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-little big bang- An FMA/ZnT Crossover

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ars Poetica, Jun 9, 2012.

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  1. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    With eight chapters done and another in the works, I'm proud to present my brainchild. A story that is almost totally available, so far. From now on, future Updates will be done here. If all goes well, and the stupid ban on FF fails, this will find a place there as well!

    Now on with the show!

    “Mama!”

    “Oh! Selim… dear, what’s the matter?” – her voice was concerned with genuine emotion found solely in a parent. Grumman watched with a calculating eye past his glasses. The boy (homunculus, he reminded himself) held an injured bird in his hands. It would not live.

    “The birdie is hurt… help him…!” Selim begged with tears running down his face.

    “Oh no, we’d better see about bandaging him up.”

    Grumman knew that today would be the day that Selim would learn about death. The bird’s wing was not merely broken. It was bleeding as though struck by a predator, but not all the way through. It was a blow to kill, but it would not be a quick death.

    “Will he get better? Will the birdie get better?”

    “He’ll be fine. Just be patient.”

    …how cruel. Grumman’s outward appearance did not change. He continued to observe. White lies as told by a parent were perhaps the darkest thing he had ever seen. If a father said something, it could only be rebuked by the mother… The mother was the most influential thing for a child.

    “…He’s a good boy.” Grumman finally said. There was no silence except the one he cast around himself and the mother and her child. To break his own silence did not lift the weight from his shoulders as much as he’d hoped it would.

    “Yes…” Mrs. Bradley replied (she decided to keep the last name as something of a memento, Grumman never voiced whether he understood or not – he accepted it as truth). “They all opposed me when I said I wanted to raise him, but I haven’t had any problems at all.”

    Grumman’s seat went back and he stood, “We’ll have to keep an eye on him a while longer.” Selim looked up in confusion but paid it no mind when the bird let out a pathetic chirp. It was a good sign, Grumman thought. If the bird could chirp, perhaps it could breathe… “If there are any changes, you know the consequences. Don’t you?”

    “I won’t let that happen.” She replied, “Don’t worry.”

    Her conviction was so great, Grumman had to believe her. Selim continued to watch him with the eyes of a child – ahuman child.

    Selim waved goodbye to Grumman, a common visitor since the time after the final battle against Father. All Grumman’s thoughts stopped, however, at the utterance of a simple word. Truly, the mother was the most important thing for a child… but to every son, there should be a –

    “Bye-bye… Dada…”

    The shattered silence in his mind mended itself… a shame it couldn’t stay in his head.

    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 1: Tumble
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    “Where… am I?” he asked aloud. He stood and assessed his situation, brushing his pants and jacket off with a few careful gestures. His brow furrowed, “Better question: Who are these people?”

    A girl with pink hair was shouting at a balding man. There were children everywhere, mostly teenagers around the same age as him. He sighed and avoided the temptation to fidget.

    “Hey?” he asked aloud, “Hello?”

    Nobody answered. He listened closer… and then he swore. They were speaking a different language. ‘Aerugoan? It sounds about right… but the pronunciations are off and there are several words I don’t recognize. The accents, too…’ he looked around, ‘But… if I’m in Aerugo, then how did I get here?

    There was a castle. It looked pretty old. He didn’t recognize the architecture. Damn it. He looked to the sky. ‘…It’s noon. Maybe a little earlier… but last I remember it was nighttime. So there was a time zone change?’ he scoffed, ‘No. The only way that a time zone change could be this drastic was if I were on the other side… of… the… planet…’ his brain stopped working. ‘Just where am I?
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    Professor Colbert was decently sure on what he could expect from Louise. Common occurrence was a failed spell signified by a mighty explosion. No more and no less. The sole difference this time would be that, on the very likely chance that Louise failed, she would be expelled. It would be impossible to continue the curriculum without a Familiar. More than that, it would prove that she had zero talent in magic.

    However, he was a teacher. He couldn’t fail a student like that. No. He had to encourage her to try her hardest. It was sad and cruel, but it was an absolute necessity. And yet, after the first explosion which yielded naught but air… he saw the tears in her eyes.

    “Miss Valliere, don’t give up yet! I’ll allow you another chance!” There was the briefest elation in her expression before she covered it with arrogant haughtiness, however poorly. It was neither to his surprise nor to the surprise of the many students who observed Louise’s second summon attempt that it was another nasty explosion.

    He coughed after inhaling dust kicked up from the blast and was ready to announce that she had failed, albeit sadly as he never wished the failure upon Louise… and he stopped. There, standing in the middle of the blast, was a figure.

    Could it be…?

    Was it possible that Louise had succeeded? Joy of joys if she did… But she would be damned if she didn’t. The dust cleared… and Colbert became nervous.

    It was a boy. He stood in front of them wearing a pristine, white outfit. An odd hat adorned his head that matched the clothing. His hair was black and covered his forehead with bangs, though it was mostly short. At first, Colbert couldn’t see the boy’s eyes as he was looking down and all around.

    But then the boy’s gaze passed over him. It was not a gaze of wonder or whimsical merriment or even of teenage angst, but the gaze of a man – a man who had seen enough to harden him to at least a few of the world’s sadder truths. Dark purple eyes, almost black, screamed an emotion he did not wish to discern.

    They were like the eyes he’d seen in the mirror, more than once.

    “Louise summoned a commoner!” laughed someone on the crowd of students, “This just made my day!” he roared with laughter. Colbert frowned deeply at the cruel words and watched Louise toughen up and frenzy herself in rage and embarrassment.

    “P-Professor Colbert! Please! Let me try again! This… this commoner CANNOT be my Familiar! He’s just so… so…!” she was at a loss for words. He understood that.

    But he also understood never looking a gift horse in the mouth. “No, Louise, I cannot allow that.” It was a miracle she summoned anything at all, from his perspective. For her to squander that miracle was infinitely insulting. “The Springtime Familiar Summoning Ritual is sacred. It is a tradition that has lasted for thousands of years and I can’t have you break it simply because you don’t like the Familiar you summoned.” He gave her a stern look, “Complete the contract.”

    “B-But…” she stuttered in protest before hanging her head in resignation, “Fine…” she groaned. As sudden as her surrender, a new fire lit itself in her eyes and she looked up and spun to glare at her familiar, “You’d better count yourself lucky, Familiar. Most commoners would beg to be in a position like this.”

    The commoner dressed in white stood still. He watched Louise with a cautious eye.

    Colbert realized what he was doing, then. This boy Louise summoned… he was looking around, watching everyone, and preparing not for a fight towards an escape route. He was ready for hostilities. He was most certainly not ready for Louise to kiss him.

    He stumbled backwards in surprise before righting himself. The human Familiar was visibly stunned and blushed brightly. Colbert was relieved. The reaction was normal for a child his age. Thank Brimir. That, he thought, could have ended badly.

    Then the boy started shouting swears in fluent Germanian. Colbert’s eyes widened impossibly. The accent was wrong on too many levels to count and the noises of the words he did not recognize grated upon his ears but the few swears he recognized… he’d never heard of another human being with a mouth like that.

    Colbert looked towards their sole Germanian student and she too understood what the boy was saying – far better than he considering it was a perversion of her native dialect. Her face as red as her hair, Kirche barely held back a gasp as she openly gaped at the words uttered from the Familiar’s mouth.

    Louise took notice, “Zerbst? What is he saying?”

    “You, uh…” she was at a loss for words, “You would really rather not know.” Normally she would tease the Vallière for all it was worth, but she would hold off in this case. It was too obvious.

    Louise growled and snapped her wand around, “I’ll silence him, then!”

    Colbert nodded. Yes, it was probably for the best that the familiar was silenced to prevent the spread of profanities. Louise readied the spell.

    …Louise was about to cast a spell.

    Colbert sucked in a breath.

    Oh shit. Louise was about to cast a spell!

    “Wait, miss Valli-” and there was a mighty concussive explosion.
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    He was not used to high-yield explosions to the face. But then, nobody ever was. He stood after being knocked down by the blast and observed the damage done to his white suit.

    Ash and dirt marred its pristine color and he couldn’t help but frown a bit. He just had this thing cleaned. He looked at his left hand and pulled a white glove up just enough to examine the damage. There were letters, markings, carved into his flesh.

    …He was just branded like cattle. He did not appreciate. “What… the… fuck?” normally such crude language was below him. Yet he couldn’t help but channel his inner fury into a flurry of swears and curses upon the infliction of pain. The observation of it led to a confused and hushed tone of voice that was no less colorful than his previous statements. But there was a difference this time.

    “Familiar!”

    The difference being, they actually understood what he was saying.

    He turned his attention to the girl who snapped at him. She had pink hair and red eyes. She was very short… and flat. From her stance, she was insecure. He frowned, “Familiar? What is a familiar?”

    “You are my familiar, Familiar. And you best not forget it! We will be going over proper conduct in the presence of nobility as your first lesson then we will rid you of that awful tendency to swear…!”

    “I only curse when I am angry, miss.” He said to her. “And I am very angry, right now. I fell asleep somewhere very different from here and I woke up in a cloud of dust and dirt. I do not appreciate this. Moments later, I am sexually assaulted and branded. I have every right to be pissed the fuck off.”

    The balding man looked at him. “Sir… We did not mean anything hostile by our actions. I’m confident Miss Vallière did not intentionally harm you. You were simply summoned as her familiar. That is all.”

    He frowned, “I do not appreciate surprises, mister…”

    “Colbert. Professor Colbert.”

    He nodded. “A man of learning. I can respect that. Now, I do not appreciate surprises, Mister Colbert. And this was one hell of a surprise!”

    “Sir, you must understand, we meant nothing malicious by this summoning… It is normally only meant to work on animals. For a human being to be summoned is highly irregular and almost totally unheard of.”

    He frowned deeply, “That… makes more sense. Animals would mind being branded, but certainly not to the same extent as a human being.” He looked at the little girl, “And she summoned me?”

    “She did. The contract between you two confirms it.”

    “…What does this mean, exactly?”

    “You will have to sort that out with Miss Vallière.” Colbert said to him. He looked to see the rest of the students were already departing via levitation, “I have my class to run, after all.” And he departed.

    He stared at the people as they flew away, their actions totally violating natural laws before observing a tugging on his sleeve by his ‘master’ strong enough to drag him a few inches. He stopped moving entirely.

    She tripped and pitched forward but balanced herself and turned to glare at him, “What was that for?!”

    “I don’t like being dragged,” he responded, “And you were dragging me.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t have had to drag you if you’d listened to me when I called you!” she snapped at him, “You were just staring at them for the last five minutes! It’s only a basic levitation spell; we learn it in first year!”

    “…Tell me more.”

    “Hmph,” she huffed, “Who do you think you are to give orders to a noble? You will refer to me as “Master”, Familiar.”

    “But “Master” is not your name.”

    “I am Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Vallière, and you will address me as your superior!”

    “My name is Selim Bradley. And I will do no such thing.”

    Louise gave a scream of incoherent rage. Such is life.
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    An FMA crossover in which Louise summons Selim Bradley after he was raised right. End Chapter 1
     
    ijp92, Lord Sia, Widowmaker and 6 others like this.
  2. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    Alphonse Elric was an average citizen of Amestris. The color of his eyes hinted at foreign origin, but his brother was a former member of the military and he’d only ever shown that he fought for the best intentions.

    Grumman had called Alphonse, Amestris’s leading Alkahestric and Alchemic expert, to examine Selim since he first came under the guardianship of Mrs. Bradley. Bi-monthly check-ups to make sure that it was Selim they were speaking to and not Pride.

    Examinations of the mark on his forehead would be followed by a standard physical and a blood test. He mused once that it was more akin to giving a rat to a scientist and saying “Have fun”. Were Alphonse a lesser man, he’d no doubt in his mind that Selim would have disappeared long ago.

    But he and many others trusted Alphonse with their lives. He hardly knew the boy and trusted him explicitly to perform the task he’d been given. Alphonse came to him that day and informed him, “Selim certainly heals faster than a human being, but for all other intents and purposes… he is not Pride.”

    Grumman nodded, satisfied with the answer. It was as they were discussing Selim’s physical that the fireworks went off, commemorating the day a coup was felled and honoring the fallen. It was a day mourned and a night celebrated.

    People were so odd sometimes, he thought. He looked through the window. “Um, sir?” asked Alphonse, “What is it?”

    Selim was looking at the fireworks with a light in his eyes. “This is his first time experiencing fireworks.” He explained.

    “And?”

    “Is there something wrong with his hearing? He hasn’t flinched a single time.”

    “His hearing is fine, sir,” Alphonse told him, “Perhaps he’s better at tolerating the sound of it.”

    “Is there something wrong with his sight?”

    “No, sir. He has the best eyesight I have seen in another person.”

    Grumman frowned for he knew the truth of things. Selim was not tolerating the sound of the explosions for the sake of the lightshow. Selim’s eyes were closed.

    “Hm,” Grumman looked closely at Selim and mused, “An interesting thing, isn’t it?”

    “What, sir?”

    “The sound of an explosion.”
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    Chapter 2: Nonsensical
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    “So…” Selim trailed as he looked around the room, “This is where you live?”

    Her quarters were 19.5 square meters in area. There was a bed and a desk. Books were lying about here and there. It was of little interest to him, however. Yet still he picked up a book and flipped through it. She swatted his hand and grabbed the book before putting it away in its proper place.

    He rubbed his hand, “No need for such physical violence, Louise.”

    She swatted him again. “As your master, I am inclined to do whatsoever I wish with you! Now be silent or I will get the whip!”

    “…I think you’re taking the Master-Servant thing a little too far, Louise.”

    “What?”

    “I mean, I understand that people enjoy that sort of thing. However, even I recognize it blasphemy to do something like that and claiming it’s a sacred ritual.”

    “What?!”

    “And I don’t even believe in God, much less worry about that sort of stuff. Honestly, how perverse and despicable can you beco-” and she punched him in the face.

    “P-Perverse?” she asked him, “D-D-Despicable…?! You…!” she raised her want, “Fireball!” There was an explosion.

    It wasn’t until ten minutes passed that Selim was able to form coherent thought again. The first thought was along the lines of ‘ouch’ with the thought following it being much the same. He looked at her as she huffed and puffed.

    “Okay… first rule: No more blowing me up. I was teasing you, Louise. That isn’t just cause for attempted murder.”

    She scowled at him, “Rules?” she asked, “You do not set the terms here, Familiar. Know your place!”

    “I know my place plenty well enough to realize that you are abusing your place.” He said to her, “You summoned a sentient creature, Louise. It isn’t going to be as easy as “Here is my contract, so you belong to me”. Not even close.” He looked out the window. He didn’t recognize the constellations and- “Louise,” he dared ask, “How many moons are in the sky?”

    “Two. Why do you ask?”

    “…No reason at all.”

    “And stop calling me “Louise”! I’m your Master! Call me “Master”!”

    Selim sighed deeply, “Under what pretense are you my master? You summoned me to be your familiar. My understanding is that I’ve been summoned as an animal companion; at least… that’s how the fairy tales work. But even I have never heard of a human familiar. The closest equivalent our people have to what you want is a slave and Amestris hasn’t dealt in slavery for hundreds of years.” He looked closely at her, “If I’m to do this, I want to set the conditions. No exceptions or I walk. Are we clear?”

    “Walk where, Familiar?” Louise asked him, “You’re a foreigner in a foreign land. You have no allies and you are a commoner. You would never find the connections necessary to leave Tristain, let alone Halkeginia.”

    “…Commoner?”

    “You really are clueless, aren’t you?”

    “Let’s suppose I know nothing of magic for a second. Before we even get into that, what is a Familiar?”

    “You answered your own question. A Familiar is an animal companion, a guide, who assists its summoner in the collection of reagents such as sulfur or moss. That Familiar’s eyes and ears are those of the Master’s, in a proper relationship the Master would be able to hear and see what the Familiar hears and sees. The Familiar determines which type of magic a person will use. Those elements are Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and the lost element of Void.”

    Selim blinked. “Oh, that’s… that’s actually very odd. Xerxes had a similar mythological element system, but they used “Sky” instead of “Void”.”

    “What kind of element is “Sky”, anyway?” she asked. Then she scoffed, “It doesn’t matter. As all magic is inherently connected to life and makes its user that much more powerful, naturally, the mage is a Noble.”

    Selim Bradley was an intelligent person, or so he sometimes thought. With what information he’d acquired so far, “So, “Commoners” are people who cannot use “magic”. The Nobility, the ruling class, uses magic to keep a leash on what I can assume to be a vastly larger number of people. By how much do the Commoners outnumber the Nobles, Louise?”

    “Around ten to one,” she said.

    He gave a low whistle. “That’s… That’s impressive.” Not even the alchemists of Amestris had that ratio. The people who came closest were Xing, and they hardly had a system like this in place. “Have there been any revolts? Uprisings? Rebellions?”

    “W-W-W-What?!” she sputtered, “NO! Of course not! That’s… The idea of it… It’s utterly ridiculous!”

    Selim said nothing for a few moments before nodding, “Okay. I think I understand the general political layout. Your country is ruled by a… King?”

    “A queen.” She answered before flinching, “Well… actually… she’s been indisposed for a while and deemed unfit to rule. Currently, we’re being led by Princess Henrietta in all but some official documentation.”

    “I see. That’s a common situation in dying regimes.” He licked his lips as though they were dry, “Does your country of… what was it again?”

    “Tristain.”

    “Does Tristain have any enemies?”

    “…We border Germania, Gallia, and Romalia. Albion is located off our shores.”

    “I’m not asking for neighbors, I’m asking for nemeses.”

    “In that case, we’ve been to war with Germania frequently. But we currently have a truce.”

    He chuckled, “Like those hold up forever.” He took off his hat and undid his jacket, sitting down at a small chair. “A sad fact of life is that, thanks to politics, treaties tend to fail more frequently than succeed. One side always wants a little more, one side feels they don’t have enough, one side feels the other has too much… or, maybe, they’re just not the nicest lot of the bunch and decide to launch an attack for the hell of it.”

    “You have such a bleak worldview, Familiar. How do you live with it?”

    “Practice,” he replied, “So, may I assume that the magic used to summon me is one-way?”

    “It is. There is no way back to wherever you came from using magic.”

    “…I’m willing to believe that there isn’t a known way back home, but I’m not about to believe that there is no way back home.” He looked at the two moons again with something akin to concern, “Though, my belief of the latter is certainly tested with every passing second I stand here. Louise… may I take a walk to clear my head? Being summoned has left me confused and I’d like a moment to sort things out.”

    She regarded him for a moment, “It is… a reasonable request. And it has been a stressful day for all of us.” He decided not to mention that it was just the two of them. “You may go. But come back by morning to awaken me, I do not wish to be late for class. If you come back soon enough, there is a bed waiting for you.”

    “A bed?” he asked. Perhaps this temporary stay would be so bad!

    She gestured towards a stack of hay in the corner under a window, “Yes. Your bed. The bed of a Familiar.”

    He noticed that he was smiling slightly. He felt an eye twitch but otherwise did nothing else. In the swiftest motions possible he put on his jacket and hat again and walked out of her room. The door shut behind him with the sound of wood and iron echoing through the halls.

    He growled and kicked a stray pot. ‘Stupid Louise! Stupid portal! Stupid magic! It’s insane! Asinine! All of it!’ he took a deep breath. ‘Calm down, Selim… Just calm the fuck down. You can’t lose your cool. Not now. Not because of some immature brat and not because of a little bad luck with space and time. You’re better than that.

    It was as he turned a corner that he noticed a boy and a girl speaking romantically with each other. Selim did not care about this and made to go past them as silently as possible. “You there, commoner!” called the blond one. Selim swore.

    When he looked to see who it was that had addressed him with what may have been intended as an intimidating voice, he saw instead a fop having a painfully obvious and cliché date at night with a brunette. “I’ve had a bad day.” He told the boy.

    “A bad day?” asked the fop. Selim hated him already. “That happens to everyone. Why are you here, at night?”

    “Strolling,” Selim said to him. He looked at the brunette, “Is she a good kisser?” he asked him.

    Guiche sputtered, “W-W-What?!” he pointed at Selim, “How dare you!”

    “I’m asking an honest question. What, is dating between years forbidden? Is that why you’re so hesitant to admit you are courting her?” Selim asked. He waved his hands dramatically. Guiche recognized it for what it was. Selim saw him as a man who liked to make a show of everything, so Selim would turn the world into a stage, “If not, then… is the other one not kissing you well enough?”

    “Other one?” the girl asked, “Guiche… what is he talking about?”

    “Nothing at all, Katie. I cannot tell lies to your eyes. The man is telling filthy untruths! I would never betray you!” he spun to regard Selim, “And you, who would… Wait… Where did he go?!”

    For Selim had only backed back around the corner he came from and hit in the shadow. Even in a white suit at night, he was a challenge to see. Guiche ran the only other direction the hall went to catch him. “G-Guiche! Guiche!” Katie called, “What about my soufflé?!” and she ran after him.

    Selim waited for a minute before guffawing and falling to his knees in the throws of uproarious laughter. He stood on trembling feet, chuckling all the while, and shook his head. He continued through the halls.

    Left… right… right… left…

    “It’s easy to get lost;” he said aloud, “Every hall looks the same at night.” He came to a window and stopped there. “Two moons in the sky… and all the stars have moved around. No doubt about it. I’m not in Amestris, anymore.” He clasped his hand and tilted his head forward, “…this is bad. I don’t know anything about where I am, the technological levels are less than those of Xerxes… no running water, no electricity. They’re probably still on a gold standard and I know only of neighboring countries and a possible enemy.”

    A deep frown carved itself on his boyish face. “The layout of this school is about as expected. It was probably a castle or fortress at one point or another, built to hold off bandits and highwaymen. There are five towers, leaving the academy in the shape of a pentagon. I’d assume each tower represents one of those elements Louise was telling me about…” he blinked, “And why am I talking to myself?”

    “Strange.”

    “Yes, yes it is.” A pause, “Why, hello, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Selim greeted the girl with blue hair who appeared out of nowhere. Oh, wait, there was a dragon. That made sense. “I seem to be on the verge of a psychotic break from all the supernatural happenings over the course of the last day and a half, so I’ll skip all the ranting and go on to the greetings. My name’s Selim Bradley. What’s yours?”

    “Tabitha.”

    “…Just ‘Tabitha’? It isn’t ridiculously long and hard to memorize. It’s… Tabitha. Tabitha, right?”

    “Yes.”

    “Oh. That’s good. It makes life a little simpler, you see.” She said nothing, instead turning a page in her book. “Um, what are you reading?”

    She flipped a page, “Fiction.”

    “…Oh. Is it any good?”

    Flip a page, “…Yes.”

    “…Can I take a look?”

    “No.” she shut her book and hopped on her dragon’s back.

    “Not very sociable, are you?”

    “No.” and they flew away.

    He stood there for a moment, “Well,” he mused, “That was a completely inane and useless conversation.” There were crickets chirping. “And I’m still talking to myself!”
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    End Chapter 2
     
  3. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    Progress, Grumman mused some two years after the defeat of Father, was an interesting thing. He wondered briefly how long it would take a world without alchemy to reach their level of lifestyle. With alchemy, they had successfully discovered the correct alloys and minerals and metals to allow better living. There hadn’t been a plague in Amestris for two hundred years due to the advances of medical alchemy.

    Since the introduction of Alkahestry into their system of learning, sickness had rapidly fallen. But how long would it take others to reach such a point? Lands far away that heard nothing of Alchemy… how far along were they? Did they discover the proper utilization of inoculation? Did they construct higher and higher buildings? Did they fight against the mightiest demons in existence to preserve themselves? Had they been tested by God, yet?

    Or, perhaps, were they simply living humble lives? Were they ignorant of the evils of the world? Did they know nothing of plagues? Did they accept the treatable as untreatable and left it as that?

    Two centuries ago, leprosy would have been invitation to be sent out of the country to die quietly somewhere. When it was discovered that it and many other diseases could be cured, the man was hailed a medical saint for his actions.

    Did they have an equivalent?

    “Papa!” came a call from a room, “You’re going to miss it!”

    “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he said cheerfully. He walked slowly into the living room and sat down next to Mrs. Bradley and Selim. The three sat on a couch on one side of the room. He said aloud, “You know, I was wondering. What would the world be like without Alchemy?”

    “Papa?” Selim asked.

    “What I mean to say is: How would things be different?”

    Mrs. Bradley pondered this, “Well, we wouldn’t have automail, I suppose. Alchemy gave us the alloys for that. And since it’s a branch of chemistry, it opened the doors to medicine.”

    He beamed, “That is precisely along the lines that I was thinking-”

    “Pictures.” Selim said.

    They both looked at him. “Selim,” Grumman said to him, “Could you say more?”

    “Well… about eighty years ago, somebody figured out how to take pictures, right?”

    “That’s right. You’re thinking of William Heinrich Florence.”

    “Yeah! He was an alchemist who worked with silver a lot and figured out that it darkened with chalk when exposed to light! He used sodium thiosulphate as a solvent of silver halides and fixed pictures that were made. He later discovered the spectrum of light filtered through glass photos and made a red-green-blue filter. Without alchemy… that kind of process could have taken way longer! He did it in ten years!”

    “That’s… That’s very interesting how you know all of that, Selim. Did you read it somewhere?”

    “Uh… Yeah! I read it in a book about photos! Because the earliest designs needed a dust compound to explode to work! And I wanted to…” he paused, “I… I don’t remember what I wanted to do.”

    “When was this?”

    “I don’t know.”

    Mrs. Bradley coughed, “Mr. Grumman, he’s an intelligent boy.” She gave him a look, “Let’s just leave it at that.”

    He should have said something. He should have reported this. He should have given the order. Grumman should have done many things. But he didn’t. The knowledge was not harmful. The knowledge did not come from Pride, the homunculus.

    Even with this sudden burst of intellect, he was confident in Mrs. Bradley to know when Selim wasn’t… Selim anymore… She was shown the pictures. She knew first hand what he could do.

    He was not worried.

    “Hey! It’s starting!” Selim announced in a happy tone.

    A black window in a box of wood and metal alloys let loose a bright flicker of a single star exploding in the center. It divided the blackness with a white line that expanded out. White faded for strips of every color and there was a monotone siren. It cut away.

    The Amestrian flag stood proudly in the center of an otherwise white plane. A voice, one that was heard reporting the events that took place during the coup under Mustang’s orders, spoke to millions once more.

    “Hello, Amestris. And welcome to Television.”

    June 12th, 1917.
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 3: Break
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    Louise still slept peacefully. Selim could hear her snoring gently. From his perspective, she couldn’t be much more childish if she tried. True, normally she was loud… and very annoying… but, while she slept, he had to admit there was a pleasant quality about her.

    He nudged her. She gave a cute yawn and tucked herself further into her covers. Selim frowned. He was not necessarily a person who awoke others, it being a novel experience considering he’d been living alone for four years now. But he understood the concept of it well enough.

    He was asked to wake Louise, but he couldn’t wake anybody else. Gentle nudging wasn’t doing it, so could he perhaps set the bed on fire?

    …No. That was psychotic and tended to be frowned upon. He didn’t want to douse her with water…

    He grabbed the blankets that she had tucked herself into so tightly and pulled. She came tumbling out of the bed and gave a shout that was somewhere between an indignant cry and a squawk. He couldn’t help but chuckle a bit, “Well,” he said to her as she gathered her bearings, “You did tell me to wake you up.”

    “W-What is this?!” she shouted, “Huh? O-Oh! Wait… And you! Who are you?!” her voice was slurred. Her expression was horribly vacant and she eventually found coherent speech reduced to a pitiful mumble.

    “…I’m the person you summoned, yesterday.” He said to her. She blinked. “On another note,” he continued, “Do your people have coffee? Because, if you’re going to be like this every morning, I think you need something to jumpstart you.”

    “Oh, the familiar… that’s right! I summoned you yesterday, didn’t I?”

    Selim felt an eye twitch, “That’s… That’s what I said.”

    She got up and yawned. Then she ordered Selim: “Clothes.” He shrugged and tossed her the uniform that had been draped over a chair. He turned and left the room before she started dressing. It was the polite thing to do.

    “H-Hey! Wait! Where are you going?!”

    “I’ll be waiting out here until you’re finished, Louise.” He said to her, “It wouldn’t be right for a man to watch a lady undress herself like this.”

    “What?! You must not know because you’re a commoner, but as a servant, you are supposed to dress me! Nobles will not dress themselves if a servant is available! That is what a servant does!”

    “…You summoned me to be a familiar. Last night, I think I already established that things like this were beneath me. Those conditions… remember them?” he asked, “Here’s the first condition. Anything one man can do another can too. If I can dress myself, then you can dress yourself.”

    “Such insolence! As punishment for being a disrespectful familiar: No breakfast,” Louise declared. Selim gave a happy smile.

    “You have no way of enforcing that rule, and we both know it. Condition number two, if it would directly harm me to follow an order given by you I have permission to refuse.”

    “How is going without breakfast harmful?!”

    “It’s the most important meal of the day, that’s how! Now, you’d better get dressed if you want to stop me from eating. Ta-ta!”

    “F-Familiar…! Familiar!”
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    She was, he saw, in every way Louise’s opposite. Where Louise was short, she was tall. Where Louise had a pale shade of pink hair, hers was a vibrant red. Her skin was dark while Louise’s was pale. Her personality was even the opposite of Louise’s… not to mention her breasts.

    Those… have to be one of the biggest pairs… I have ever seen. Ever. Of all time.’ He thought to himself as Louise and this girl shared greetings. Louise’s held bitterness, “Good morning… Kirche.”

    “Good morning, Louise.” Kirche’s held pleasantness and was jovial in its nature. “That… is your familiar?” Kirche asked. She was mocking her, he realized as she pointed at him.

    “That’s right.”

    “Ahaha! So it really is a human! That’s amazing!”

    “…I’m not an it.” He said, “I am a male, human being. My name is Selim Bradley. And-”

    “It’s just like you to summon a commoner with ‘Summon Servant’. What else to expect from Louise the Zero?”

    “…Why am I always interrupted?” Selim mumbled to himself. Louise’s white cheeks were red with embarrassment from Kirche’s remarks.

    “Shut up,” she said to Kirche.

    She didn’t stop, “I summoned a familiar yesterday, too. Unlike a certain somebody, I was successful on my first try.”

    “Really.”

    “And, if you’re going to have a familiar, it should be a good one, like this. Flame!” Kirche called for her familiar triumphantly. Even as the heat hit Selim’s face from the dark-red lizard that slithered out from behind a corner, a deep part of him marveled at the sight of the thing.

    “A salamander, right?” he asked before Kirche could complain, “Not one of the small, amphibious kinds, either. But of the mythological fire-based kind, right?” of course he recognized the beast. He had seen Lieutenant General Mustang’s Transmutation circle only a few times. It was more than enough for him.

    “Your familiar has a good eye, Louise. Yes,” she said, “That is absolutely correct. A salamander from the Fire Dragon Mountains! It’s like a brand! Collectors can’t even put a price on these!”

    “That’s nice,” Louise said, her voice was bitter and chilly.

    “Isn’t it? It matches my affinity perfectly!”

    “Your affinity is Fire, isn’t it?”

    “Of course! After all, I’m Kirche the Ardent. The ardent of gently smoldering passion. Everywhere I go, I have boys falling for me.”

    “Oh,” Selim said aloud, “So… you’re a flirt?”

    “…Come again?”

    “Well, I mean, you string boys along as far as they’ll go and then, if they’re lucky, you’ll have sex with them. Are you paid or do you do it for pleasure?”

    “…What.”

    “No, really. A body like that, I can’t imagine what a noble would pay to do with it for a night. I always say business before pleasure, but if they’re one in the same… well, that’s even better. I didn’t think I’d see someone take it to a literal sense, though.”

    “…Are you calling me a concubine?” she asked with her mouth slightly agape. “That’s…”

    “Factual? True? Honest of me? Why, thank you so very much. On another note, Louise, I think we’ve wasted enough time with this, uh, person. Let’s go.” And he started walking away with her. Kirche only looked at him leave, but said nothing else.

    Louise looked at him as they walked to her class, “Familiar… that… was… amazing.”

    He looked at her in confusion, “Um, thanks? I’m not very good at outright lying to people. It goes against my principles. But when I see people who would sell their bodies like that-” Louise guffawed and started laughing. “What?”

    “You idiot familiar, she doesn’t sell her body at all! She flirts with it to get what she wants-”

    “And she sleeps around so much that the smell of sex permeates all of her clothes to an extent that makes my eyes water. If she isn’t getting paid to have sex, she’s just being a slut.”

    She looked at him, “Oh… Oh, my… That’s…”

    “That’s what?”

    “…I don’t think it would be a good idea to spread that around.”

    “Hmm?”

    “What I mean to say is… Familiar, I am all for exchanging banter and insults, but that kind of comment can easily ruin a reputation. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

    “Anyone, you say? There’s nobody whose reputation would not gladly ruin? There’s nobody you wouldn’t destroy with words alone?”

    “Not Kirche. That’s just… That’s wrong, Familiar.”

    “So you say.” Selim stated with a shrug.
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    Selim found the Alviss Dining Hall garish, outdated, and too grand for his tastes. At least they had food. His eyes widened at the sight of the pigs and chickens and turkeys and beef. The fruits and the vegetables. The spices alone were causing his superhuman sense of smell to go berserk. It bordered on sensory overload.

    He did not listen to Louise’s description of the hall, focusing instead on the many meals and foods upon platters being served. And, briefly, he wondered what he would be allowed to-

    “What is this?” he asked while pointing at perhaps the stalest piece of bread he’d ever laid eyes on soaking in soup better suited to being dishwater.

    “That is your food for the day.” He looked at her, “What? You know, familiars are supposed to stay outside. You’re only in here because I specially requested it.”

    “…The bowl is on the floor.”

    “You wish to sit with nobility?”

    Selim took a deep breath, “I’m going outside.”

    “To do what?”

    “Stroll!” he snapped back.
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    Selim Bradley was not a person who was used to being laughed at. Moreover, he was not a person who enjoyed being laughed at. His patience had been tested thoroughly on multiple levels for far too long to deal with a bunch of brats who wouldn’t shut up. To make matters worse, he was hungry.

    He decided to keep himself occupied by doing something else: Marveling at the many magical creatures in the room. Some, he knew. Others, he’d never seen before. And others still were mundane creatures such as birds and cats. ‘Teacher loves cats, he’d enjoy it here.

    She sat down. He sat next to her… and she glared, “Oh, what now?” he asked in exasperation.

    “That’s a mage’s seat. Familiars aren’t permitted to use it.”

    “…Yeah, no.” he sat down anyway. She glanced at him, but didn’t say anything this time. The door opened and the teacher entered. She was a middle-aged woman dressed in a voluminous purple robe and wearing a hat. She had a plump, round face with a friendly expression on it. The woman gazed around the classroom and spoke with a satisfied smile.

    “Well, everyone, it seems that the Springtime Familiar Summoning was a great success. I, Chevreuse, always enjoy seeing the new familiars that are summoned each spring. My, my… You’ve summoned quite a peculiar familiar, Miss Vallière.” Louise cast her eyes downward as Chevreuse made her remark. It was innocent enough, but the classroom was quick to laugh.

    “Louise the Zero! Don’t go around grabbing random commoners off the street just because you can’t summon anything!”

    Louise’s long pink hair billowed as she stood up. She raised her voice in anger, “No! I did everything properly! He was all that appeared!”

    “Don’t lie! I bet you couldn’t even cast ‘Summon Servant’ properly, right?” the other students chuckled.

    “Mrs. Chevreuse! I’ve been insulted! Malicorne the ‘Common Cold’ just mocked me!” Louise banged her fist against the tabletop in protest.

    “Common cold? I’m Malicorne the Windward! I haven’t caught any cold!”

    “Well, your hoarse voice sounds exactly like you’ve caught one!”

    The boy called Malicorne stood up and glared at Louise. Chevreuse pointed at them with the wand in her hand. The two suddenly jerked about like puppets on a string and rigidly sat back down. Selim frowned. Was that… some form of Alkahestry?

    “Miss Vallière, Mister Malicorne. Please stop this unnecessary argument.” Louise looked visibly dejected. All the vivacity that she’d shown earlier seemed to have totally vanished. “Calling friends ‘Zero’ or ‘Common Cold’ is not acceptable. Do you understand?”

    “Ah, but Mrs. Chevreuse, I’m called that as a joke. For Louise, it’s the truth!” Malicorne laughed out. A few giggles broke out.

    Chevreuse looked around the classroom with a severe expression. She pointed her wand again, and, as if from nowhere, the mouths of the students who’d giggled were suddenly filled with lumps of clay. At the same time, Selim felt like he just had an aneurism.

    “…what.” He muttered breathlessly, “…Louise,” he began slowly, “Did she just transmute air molecules into a series of solid compounds to reconstruct the natural state of a type of clay normally found in riverbeds inside of multiple targets of varying sizes and shapes without causing lasting damage from a remote distance and limited visibility with a stick?”

    “Familiar, stop talking.” She whispered to him.

    “My Runic name is ‘Red Clay’. Chevreuse the Red Clay. This year-”

    Selim raised his hand, “Mrs. Chevreuse, where did that clay come from?”

    She paused at the interruption, “You are… Miss Vallière’s familiar, a foreigner. I can forgive the interruption considering you may not know of the culture here-”

    “Mrs. Chevreuse.” He interrupted again, “Where did that clay come from?”

    Louise looked at him, “Familiar, be silent!”

    He continued as if he never heard her. “Let’s ignore the impossibility of actually getting the clay in specific targets for a moment and wonder where it came from because, as far as I know, air cannot be transmuted into solid compounds like that! It doesn’t just violate the Law of Shared Properties; it turns it over a table and screws it up the ass!

    “Familiar… You’re scaring me.”

    Mrs. Chevreuse. I’ll ask again. Where did that clay come from?

    She looked befuddled and unsure before answering, “Well, I construct it with willpower.”

    “Willpower.” Selim repeated in a flat tone.

    “Of course! It’s the energy source for magic!”

    There was a dead silence in the room. The only sound made was the ever increasing hyperventilation of Selim Bradley as every single scientific theory he’d grown up with and learned were each systematically destroyed. It was as though somebody had shot his pet dog in front of him… then tap danced on it.

    He took a deep breath to calm himself. It worked so many other times, so why not now? It didn’t work. “No.” he suddenly said in a calm, too calm – dangerous calm, voice. Louise only heard this tone of voice once. It happened when she was very young. A new servant, young and stupid, became drunk and urinated all over her mother’s favorite dress before passing out. She remembered the tone of her mother’s voice when she suggested the family go out to observe the countryside. It took her only an hour to catch up with them. The servant’s body was never found.

    “Familiar…” she trailed, “Are you alright?”

    He took another breath and smiled at her. “Louise, what made you think something was wrong?” There it was. That feeling again… It was the feeling that something irrevocably bad was going to happen. He slowly turned his gaze to Mrs. Chevreuse. “Please,” he said to her, “Continue the lesson. You have grasped my attention.”

    Louise took a moment to look around the classroom as the lesson continued. Never in her entire life had it been so quiet around her. Mrs. Chevreuse demonstrated the conversion of a stone pebble into brass… and she heard a snap as Selim’s fingers dug deeply into the desk. “Gold can only be made by a square-class mage.” another snap.

    She gulped, “Oh, uh, Miss Vallière, would you like to give it a try?”

    Louise began walking down. She said nothing. “Hey, Louise…?” Kirche trailed, “You don’t have to force yourself, y’know?”

    “I don’t care… I’m doing this!” she said back. And besides… anything would be better than sitting next to her familiar as he was right now. She took a look back. It was as though some kind of black miasma of death swirled around him, eclipsing his features and making his white outfit too white to be real and OhGodWhere’sHisFace – Not looking at him. Absolutely not looking at him…!

    “H-Hey, wait a sec!” Kirche stood up, “Mrs. Chevreuse, please reconsider. This is dangerous!”

    “Dangerous?” she asked, “I don’t see how. It’s just a simple transmutation.”

    -CRACK!-

    Selim slowly lifted his hands from the destroyed part of the desk, settling them into a steeple position with his elbows upon the table holding them up… They covered his nose and everything of his face below it. He glared at nothing with eyes that seemed to glow in the shadows cast by his hat. White orbs of death that waited for something to happen that would displease him.

    Every student began to edge away for more than a few reasons.

    Louise took a breath and did her best to ignore him. Her want began to shine at the end. She chanted her magical words… and swung her wand down as the executioner’s axe. There was a snap and crackle of lightning and then there was an explosion.

    Louise and Chevreuse caught the blast full-on and were thrown against the blackboard. People began to scream as frightened familiars added to the chaos. Kirche’s salamander awoke from its sleep and stood up on its hind legs, breathing a jet of flame. A manticore burst into flight and smashed through a window to escape. Through the hole, a giant snake that had been watching slithered in and swallowed somebody’s raven.

    Kirche stood up and pointed a finger at Louise as though to say something when a new noise broke the classroom’s pandemonium.

    Selim stood up from behind the destroyed desk and clapped his hands, “Wonderful,” he said, “Beautiful, extraordinary… the sound of an explosion is, to me, an amazing thing.” He smiled, “I needed that. Miss Vallière,” he looked at her, “You… have talent!”

    “Her familiar’s insane!”

    “My Lucky got eaten by a snake! Lucky!”

    “Vallière! Save us the grief and quit, already!”

    Yet even as Mrs. Chevreuse lay on the floor, occasionally twitching… even as the jeers of her classmates returned in full force, stronger than ever… even as she stood slowly on shaky legs, her torn blouse revealing her shoulder and her panties seen beneath her ripped skirt… Louise gave a slight smile at the compliments of her painfully honest familiar.

    “Louise the Zero! Your failures are anything but!”

    “Your success rate is always ZERO!”

    And at the same time, Selim finally knew why she was called ‘the Zero’.
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    End Chapter 3
     
  4. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    “The who?”

    “The Black Hand.” Mustang informed Grumman one evening, “They’re a terrorist organization that found roots in Aerugo about ten years ago. They’re best known for sneaking over groups of Ishvalan rebels and going directly against their government. Bradley never did anything about them, however.”

    “And now?”

    “They have bases all throughout Creta and are acting as a government sponsored special operations group that has directly attacked six dozen locations in the West Area. They launched a failed assassination attempt on a Lieutenant Colonel and a Brigadier General in West City. They tried again a week later and succeeded, killing nine civilians in the process. They are a growing threat.”

    “Do they have any demands?”

    “Only that Amestris return the lands that it took from them.”

    “Nonsense! I want to end the fighting, but West Area has been a part of Amestris for too long for such a demand to be met by petty terrorist attacks! What are they thinking?”

    “Sir… if I may?”

    “Go on.”

    “I think this isn’t about the land. It’s about political weakness. The official story of Bradley’s death became a tragedy for our country and cut down morale on multiple fronts. Creta has to have found out by now and has been spurned forward. The death of the leader of a country in a failed political coup speaks of national weakness. They think that this is the best opportunity they’ll have to attack and are using it to the best of their ability. If we don’t act, this could become a severe threat for us.”

    “We can’t announce them as terrorists. That would construct a panic. And yet the war with Creta has spilled so far into our country…” his ponderings were interrupted.

    “Papa?”

    And Grumman turned to see a young Selim Bradley standing there. “Selim, how long were you standing there?” his voice was cheerful, belying the darkness of the situation to the best of his ability.

    “What’s a terrorist?”

    And he was very silent. “Brigadier General, leave me for now. I must attend to something.” Mustang saluted him and said no more before leaving. Grumman looked at Selim after the door closed, “Let’s get you to bed.”

    “But, papa… what’s a terrorist?”

    “Well… a terrorist is a bad person, Selim. Sometimes they can be good people with the best intentions, but go about it the wrong way. Other times they’re mean and rotten to the core.”

    “Which kind of terrorists are these ones?”

    “…I’m starting to think they’re the latter. It’s a shame, too. Politics actually slow down my ability to do anything, due process and all that. I could just run them down, but that would be bad, too.”

    “Politics don’t sound too hard.”

    How amusing. “Oh? And how is that, Selim?”

    “Politics are like a fairy tale, right?”

    “Could you tell me how?”

    “Well, there’re knights and dragons and royalty and the peasants. The knights are all the good people who want to do the good things but have to follow all the rules. The dragons are always the monsters in the stories; they are the ones who do the bad things and break the rules. The royalty is supposed to lead but can’t do anything… and the peasants are the people who are supposed to be led, but are often hurt the most in the end.”

    “That’s actually… not too far from the truth. So, who are the terrorists in this case, Selim?”

    “That’s easy! The peasants!”
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 4: Boom
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    For a while, Selim just sat on the other side of the table with a wide and happy expression on his face. Louise had only seen small smiles, smirks, and frowns from him. To see him this elated was both pleasant and disturbing.

    He took a sip of tea, “Miss Vallière, your explosions are magnificent.” He said simply, “They are crude, but straight to the point. Moreover, the process behind them is capable of apparently causing virtually anything to explode with minimal effort. I’d like to thank you.” He took another sip, “That was the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in the past two weeks. And, for me, that is a long time to go without entertainment of a sort.”

    She frowned. She was no longer sure of her familiar’s sincerity. Louise asked him, “What’s so great about an explosion? It means I failed to cast the spell!”

    He chocked on his tea. “F-Failure? Has this society ingrained the mightiest force in existence as a failure in your eyes?”

    “Mightiest force?”

    “An explosion can devastate mountains, rupture oceans, snuff and start fires, and totally remove all the air in a given area to suffocate others with ease. An explosion can be as silent as a gentle breeze or as devastating as a thunderstorm. But the mere sound is enough to trip the enemy and fell them to their knees in fear of what you may hold. An explosion is a beautiful thing! For you to even consider otherwise is… No! I cannot allow it!”

    “What are you on about now, familiar?”

    “Until you see your explosions for the successes they are, I will feel miserable at the waste of potential. Starting tomorrow, we’re working on accuracy. Then, we’re going to go for multiple targets. Then, we’re going to work on moving targets. And, finally, we’re going to-”

    “Your cake, sir.” A young maid said to Selim as she passed him a plate.

    “Thank you, miss…?”

    “Familiar,” Louise admonished, “She’s a servant. You do not ask the names of servants, it is impolite and beneath your stature!”

    “Perhaps beneath your stature,” he said to her, “If that is at all possible, but not below mine. I’m but a lowly commoner, after all.” He regarded the maid, “Miss…?” and prodded again.

    “Siesta. Siesta of Tarbes.”

    “No family name?” he shrugged, “That makes sense. Even back home when there was still nobility it was a common practice for the common folk to take the names of the towns they grew up in. Well, miss Siesta of Tarbes, thank you for the cake.”

    She blushed. And, suddenly, a noise appeared. It almost sounded like a… ‘squee’ of joy, of some sort. It reminded him of the sounds that Mrs. Elric made when a new shipment of nuts and bolts came in on that one Saturday. For some reason, it made him nervous.

    Crimson and stuttering: Siesta of Tarbes left Selim Bradley to his cake and tea while Louise looked at him with suspicion and narrowed eyes. “Who are you, really?” she asked, “You’re polite to everyone you meet, I don’t think you’ve lied a single time, and that outfit, even foreign, looks pristine and better suited for extremely formal occasions. I can’t imagine the amount of time that went into it. You claim you aren’t a noble and have performed no magic, so far. Yet the most surprising thing when you saw magic occur was when you asked so many questions about it… I think the only person who’s done that in this academy has been Professor Colbert.”

    “So you are unsure of me? You think that there is something wrong about me?”

    “Familiar, for all intents and purposes, that aura you released today should not have come from a human being. My mother didn’t even scare me as much as you did back then. I’m not even going to ask you who you are, again. I’ll get to the point. What are you?”

    Selim paused if only for a moment before putting his tea cup down and twirling its contents with a small spoon. As he spoke, he added a sugar cube to it. Louise frowned in mild disgust but said nothing. “Who am I? What am I? Well, I’ve already answered that, haven’t I? My name is Selim Bradley. That is who I am. What I am… I am a mobile and sentient sack of skin and bone and flesh in a white suit with manners and the ability to be polite – however occasionally spotty.” He smiled slightly, “You really shouldn’t be so suspicious. It’s unbecoming, Miss Vallière.”

    She frowned deeply. “Stop calling me that. I almost prefer you call me Louise to that.”

    “Would you prefer I call you ‘Zero’?”

    “I’d certainly prefer if you called me Master like so many other familiars do with their mages!”

    “Ah, but I am human. And I am capable of speech. But if I could speak the languages of these many creatures, there is little doubt in my mind that they do not refer to their mages as master, but partner. A familiar’s relationship with the mage is, so far as I can see, more a relationship between two organisms that benefit off of each other than a Master-Servant relationship. Why, if you summoned an animal instead of me, would this still be your approach?”

    She had the decency to blush. “I-It’s not like I planned on summoning a human!”

    “That much I gathered from the bed of hay and the poor food. But if all it took to get something edible around here was to give you a compliment, I certainly would have called you tall, tan and busty.”

    “…You jest.”

    “I do not.” He said back, “To me, food is very serious business. The quality and texture of this cake alone is borderline orgasmic and, undoubtedly, one of the best I’ve ever had! Though I may not look it, I am the type who lives to eat… not the other way around.”

    “Gluttony is a vice, familiar.”

    “So is wrath, and yet…” he looked at her with a long, thin smirk, “Well, I don’t see you changing your ways any time in the future.” He leaned back to dodge a swipe and raised a small glass of water, “Sinners, the both of us. To all of them: A toast.”

    “…You would try to have me favor the sins of man?” Louise looked at him, “Perhaps they were right. Perhaps you are insane.”

    “I’m not insane. It’s just that my general field of study tends to desensitize its members to those things you call sins. In excess, certainly they’re bad. But a little of something bad doesn’t necessarily hurt you. It’s all about finding a balance in things.”

    Louise scoffed and turned her head to the side, “Foolish! There is no such thing as a balance! You must live your life properly! A single wrong step could bring down upon you the wrath of Brimir, our lord!”

    “…You believe in God?”

    “You don’t?”

    His answer was as quick and decisive as it was flat. “No.”

    She was stunned. “You… You’re a heathen? It’s bad enough that I summoned a human, but he’s a pyromaniac… and a heathen?!”

    “Calm down. It’s not so bad.” He sipped his tea and frowned, “I added too much sugar.”

    “Calm down? Calm down! How can I be calm when you throw something like this at me?!”

    “I could try and remove the sugar… but that would draw a bit of attention… maybe I should get rid of it? Ah, but that would that be rude…! Maybe I should just drink the rest…?”

    “Are you even listening?!”

    Selim finished his tea and stood up, “I’m going to take a stroll, Miss Vallière. I’m hungry and, seeing as you will not let me get more food, I shall have to find it elsewhere.”

    “A stroll?! Again?! Familiar, we are not done with this conversation!” he was already walking away, “Familiar!”
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    It was surprisingly easy to get Louise to lose him on a campus she probably knew by heart at this point. Turning a corner, he followed his nose to the scent of the kitchen. Halfway there, he was interrupted in his wanderings by a balding man that he saw during the summoning. “Ah,” he said, “Mister Colbert?”

    “Oh! Um…” the man had obviously not been expecting the encounter and stuttered slightly to form a response.

    “Call me Selim.” He supplied.

    “Well, Selim, it’s nice seeing you again. I heard that you caused a bit of a commotion in Miss Chevreuse’s class, earlier?”

    “Well, yes. It was because of that clay-”

    “Coming out of nowhere, yes?” Colbert finished the sentence with a knowing look, “I’m right?”

    “You are.”

    “I wondered about that, too. My study on it lasted about a year and eventually I came to an answer… ah, but that isn’t important. I don’t believe I’ve apologized for my sudden departure, earlier.”

    Selim laughed it off, “No, no. It’s fine. I completely understand. A teacher’s students always take precedence. Or, at least, that’s what my teacher told me when I was young and foolish.”

    “…How young were you? You can’t be older than-”

    “Seventeen years. I was eight when the lessons began and I took to them like a sponge to water. I was tutored in standard academics for about four years before that, however.”

    “A prodigy, then?”

    “Thereabouts,” Selim shrugged, “I wasn’t able to break any age records, though. It was probably because I was so late to joining the game, so to say.”

    “Someone younger than you accomplished more?”

    “If I’m a prodigy, he’s a Master. My teacher’s brother, Edward Elric.” He stopped for a moment, “You wouldn’t know him, but he joined the military at age twelve. He beat me by a good year.”

    Colbert wasn’t smiling anymore. “Your military allows you to join at that age? That’s… I’ve never heard of such a thing.” He held a sad expression. Selim struggled to recognize it.

    “It’s nothing,” Selim said, “Amestris is mostly peaceful and our only two major enemies are, at the moment, fighting civil wars and dealing with mass revolutions.” The look didn’t go away. Colbert just slowly, mournfully, shook his head

    “I…” Colbert paused, “I wish you the best of luck in whatever you pursue.” And he continued walking. Selim studied the man as he walked away and it was only after Colbert left his sight that he realized what that emotion was.

    Pity.

    “So our scientific friend has a few skeletons in his closet,” Selim pondered, “It can’t be that awful. He doesn’t strike me as the type.” He rubbed his chin. His eyes widened and he drew his hand away, snapping his fingers, “Ah! Right, food! I can’t believe I forgot!” he hurried to the kitchen.

    Siesta was a sweet girl. More than that, she was quick to notice him. “Oh! Um, Miss Vallière’s familiar!”

    He smiled at her, “Please, my name is Selim Bradley.” He mock-laughed, “I must wonder how long it will take others to learn how to say my name.” She giggled.

    “May I ask why you are here?” Siesta asked him.

    Selim nodded, “I feel I should repay you for feeding me and, well…” he scratched the back of his neck, “I have a very high metabolism, so…”

    “You’re still hungry? I’m not surprised.” Siesta beamed, “I made that cake and brewed that tea myself!”

    “They were excellent. Some of the finest cuisine I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth, I assure you.” Siesta swooned.

    “You flatterer,” she said to him, “But you’re going to have to try a bit harder if you want anything else. Here, I’m going to be serving platters to some of the students. You can help.”

    “And then I get food?” he asked.

    “Yes.”

    “Show me to my first, milady.”

    And so Siesta blushed, “Right this way, kind sir,” she said, playing along.
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    Siesta was a gem in a pile of rocks, Selim thought as he served food to yet another student. Everything about her seemed like a breath of fresh air. Her hair, her eyes, even her skin tone… it reminded him more of home than it did of this place he was in.

    He carried a silver tray covered in dessert cakes. Siesta would place the cakes carefully onto the plate with tongs before serving them one at a time to the nobles. But he noticed somebody standing out from all the rest.

    The curly blond hair… The frill-trimmed shirt… That self-important, smug look on his face… Selim never forgot a face. “…Guiche.” He muttered with slightly narrowed eyes. He edged a bit closer to listen.

    Guiche grasped a rose from his shirt pocket and twirled it as his friends poked all sorts of fun at him.

    “So, Guiche! Who’re you going out with now?”

    “Who’s your lover, Guiche?”

    “Go out?” asked Guiche in faux contempt, “I hold no one woman in such special regard. A rose, after all, blooms for the pleasure of many.”

    …Asshole.’ Selim thought nothing more of it and turned to continue serving cakes. It would keep his mind off this narcissist jackass. Yet as he turned to go, something fell from Guiche’s pocket. Selim’s eyes narrowed, ‘A bottle?’ For the briefest moment, he entertained the thought of telling Guiche he’d dropped something. But then, he thought otherwise. ‘It’s obviously something important… and it would be oh so awful if he just left it on the ground.’ A wide grin, ‘Sucks to be him, I guess.

    He kept serving cakes. Siesta, unfortunately, was not necessarily so wise. Or, perhaps, she was just a nicer person than he was. He turned to see that the girl with the tongs had gone to pick up the bottle. “Excuse me, sir? You dropped something.” Guiche didn’t respond and, instead, kept talking. Selim frowned.

    He walked up to Siesta, “Come on, let’s go. We’ve got to serve these cakes, right?”

    She looked at him briefly, “But he dropped something. I should return it.” Her voice was louder than his and more attention-grabbing.

    “It’s his fault and folly. Let that be.”

    She shook her head, “But that’s wrong.” And she put the bottle on the table, “Sir?” she said again, “You dropped this.” Her tone remained totally polite from start to finish.

    “That’s not mine. What are you talking about?” Guiche said to her. With that alone, Selim’s worries were confirmed. Guiche’s ever-noisy friends started making their comments.

    “Oh? That perfume, isn’t that Montmorency’s?”

    “Yeah! That vivid purple color is the perfume that Montmorency only mixes for herself!”

    “So to have something like that fall out of your pocket, Guiche, means that you’re going out with Montmorency now, right?”

    “No, wait, listen to me. I’m saying this for the sake of her reputation, but…”

    Selim didn’t stick around to hear anything else, already retreating with Siesta in tow. “W-What? Selim!” she protested.

    “I don’t think we should stick around to find out how this goes.” He said to her, “From the sound of it, he’s going to be looking for a scapegoat really soon.”

    “What makes you say that?”

    Two slaps echoed throughout the courtyard. “LIAR!” and then the sound of something like water splattering all over something else. Selim didn’t dare look.

    “That.” He replied simply.

    Their retreat was interrupted. “Stop right there.” His voice was chilly, certainly compared to how it was beforehand. Guiche spun his body about on the chair and crossed his legs with a flourish, always the man of the hour. “Thanks to your thoughtless actions, the reputation of two ladies has been damaged. How will you take responsibility?” Selim readied himself for a defense. He wasn’t about to let this guy hurt Siesta! She gave him food!

    …and she was innocent in all of this. That too.

    Siesta gulped, “I-I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t-”

    “I wasn’t talking to you, maid.” Guiche said, “I was talking to him!”

    Selim looked at him for a moment, “…What.”

    “You! You coerced this innocent lady into tarnishing the status of two other girls! You, you shameless womanizer, what have you to say for yourself?”

    “…What.”

    “What? What?” Guiche mocked, “Is that all you can say, commoner? Are you damaged?”

    Selim’s eyes narrowed, “I could ask you the same, fool. It’s your fault for two-timing. If Siesta didn’t say anything, somebody else probably would have.” Guiche’s friends burst out laughing.

    “Listen, server, you made that maid put that bottle on the table! I pretended not to know anything, didn’t I? Would it have hurt to have called her off?”

    He didn’t want to place Siesta in trouble for being too nice for her own good. He really didn’t. But, at the same time, he hated being falsely accused of something when he knew he could defend himself.

    “Would it have hurt to have dated only one girl?” he returned. This, at least, he could argue with him on. “Guiche, you’d run the moment a girl asked you to marry her. Wouldn’t you? And if you knocked a girl up, you’d leave her. Wouldn’t you? It’s people like you I just can’t stand. I hate people who can’t commit to an action, an ideal… even a love. I can’t stand them. They make me sick.” The crowd was suddenly very silent.

    “You…” Guiche trailed, “I remember you. You’re the familiar of Zero.”

    “My name,” Selim growled, “Is Selim Bradley. I didn’t come here looking for a fight, but if I have to beat it into you…!”

    “It would seem that you don’t know the proper etiquette for addressing a noble.”

    Selim stood and looked at him with thin eyes, “I know how to address nobles. You, however, hardly qualify in my book.”

    “…Very well. Then I shall teach you a lesson about respect! A perfect way to relieve some stress,” Guiche stood up, “How amusing.”

    And even as Guiche boasted of his victory to be, even as Guiche told him to face him in the Vestri Court… Selim lamented, for he only wanted a little more food.
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    End Chapter 4
     
  5. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    Mrs. Bradley was too old to rear a child. Yet, once, Selim asked if he could have a brother like Al. He asked if he could have a big brother. When Selim was eight years old, his wish was half-granted. Indeed, he had an older sibling by about a year. But she wasn’t what he expected.

    Her name was Lyra. She was from Creta. She was very pretty. Short, black hair and pale skin were complimented by a gentle stature. She would grow up to be beautiful, of this Mrs. Bradley held no doubt.

    She was an orphan from Creta. Not much was known about her. She was very polite and something about her just struck Mrs. Bradley. After less than two weeks in an orphanage on the border, she was adopted by the Fuhrer’s family.

    It made the presses for a few days but quickly died down. It was an interesting story, but not attention grabbing enough to keep the readers occupied.

    Selim didn’t know what to think of her. On the one hand, she was very depressing and didn’t say much. On the other hand, she was very kind. She was quiet and she was shy.

    One thing he noticed was that she always wore gloves. She never ever went anywhere without her gloves. They were old, brown things – made of leather and carefully constructed. They were a little too big for her, but she said she’d grow into them.

    He was fine with that. If it was a secret, she’d tell him.

    She was his big sister, after all.

    It was three weeks after she was adopted into the family that Selim finally saw her without her gloves. He gasped. She saw him… and took a step back. At first, he saw fear. Then, slowly, her head turned to the side in shame. Yet Selim could only shout, “So cool! What are they made of?!”

    She was surprised. “Um…Umm… ” How could she respond? “Platinum… and titanium… there’s a little bit of lead, too.”

    “Can I, well, can I touch them?” it was asked with such childish innocence that she could only nod.

    “…Sure. Go ahead.”

    He reached out, slowly, as though they would disappear… and touched them with such gentleness and care it almost made her heart burst. “What happened?” he asked softly.

    “…The Black Hand.”

    “…The terrorists?”

    She flinched, “Yes. They… They broke into my home… And then they,” she hiccupped, “They…”

    He hugged her. “It’s okay, now. You’re not there, anymore. Right, big sister?”

    For a while, the girl with metal fingers just cried on Selim’s shoulder. What more could she do?

    Such was the beginning of a bond between siblings.
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    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 5: Lotus
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    The concept of child soldiers was not as foreign as one would think to the mind of Jean Colbert. He was a veteran of many conflicts. Some were genuine with participants on either side trading blows. Some were less genuine and more of a massacre than an honest act of duty from a soldier to another soldier.

    But he had seen children take up arms before. He had seen them do so willingly… and he’d seen them do so unwillingly. He’d seen just about every possible atrocity on this green earth. And yet, when faced with a young man who came from a country that would legally admit you into their military at such a young age during peacetime… Something about that set him on edge.

    His home must be very militaristic to allow such a thing.’ Colbert thought as he rounded a corner. He frowned a bit. ‘And I never actually got to take a closer look at those runes… This is going to bother me for a long while.

    He was a researcher at heart. He was a curious person. When something happened and he wasn’t around to see it or experience it, he was the type who asked the most questions. He’d examined the binding runes of every contracted summon and only Louise’s went unexamined. His disposition prevented it. So Jean had to wonder.

    Was it a proper contract at all?

    It was plausible that she’d hired a person from an unknown part of Germania to pose for her familiar. But the Vallière family was extraordinarily racist. It was a fact. Their hatred of all things Germanian was legendary, perhaps due to the outrageously longwinded feud between them and the von Zerbst. He doubted Louise would sink so low as to have somebody be hired for it.

    But if she was desperate enough…

    However, there was no evidence to prove this. The Germanian dialect the man, Selim, knew was too odd to be native. Perhaps he was born in a colony of theirs from far, far away?

    No. Germania’s colonies were lost during a rebellion; a half-Albionese man, George Franklin, acted as the leader in that little incident. So if he wasn’t a colonial citizen and he wasn’t a Germanian, where did Selim come from? His features almost suggested he was from Rub… but that wasn’t right, either. His eyes were wrong and he demonstrated none of their customs.

    But, they knew so little of those customs at all. Was it possible they had advanced? Or had Germania somehow conquered them?

    No. This was all farfetched. To get to Rub, you’d have to go through the land of the elves. Germania wouldn’t dare try it. He sighed. More and more questions, but none of the answers were coming to him. Maybe if he talked with Headmaster Osmond…?

    There was a thunderous explosion. The shockwaves alone threw him to the ground, stunned. Colbert did not move for more than a few moments. When he did, it was quickly and with purpose. He ran towards the explosion.

    Whatever had caused that blast, he somehow knew that it involved Louise…
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    …Earlier…

    He was not pleased.

    No. It wouldn’t be too hard to say that Selim Bradley was royally pissed off. “Selim, please, don’t do this! You’ll be killed!”

    He barked a laugh before regarding her with a very serious expression, “After I beat him, I want a meal for the ages. Think you can arrange that?”

    “W-What…?”

    “I’m talking chicken, cow, pork, your finest seasonings… soups, too! And the salads and fruit bowls, I’d like those as well! I want food after this. Can you supply it?”

    “U-Um… sure… I guess…”

    “Excellent.” He nodded only once. Selim adjusted his hat and started walking to the Vestri Court, “Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me, I’m going to go choke a bitch.”

    “U-Um… Mister Bradley!”

    “…What?” his voice was chilly.

    “What should I tell Miss Vallière?”

    “Tell her, whatever. I don’t really care.”

    When he left her sight, she sighed. He was such a nice man, too. But now, going up against the nobility, there was no way he could win.

    Yet even as she cleaned up after the many nobles who had now left, she heard the commotion at the Vestri Court. Shouts and applause, cries of distress, and even the sound of something clanging in a most unpleasant fashion… She considered taking a look.

    But she didn’t.

    It was too horrible to consider what might be happening to him while she did this simple chore. So, she didn’t. She kept her mind on the many dishes.

    No matter how hard it was.

    The pressure became unbearable when an explosive noise knocked her down. She didn’t know how long she was on the ground, unmoving, from the force of it. But when she stood, there was a ringing in her ears. Somebody was shouting at her… one of the professors? “Are you alright?” he was asking her.

    “I-I’m fine…! What was that, just now?”

    “I don’t know.” He said, “But I’m going to find out.”

    This time she would not miss out, she decided. Siesta followed Jean Colbert to the Vestri Court.
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    …Earlier…

    Louise wasn’t sure what to think. Her familiar had disappeared in search of food, announced that he was an atheist in stride, and had now, at least according to Malicorne, gone off to duel Guiche.

    What was he thinking? There was no way for a commoner to defeat a noble no matter how skilled he or she was! It couldn’t be done! All thoughts stopped when she saw Selim standing there in the Vestri Court facing Guiche with an expression that could only mean pain.

    Selim Bradley stood in front of Guiche de Gramont with a stormy look on his face. He was ready to hurt. Guiche took it all in stride. For him, this was a childish performance at best. Still, he had to play the part of the hero… did he not?

    Yet it was Selim who spoke first and took control of the script from him. “You’ve got a lot of nerve.” He said to Guiche, “What exactly is it about me that would leave you so threatened that you would drag me here to be publicly assaulted? My cheery disposition?”

    “…It would appear that the commoner has a mouth on him.” Guiche snidely remarked.

    Selim nodded carefully. As though speaking to a child he said, “Yes, yes, very good, Guiche. Your observational skills stun and awe me. Did you further deduce from this fact that I have eyes and a nose, as well?”

    Guiche scowled, “For you to have shown up at all is testament to your bravery. This is only stupidity, now. Cease your unpleasant remarks, or this will only become harder on yourself.”

    “Unpleasant?” Selim asked him, “You don’t know the meaning of the word, you piece of-”

    “Familiar!” Louise snapped, “I order you to stand down and apologize!”

    He turned to look at her very slowly and very deliberately. His voice came out softly and disbelievingly, as though he had no idea he was even saying what was being uttered. “What.” He said flatly. ‘I seem to be doing that a lot, lately.’ He reflected as Louise responded.

    “I order you to surrender, familiar!” she said to him.

    “…Yeah, that’s not happening.” Selim said in return. He pointed at Guiche, “This guy, is a moron… and an ass. And I’m going to hurt him for messing with me.”

    “No,” Louise growled, “You are not…!”

    “Can’t keep a leash on your familiar, eh, Zero?” Guiche mocked, “It’s obvious why you fear for his life. Perhaps if you beg, I won’t humiliate this animal.”

    “Guiche, you…!”

    “Tell me that you are a Zero. Tell us all that you are a Zero… and he will walk away from this. It’s that simple.”

    Louise’s breath hitched. Would she let her one success perish? Thoughts swirled throughout her mind like so many whirlpools and just as tumultuously, they crashed upon the edges of her skull… and left her breathless with the realization. ‘If I tell them I’m a failure… he lives. But if I don’t, then my familiar will…’ if nothing else, what she was about to do solidified her in Selim’s eyes as a good person.

    “I’m… I’m a… I am a Z-”

    But there was no way in hell that he was about to watch this good person destroy herself for his sake and for the sake of something he got himself into. “Louise,” he said calmly, “If you finish that sentence, I will be angry with you.” It was said very simply. It wasn’t calm, but gentle. Yet Louise could feel the fury behind it.

    Selim was a person who was just as good at getting openly angry as he was at concealing it and revealing a bitter and frosty anger. This was an Antarctic version of the latter and made her stop moving entirely. She would not be controlled by her familiar. She would not

    “I’m not angry with you.” He said, “But I’m angry at him. Don’t break yourself down for me and my mistakes and actions. They are as much my own as yours are your own. We are all individuals, special in our own ways… And, as individuals, we are responsible for every action we perform. Guiche pissed me off and I rose to it, like a child. But, now, I’m going to have to beat some sense into him that antagonizing me was a very bad idea. Go, stand over there with your classmates where you will not be harmed,” he gestured with a single hand towards the spectators, “And watch.”

    “And what will you do, familiar?” she asked, “What can you do?”

    He smiled, “You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?”

    She stared at him for a moment, unsure how to react. Louise nodded and stepped to the side to let her familiar be. He regarded his opponent, Guiche. “So, as I was saying… You don’t know the meaning of the word unpleasant, you cheap, lying, no good, rotten, low-life, snake licking, dirt eating, inbred, prissy, ignorant, blood sucking, mole-kissing, brainless, dick-less, hopeless, melodramatic, dumbass, bug eyed, stiff legged, spotty lipped, hay headed, sack of unidentified chimera shit!”

    And just like that, the time for words and trading insults had come to an end. “My name is Guiche de Gramont. My Runic name is ‘The Bronze’; hence, I am Guiche the Bronze. As such, my Bronze Valkyries will be your opponents.” He waved his rose and the petals fell off and unto the earth, reforming into a statue of shining metal.

    Selim stared at it for all of two seconds before he finally said, “That piece of metal crap that violates the Law of Equivalent Exchange is your secret weapon? Guiche, what you’ve just shown me is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen – everyone who has seen that is now dumber for having laid eyes on it. May the god you worship have mercy on your soul,” he looked at the construct as it began to charge, “Because I sure as hell won’t.”

    When it was within arm’s reach of him, he spun around the construct and struck with his hand open. The fingertips pointed out as though it were a spear and pierced the metal structure with ease before pulling out.

    The golem turned to continue fighting and brought a fist down only for it to be deflected with a casual bat of Selim’s hand that dented the metal and left its body open to a positively vicious right hook.

    Its torso destroyed, the golem struggled to stand before it was promptly euthanized via decapitation by hand. Selim dropped the twisted and warped metal to the ground. There was a dull thump sound. He looked at Guiche, “Next.”

    “You… How disrespectful…! I refuse to lose to the likes of you!” and then several petals grew into several valkyries. “Defeat him! Crush him!”

    They charged all at once. Selim grinned. All at once and, quite literally, the gloves came off.

    Louise had never seen much of her familiar because of his suit. His outfit covered almost every part of his body leaving only his face and head visible to the world. Even then, he wore a hat. So when he removed the white gloves that he’d been wearing since the beginning, she was surprised.

    There was a glint of steel and the sound of clapping hands. Then blue lightning splattered the area around her familiar. He grinned viciously, “Let me show you, Miss Vallière, the power of an explosion…!”

    With gusto, he slammed his hands on the ground.

    The blast alone was deafening. The shockwaves sent the observers tumbling to the ground. Guiche had to close his eyes. When they opened, it was to a crater shaped from nothing that engulfed half of his summoned Valkyries. They were warped beyond all recognition and thrown as so much shrapnel into the wall behind him that it glittered as though a deliberate decoration.

    They were never coming out and would be testament either to his defeat or his victory against this unknown foe. Selim held naught but mirth in his eyes. He recognized Guiche’s thought process well enough. Seeing that he had golems left, Guiche sent them at Selim with what bordered on reckless abandon.

    Selim grinned widely. How funny. Guiche still thought he stood a chance.

    There were only three Valkyrie remaining and one was missing an arm. His eyes glowed as he ran at speeds that would have broken another human beings legs and he became as the juggernaut, unstoppable. With his hands crying forward Transmutation Circles abuzz, it was a simple matter to convert the bronze to one of its base elements – tin. From there, he made aluminum.

    And much like aluminum cans, it fell apart with almost no resistance to the significantly greater force being applied to it. The sudden stop in his momentum rocketed the one valkyrie far away from him and across the field where Guiche could see the result of the sudden practice of Alchemy. Where once it was a mighty bronze, it was now a pathetic shade of grey.

    Guiche whimpered but did not stop and sent the remaining two at him. The one with the missing arm put up a pathetic fight. Without even bothering to clap his hands, Selim assumed a fighting position and decked the valkyrie in what could pass as a face. It caved in easily. A second punch to the chest left yet another hole. But this valkyrie would be finished by the last as in a desperate attack, Selim ducked out of the way and allowed a spear to pierce his opponent.

    He clapped his hands again and Guiche would swear it was not the explosion that gave him a ringing noise in his head. Selim did not so much spin or dance around as much as turn lazily to touch the Valkyrie. Promptly and without any signs except that horrible blue lightning, the valkyrie exploded. One of its legs landed a short distance away from Guiche.

    Nobody could hear a word being said, their ears were still in pain from the initial blast. But that didn’t matter. They wouldn’t have heard his murmurings, anyway. “This is what you get, Guiche. You called down the thunder… so here comes the lightning.” Selim fell to a single knee and leaned in very close to Guiche. He placed a hand on Guiche’s wrist and, smiling, let loose another batch of blue lightning.

    It was a transmutation of at least Square level, manipulating the fabrics and metal buttons into something else with ease. The challenge came from converting nearby dirt into sand before hyper-pressurizing it into glass. It was turned into a watch on Guiche’s wrist. Louise could hear a ticking as her senses came back to her. Guiche looked down at the thing.

    “D-Don’t tell me…!” he spoke in hushed and terrified tones as he looked at the ticking clock. There was a small box under it with strings attached made of a material she did not know. But based on his explosive talents and the skull at the top of it, it could only be one thing, “No… NO!” he looked at Selim, “Please… Please! Take it off!”

    “Familiar…” she said, “Get that off of him.” Selim did not respond. He, instead, looked at Guiche. His smile widened only further.

    “TAKE IT OFF! OH GOD! GET IT OFF!”

    “We’re trying!” cried one of Guiche’s friends, “It won’t budge!”

    “Familiar!” Louise snapped, “Get that off of him, now!”

    Selim just kept watching with an ever-growing smile on his face. At this point, he no longer had cheeks. Only a long, wide smile… “I yield! I YIELD! Bradley!”

    Then the worst happened. For despite the many attempts of the students and his friends, the hand of the clock reached the skull with a final tick.

    …A second passed…

    Then the top sprung off to show a little, yellow bird made of metal. It was a cute thing. He could hear mechanized tweets. “It’s a boring, old toy,” Selim said to him, “Please give it to a family member or something.” He turned and walked away from Guiche with a wide smirk on his face.

    Guiche looked at the retreating man, “W-What are you…?”

    Selim regarded him this time with a neutral expression, “My name is Selim Bradley, the White Lotus Alchemist,” He tilted his hat slightly in mild acknowledgment, “It’s been a pleasure.” He walked up to Louise as the other students helped Guiche up and surveyed the damage. “I told you I’d kick his ass.” He said simply.

    Not for the first time, Louise had to resist the urge to strangle her familiar. But as he walked with her, she noticed something and gave a quick breath. It wasn’t a gasp, but a moment where her breath seemed to hitch. “Familiar… What did you do to your hands?”

    On his palms were circles of simple designs while his fingers were… “They’re called automail.” He said to her, “I lost my fingers doing something very stupid. So, they were replaced.”

    “They look so strange… It’s like they’re armor.”

    “They’re designed to always stay on, unlike other automail. And they’re a pain to put back in properly if they’ve all been removed.” He gave a shrug. Somebody was waving them over with a simple gesture, “Come on.” He said to Louise, “Professor Colbert wants us for something.”
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    “So,” Headmaster Osmond began, “Tell us a little about yourself, Mister Bradley.”

    Selim’s smile was very thin. His response was clipped, but polite, “Please,” he requested, “Call me Selim.”

    Old Osmond chuckled, “I understand… Mister Bradley is your father, right?” he asked this jovially, not expecting what Selim said next.

    “I never knew my father. From my understanding,” he continued as though speaking of the weather, “I was adopted shortly before he died in a military coup d’état.”

    There was a somber silence. “…I’ll assume he was a good man?”

    “To some, he was. To others, he was a monster. His actions while he was alive have sparked a lot of debates.”

    “Debates? Why, with all the rumors flying left and right I’d expect the king to do something about it…”

    “King?” Selim asked.

    “Oh, sorry, Queen, I guess.”

    Selim didn’t say anything for a moment. Louise fidgeted a little. Then Selim started to laugh, “Oh… Oh! Hah! If the Fuhrer heard you call him that… Hah!”

    “…Fuhrer?”

    Selim’s chuckles died down, “We don’t have royalty in our country. We understand the concept of it well enough and, maybe, at one point our country might have had some form of royalty… but we operate on a military-democratic government. The people choose who leads them by popular vote and the Fuhrer serves for a six year term before reelections. He can run any number of times, but cannot restrict competition without fear of being impeached and removed from office. Every single Fuhrer, in order to be elected, must have served in the military for a minimum of ten years and at least surpassed the rank of captain.”

    Old Osmond stared at Selim as though observing some sort of new species of animal. “But you can use magic… without a wand. Don’t you get some sort of prestige?”

    Selim held up a single finger, a gesture to ask Osmond to pause. Louise noticed his gloves were back on. He reached into the pocket of the jacket of his suit and pulled out a silver pocket watch. “This identifies me as an Alchemist of the State. Newer ones are made out of different materials, but I was lucky enough to get this as a gift.” He smiled slightly, “It’s a classic.”

    “I see…”

    “The exam for joining used to be a challenge. But a few years ago, Central called in the best and brightest to take another look at it. It was made much harder and increased the number of requirements for joining, but it wasn’t as selective as the previous one. If you had the potential to do something great, you could join.”

    “And the benefits are…?”

    “State Alchemists are automatically given the rank of Major upon passing the exam. I like to think I’m one of the best, but… that wouldn’t be very true. You wanted to know more about me, right?” Selim asked, changing the subject.

    “Yes, please.”

    “Well, my name is Selim Bradley. I was raised in the capital of my country by the wife of its previous leader and by the Fuhrer, himself. I am seventeen years old and completed the State Alchemist examination at the age of thirteen. This makes me the second youngest State Alchemist in history.”

    “You keep calling it Alchemy.”

    “Because that’s what it is.”

    “So, you are an Earth Mage?”

    Selim gave a long, suffering sigh. “No.” he said, “No I am not.” He leaned back in the chair provided for him and licked his lips, “An Alchemist is a scientist, first and foremost. We are researchers. Our motto is ‘Be Thou For The People’. As a State Alchemist, I must also be able to act as a soldier in wartime. But we are not magicians, sorcerers, prophets, deities, mages, warlocks, witchdoctors, demons, casters, conjurers, spiritualists, mystics, or gods. We have been called these things and been mistaken for these things many times and, to the disappointment of those many, have corrected them just as many times if not more so. The art of Alchemy is not exclusive to a bloodline and can be taught to anyone who is willing to learn.”

    “How is it different than magic?”

    “That’s easy. Magic doesn’t seem to operate on any laws that I can see. I’m sure they’re there… but they are not the same laws Alchemy operates on.”

    “Laws?”

    “In science, there are several principles worthy of significant mentioning and reference. Alchemy, as a science, has more than a few. But the number one thing you must understand about Alchemy is that it operates on something called Equivalent Exchange. This is divided into the Law of Conservation of Mass and the Law of Shared Properties, also sometimes called the Law of Natural Providence. The first part states that you cannot create something out of nothing. In order to construct a material, you must have an equal amount of source material. For example, let’s say I want to turn lead into gold. Alchemy can do this to no limit.”

    Colbert looked like he wanted to say something. Old Osmond stopped him with a raised hand. “Continue.” He prodded.

    Selim smiled slightly, “Very well. Now, the Law of Conservation of Mass says that energy and matter can neither be created from nothing nor destroyed to the point of elemental nonexistence. To create an object weighing in at a single kilogram at least one kilogram of material is necessary and destroying an object weighing one kilogram would reduce it into a set of parts, the sum of which would weigh a single kilogram. Still with me?” he asked. He didn’t wait for an answer, “Good.
    “Now, the Law of Natural Providence states that an object or material made of a particular substance or element can only be transmuted into another object with the same basic makeup and properties of that initial material. In other words, an object or material made mostly of water can only be transmuted into another object with the attributes of water. So if I had a kiloliter of water, even if I solidified it into a kilogram of ice, I would not be able to convert it into either a kilogram of lead or gold. Both of the later elements are metals and are too radically different for the transmutation to take effect without rebounding and harming the alchemist.” Louise slowly raised a hand. “Yes?” he asked.

    “I have no idea what you’re saying at all, familiar. Speak slower and shorten it!” Louise said to him sharply.

    Selim looked at her, “…You’re joking, right? Louise, these are the simplest rules for Alchemy there are. You can’t make something from nothing and you can’t convert an element into another element if they don’t share enough properties between them. Is that better?”

    “Yes! Why did you not just say that instead of going into a long-winded explanation?”

    “You gave me one very similar not too long ago, if I recall.”

    “I didn’t talk for over a minute without taking a breath while speaking so fast that half the people in the room couldn’t understand!”

    “It was only the two of us-”

    “That’s not the point and you know it, familiar!” she yelled at him. Inwardly, he marveled at her lung capacity.

    “From the sounds of it, Alchemy is limited when compared to magic. How much does it cost to use?” Osmond questioned him.

    “Nothing.” answered Selim, “Amestrian Alchemy is powered by the motion of tectonic plates. In order to use Alchemy, you need only have some knowledge and the ability to construct a perfect Transmutation Circle.”

    “Transmutation Circle?”

    “That’s a whole other can of worms that I’m not even going to begin to get into. Right now, I have a feast to eat.” He looked at Louise, “And you need to learn to have a little more faith in me.”

    “Familiar!”

    He only laughed.
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    End Chapter 5
     
  6. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    There is something to be said for the determination of a human being in the face of death. It was that final struggle that showed the world what a human being was like. Such was the kind of struggle only visible in the event of a battle or a fight or a conflict. It was why assassins were not highly revered for their actions.

    The man in question was called the ‘Magic Bullet’ of Creta. He was referred to as such because of his skill with a sniper rifle.

    Every shot fired was a kill. This, in itself, is only mildly miraculous. A sniper can gain a reputation for killing many people, but with a weapon that fires bullets powerful enough to dismember the target on contact; this was not too amazing in retrospect.

    What made the Magic Bullet so frightening was that the paths of his shots were never linear. He was best known for firing a bullet that would ricochet into his target for an instant kill. Every single time.

    Mrs. Riza Mustang was the first to say that this was theoretically possible only once or twice, having done so herself, but these sorts of shots were like a hole in one while playing golf. They did not happen every single time. That’s not how they worked. More than that, the bullets did not ricochet once. They would ricochet no less than two or three times before striking a target.

    Every shot seemed more impossible than the last, but as the bodies piled up in the West, it became very clear that the Magic Bullet was the most gifted sniper to grace the world with his presence.

    That terrified Amestris.

    One day, while riding in the back seat of an open vehicle, Captain Vato Falman became the first survivor of one of the Magic Bullet’s shootings.

    The bullet did strike him, but because he was kneeling over in the back seat at the time, it was not a lethal shot. He survived with a thin scratch for his troubles and the car sped away… but not before one of the rear tires was blown out by another shot. A final shot struck the engine.

    The vehicle exploded, killing two dozen civilians. Falman was hospitalized for two months. During his stay, Selim Bradley visited him.

    Vato was a friend of Mustang’s. Mustang and his allies were friends of the family, so to say. Their actions had saved his mother. Was it so surprising that he felt a sort of kinship with them for this?

    “Did you see him?” Selim asked, “Did you see the guy?”

    “Nobody sees the Magic Bullet, Selim,” Vato said to the boy, “Nobody.”

    “But you had to have seen him! You ducked!”

    “I didn’t dodge or duck. I got lucky. Look around this room,” Selim did so, “What do you notice about it?”

    “There’s no windows?”

    “Exactly.” Vato said, “There aren’t windows in the room opposite mine, either. And the windows of all the rooms on this floor have been boarded up. That door is locked at all times. Selim, I’m not out of the clear. This guy never misses.”

    “…Why are you telling me this?” Selim asked, “I’m just a kid!”

    “Yeah. And they’d never suspect a kid, right? Selim, I need you to memorize something for me. A few numbers, can you do that?”

    “Sure! I’m great with numbers!”

    Selim memorized them easily enough and told papa Grumman about the numbers later. Grumman smiled and nodded, “Alright. I understand. Thank you, Selim. You’ve been a very good boy today.” Later, Grumman contacted the Xingese government. “It has come to our attention that you are interested in long distance aviation and its possible military applications…”
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 6: Ardent
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    It was the first of many talks that Selim Bradley would have with Old Osmond, finding his company to be pleasant and enjoyable when compared to Louise who, for lack of better terms, was still an outright bitch.

    They would talk about politics. They would talk about people. They would talk about pretty much anything, really. Louise was growing used to her Familiar up and disappearing for hours at a time only for it to turn out he’s been speaking with Osmond.

    They were talks that sometimes became quite boring. Though sometimes, they could be interesting! Louise once sat through a particular discussion on magical creatures. “You have dragons, manticores, unicorns, and the like. We have the Chimera.”

    And so entered a line of interesting discussion, “We have those, too!” Louise said.

    “Are they naturally occurring?” Selim asked.

    “Yes.” replied Louise, “They’re a well known, uniform species.”

    “Ah,” said Selim, “That’s where we differ. Chimera… They are not naturally occurring creatures where I come from. Instead, Alchemists make them by combining two or more animals together. It is a very twisted form of Alchemy and tampers with life itself to construct something that shouldn’t necessarily exist, but it is not outlawed.”

    “What if somebody combines a human with these animals?” Osmond asked.

    “It kills them. Sometimes they survive, but most of the time they’re better off dead. A successful Chimera involving a human being is usually made with a lobotomized animal to prevent significant damage to the host brain and allow a smoother meld. Amestris does not officially practice the construction of Human Chimera except in rare cases where the action may save a dying person’s life. In some neighboring countries, however, it is an open practice that began with the illegal transportation of Shou Tucker’s notes.”

    “Shou Tucker?” Old Osmond questioned, testing the name on his tongue.

    Selim frowned deeply, “Shou is something of a bedtime story for the bad guys. See, a long time ago, there was a man who was called the Sewing Life Alchemist. He was Shou Tucker. His skill in constructing chimera was unrivaled. When he had to have his license renewed, he made a chimera that could talk. It was a stunning accomplishment – take note of that. But it only said one thing.”

    “Do I want to know?”

    “It said… “I want to die.” The chimera refused food and starved itself to death in its cage a little while later.”

    Louise frowned, “How awful…”

    “It gets worse. A while later, he had to make another chimera to prove he was worthy of the title State Alchemist. Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric caught him in the act. That previous chimera? The talking one? That was his wife. He used his wife in the transmutation. What those brothers found was a little girl and her dog fused into one creature. He’d used his daughter this time. The man and his little girl, if she could be called that anymore, were later killed. The man who did this was not penalized for his actions as that fate, if not a worse one, was going to be given to little Nina and her father later on.” He frowned, “Amestris does not have magical creatures. Our people are ones of science. In some ways, that’s amazing, but, in others… not so much.”

    It was an interesting discussion. But it was not a pleasant one.

    Old Osmond clapped his hands and spoke cheerily to help the mood, “Well, enough about that!” he looked at her, “Louise, tomorrow is the Day of the Void, and I’m sure you have much to plan with Selim, here.”

    “Day of the Void?”

    Louise nodded, “You wouldn’t know, would you? The Day of the Void is the holy day of rest. It is a day where-”

    “Oh, it’s Sunday.”

    “-we can – wait, what?”

    “You people obviously run on a different calendar system than mine. This is the last day of the week, right? For students, that means no classes…” he nodded, “Yes, that’s about right. We call this day Sunday where I come from.”

    “What kind of calendar do your people use, Selim?” Old Osmond asked.

    “Well, we use a seven day calendar.”

    “Ah! We use an eight day calendar! So, your ‘Sundays’ must come far more frequently! All that time…!”

    Louise sighed loudly and started tugging her familiar out of the room, “Let’s go, familiar!” all this talk was growing to bore her. Was it so surprising she’d try to escape from it?

    “Same time tomorrow?” Selim called to Osmond.

    Osmond chuckled, “Better make it weekly! I might not have the time!”

    “Busy man!” Selim said happily to him. He looked to Louise, “You didn’t have to be so rude as to pull me out of the room, you know.”

    She scowled at him, “Familiar…!”

    “Oh, right! It’s lunchtime. And it’s also time for food!”

    “Is that all you think about?!”

    “I’m in the mood for chicken…”

    Louise just shouted at him.
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    The first time that Selim entered the kitchen after completely devastating Guiche, he noticed a dead silence. Not a person there said a word to him. None of them mentioned his presence. They only did their jobs.

    The first to speak up was a man named Marteau, the head chef, a well-rounded man well into his forties. Naturally, he was a commoner, but with his position of head chef at the Academy, he earned as much as a lower class noble, a fact he could be proud of.

    When he looked at Selim he only said, “Who are you to come here?” it was an honest question. “Aren’t you going to sit with your companions out there?”

    Selim’s facial expression, a pleasant smile, did not change. “Well, I’ll answer your question with another question, what makes you think that I’m a noble?”

    “You used magic.” It was a simple response.

    Selim’s smile slightly faded. He did not want to explain again how Alchemy from Amestris was different from magic. Instead, he took an alternate approach. “But does that really make me a noble? I wasn’t a noble in my home. I wasn’t a noble in my military. I wasn’t a noble when I was summoned here.” He gestured around, “No matter what powers I may have, I am as common as you or Siesta.”

    “And with that logic, you think you can come back here?”

    “I know I can come back here because, no matter what, I treat people the way they’re meant to be treated. People are people, no matter where they are from. If Guiche were god, I’d have still beaten the snot out of him for being an insulting brat. But you’re not a brat. You’re the head chef. You are a man who has earned his position and has struggled and toiled for years to earn himself a healthy income and a good life. You didn’t quit, even when it became hard. Sir, I admire people like you.”

    Marteau smiled, “Huh… You know, you’re not so bad yourself, Bradley.”

    There were no problems after that. Selim, through his actions, demonstrated himself a sympathizer for the common folk and even acted as one of them. For this, he was soon given the name “Our Scholar”. For what else was he? “Scientist” didn’t easily translate into the language here, so that would have to do.

    Seim had no problems with it as long as he was fed.

    He put an arm around Selim’s shoulders. “Here, Our Scholar! Let me place a kiss upon your forehead! Come on! I insist!”

    Selim laughed with him jovially and let it go as a culture thing. As long as he didn’t go the extra mile, he was fine.

    So it went. Selim would visit the kitchen. He would talk with Marteau for a bit, but then came the fun part. There were always enough leftovers that it would be a waste to throw them out. Even after the servants had their fill, there was still an outrageous portion left over.

    Selim fixed the problem when he was able to easily consume all of that food. It was enough to feed to over a dozen people, but Selim just put it down like it was nothing. It was as amazing as it was admittedly disturbing. But Selim was just so polite that it didn’t matter!

    He would compliment the chefs for their hard work in feeding not only him, but the servants and all the students and staff of the Academy. They took the praise in stride. For, as Marteau once said, a true master never boasts.

    It was good advice.

    And Siesta, watching all along from the side, would grow admire the big eater more and more and more. Selim would say his final compliments and then he would leave.

    On one day of his visit, one of the cooks noticed a red shadow outside the window. But soon after he drew attention to it, the thing was gone. Selim saw it, however. There would be reckoning… he knew there would.

    With the end of a long meal, he would join Louise in her classes. He would ask his questions on magical theory. He would get answers occasionally, but other times he would find a moment where things didn’t add up.

    The idea of reagents to brew potions made sense to him. It was a form of chemistry that could be replicated if he knew the local plants well enough and their interaction with animals. But the concept of turning water to wine, materializing fireballs from nothing, levitating balls and sticks and balls out of the class windows for their familiars to fetch made him only more and more curious and furious.

    With such a strange sight happening in front of him, he realized he needed to learn how magic worked or he’d be sunk. For, thus far, it seemed that there were no real theoretical limitations to it.

    He once asked a question, “So how does water convert to wine?”

    The teacher tried to answer him.

    “Ah. So you’re completely ignoring the translation of the Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules into the necessary alcohol molecules while simultaneously, from nowhere, bringing grapes into the equation.” Selim said this with a deadly calm.

    When ignoring Selim failed, the teachers learned to defer him to Professor Colbert. However, as Colbert wasn’t omnipresent, Selim would write down his questions into a notebook for future reference. It would all be coded, of course. The notes of all Alchemists were coded.

    Once, Louise looked in his notebook. She turned to him and opened her mouth to say something before closing it. She opened her mouth again… and shut it. A third time: “Selim,” she said using his name, “What is this?”

    “That is the picture of a stick figure disemboweling another stick figure.”

    “…Why is this stick figure disemboweling another stick figure?” she took a closer look, “And… why does this stick figure look like a-?”

    “Science!” and Selim grabbed the notebook back from her. Nothing more was said.

    Once more, a lizard watched the passing lesson. A crimson shadow by the window before crawling away with a distinct ‘kyuru kyuru’… and once more, Selim frowned.

    It was not until night that Selim finally knew what the lizard was and wanted. “The salamander…?” Selim trailed.

    “Kyuru Kyuru!”

    For a moment, it looked harmless. Then it grabbed Selim with its mouth and dragged him along, “H-Hey! Careful! You’ll burn my suit!” the salamander only tried harder.
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    Kirche’s room was pitch dark, save for her salamander’s mild glow. Kirche’s voice commanded from the darkness, “Close the door.” Selim hesitated to do so. The room smelled awful. But, to be polite, he shut it.

    He wished sincerely he did not.

    “Welcome to my room.” She said to him.

    “It’s… It’s very dark in here.” He heard Kirche snap her fingers. Starting from the one nearest him lamps lit up one by one towards Kirche like streetlights in the evening. She looked at him, scantily clad- “No.”

    She blinked, “…What?”

    “You heard me,” he held a gloved hand over his mouth in an attempt to filter the stench of sex and bodily fluids.

    “You must think me a lowly, despicable woman… To be thought so is inevitable. Do you understand? My runic name is ‘Ardent’.”

    “…You introduced yourself as such. And your salamander…”

    “Flame.”

    “How creative,” he looked at her, “I’ll only say this one more time. A sexual relationship between the two of us wouldn’t just fail, it would fail spectacularly.”

    “Oh?” Kirche looked at Selim with moist, watery eyes. Any man would show his most primitive instincts after looking at these eyes. Selim was not any man. He was a man in a room that smelled awful.

    With a stunning taste in food came a powerful sense of smell. With this sense of smell, he could track people for miles much like a dog. More accurately, like a pig. So in a room of sex such as this, it was almost enough to cause him to throw up.

    “My lust is as flammable as hay… that’s why I suddenly called you here. Don’t you get it? Isn’t this really bad of me?”

    “Yes. Very.” Selim said in a clipped tone. He wanted to get out of here now.

    “But… I’m sure you’ll forgive me.”

    He looked at her for a moment, incredulous. “Your flirting is failing you. Do you realize this?”

    She blinked, “Huh?” No man had ever resisted her charms to this extent.

    “I’m not even going to go into how awful this room smells or how much I dislike your habits and how easily you sell yourself without regret, but I will say this much: Cease associating with me. There is nothing here for you.”

    “B-But… I love you!”

    “…what.”

    “I’m sure, to you, my love is sudden… Your grandeur in defeating Guiche is just so cool…! Like a hero of legends! Me, when I first saw you right at that moment, I was in love! Can you believe it? I was attracted to you just like that! Passion! Oh, this is passionate love!”

    “…Lady, you wouldn’t know love if it walked up to you and slapped you in the face twice, carved a hole in you and fucked it for hours.” His gaze was very hard, “You, ma’am, are a total disgrace to all female kind.”

    “You can’t honestly mean that.”

    “I do.” He chuckled bitterly, “O-ho-ho, I do. I mean it very much. I don’t like you. You aren’t loyal. You don’t love… you, miss, are a slut.” He looked at her, “You fuck whoever you please, and please whoever the fuck you want. I don’t like you at all.”

    She looked at him with a stunned expression.

    “What? You’ve never heard the truth from somebody before? You’re from another country, right? Germania, I’ve been told. Why aren’t you over there getting your education? Is it because you fucked the wrong guy?”

    The slap was completely unexpected, considering it was she who invited him to her room. But, then, he didn’t expect to fire off so many insults and get away cleanly.

    “You…” she looked at him not with anger but with absolute pain, “You bastard.”

    “You…” he mocked, “You nymphomaniac.” He stepped back, “Are we quite finished or may I leave?”

    “There must be something wrong with me for you to be like this! What is it! Anything, just tell me!”

    “…You’re fucking kidding me, right?” he growled, “I just told you. I don’t like you because you can’t stick with one person. See, Kirche, I admire the people who can stick to an ideal. Love is an ideal. For you to claim love to every single man isn’t just impossible, it’s selfish and wrong. That isn’t love. Love is the purest ideal, one that can only be achieved when you find that person who you cannot live without!”

    “Then there must be somebody you love!”

    “I love nobody. Not even myself. I will be the first one to admit that. But even if I did love a person, I could never love somebody as insecure and damaged as you.” he turned to leave, “Good night. Sweet dreams. Oh, and, fuck off, Kirche.”

    “But it is love! Love is sudden! It burns my body so quickly…!”

    “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” He shut the door behind him and left feeling very good about himself.

    Moments later, a beautiful playboy looked inside indignantly. “Kirche… I came to check because you weren’t there on time…”

    Kirche nonchalantly took out her wand from between her breasts and waved it without even looking at him. Flame shot out from a nearby lamp and flew into the gentleman at the window like a snake. The windows shut and locked, the flames went out, and Kirche began to cry.
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    Louise found Selim walking through the hall, “There you are!” she called, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you! Where have you been?”

    “Kirche thought it would be a fun idea to get a quick screw out of me. I said no.” he kept walking. She followed him.

    “Is that all you said, familiar?”

    “That and the truth.”

    “Truth?”

    “I only called her what she was.”

    Louise stopped walking. Selim followed suit two steps later when he noticed, “What? What is it, this time?”

    “…Remember when I told you not to do that? Remember when I said it could damage her reputation?”

    “I remember.”

    “Selim, what exactly did you say to her?”

    “I called her a slut.” Louise’s breath hitched. “What?! I’m sure she’s been called worse!”

    “No, Selim. She hasn’t. Do you know why I and every other girl in the academy haven’t insulted her or made comments on what she does? Do you?”

    “…No.” His eyebrows furrowed. She was calling him ‘Selim’. She never called him that. Not unless she was serious about something.

    “A few years ago while Kirche was in the Germanian Academia of Magic, their equivalent of our Academy, she got into a relationship. It was with one of the teachers. She fell in love with him. He said he was in love with her.”

    “What was so special about this?”

    “He was the first one, Selim. Her first. She loved him. And when he was done with her, he tricked her out of all of her savings and left her high and dry. She was expelled for seducing a member of the staff, he got off with a slap on the wrist, and her family transferred her here.” She looked at him, “And you know what, Selim? I don’t think she was willing. Most of us don’t.”

    “…Do you mean to say I just spent the last twenty minutes verbally assaulting a rape victim who never received psychological help?” all throughout the story his eyes had widened bit by bit. But when the realization hit him, it struck hard. “…oh… wow… I must look like a real ass right now.”

    Louise looked at her familiar in genuine total disappointment and shame. “Yes. Yes, you do. She is a von Zerbst. But she did not deserve whatever you said to her tonight and has never deserved the treatment you’ve been giving her. And you are going to apologize to her, whether you like it or not.” And he understood. This wasn’t about her honor as a Vallière. She genuinely saw what he did as wrong and was going to have him make it right.

    He felt a pang of growing respect for Louise at that moment.
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    The walk back to Kirche’s room took about ten minutes. She pointed at the door. “Well?” she said to him, “Open it.”

    He gave a shuddering sigh. He did not want to do this. He opened the door and the wave of odors struck him like a freight train. But he kept going. “Miss Zerbst, I-” He stopped speaking suddenly, his eyes wide. His hand clenched and blue light shone as a transmutation turned his automail fingers into blades. With quick speed he ran forward.

    “Selim!” Louise shouted in distress. She heard the sound of something snapping and entered the room. She looked. Pinned to the ceiling with basic magical transmutation was a sheet tied taut. In the middle, it had been cut apart. Kirche was on the ground, an angry red mark around her neck.

    She wasn’t breathing.

    “Louise, get a medic! Now! Kirche just tried to hang herself!”
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    End Chapter 6
     
    ijp92, Krein, Generalissimo and 5 others like this.
  7. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    The war between Amestris and Creta began with the sound of an explosion as a rocket was fired from a plane and struck a militarized zone. Creta scrambled to recover and fight back. Their response was to send winged chimera of varying sizes and shapes. Some with riders, others part human and operating with submachine guns.

    It was a surprisingly even dogfight for all of about two hours before the zeppelins came in. What should have been a massive boon for the Amestrians turned into their defeat when the chimera were able to take advantage of these giant structures, using them more as barricades and makeshift cover from the guns mounted on the many planes.

    Devastated by air but not by ground, the Amestrians pressed on with troops from all directions. Now having peaceful relations on the South and East borders meant a greater transfer of troops into what would be Amestris’s largest invasion for the past century.

    But the Creta line held. Chimera left and right, soldiers trained to fight as well as any Amestrian – even better, at times. Stolen information on Alchemy allowed the Cretan people their own, twisted form of it powered by volcanic action more than tectonic motion.

    For the second time in history, the State Alchemists were called upon. Creta had attacked them too many times. The Black Hand needed to be dealt with by any means necessary. The State Alchemists entered a conflict that was in some ways much like Ishbal, but in so many ways very different.

    This time, they would be fighting an enemy who had struck first. This was not a war forged by Homunculi, but by man. Grumman would later write that he originally considered the attack ‘overkill of the highest measure’ but reconsidered due to the ‘necessary reinforcement’.

    With the State Alchemists on their side, the war was now suddenly very even. Battles in the sky and on the ground raged as the West was quickly turned into a military zone… Families left the area in favor of fleeing to Central and South. Some even went as far as hiding deep in the East and taking trains to Xing to avoid the conflict.

    However, there really was nowhere safe in either country with air-based tactics now available. The Cretans were anything if not tenacious and were quick to develop a flying machine capable of avoiding radar detection. They went far past the Western front and proceeded to bomb Central.

    It was a very tense few weeks for Selim Bradley and his family as they and all the other citizens of Central learned to live in bunkers at the call of a siren. He was nine years old.

    “Big sister…” he said, “I’m… I’m scared…!”

    She hugged him, “It’ll be alright, Selim. They won’t get us.” She smiled, “They’ll never get us.”

    He hugged her back. But she was scared, too. He knew it. They had every reason to be afraid. Selim wasn’t really sure what frightened him most about everything that was happening.

    Was he scared of dying? Certainly. Who wouldn’t be afraid of death? But that wasn’t it… Was he scared for his sister? Was he scared for his family? He was but a child; he had every reason to be afraid for them as much as for himself.

    But no. None of these things frightened Selim nearly as much as a single, startling realization. The sounds of the rockets striking the city outside, the screams of the people running left and right, and the explosions signifying the destruction of the home he grew up in… yes, this was what scared him.

    Not the explosions or the screaming… but the fact that, on some primal and horrifying level, he enjoyed it. It made him nostalgic. Not for the first time since his stay in the bunkers, Selim slowly dragged himself to a corner when he was sure his family was asleep and proceeded to throw up.
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 7: Sunday
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    There’s something amazing about water magic that CPR and Xingese Alkahestry just couldn’t match. But a broken neck was beyond even the abilities of the Academy healers.

    …It was unfortunate that they couldn’t, but fortunate that Kirche hadn’t broken her neck. She had only dislocated it. Sheets made for a very poor rope and Kirche had never been one for measurements.

    Hanging took precise calculations and supplies. Had she made the sheets a little sturdier, she’d be dead right now. Instead, she caused damage to her wind pipe and twisted her neck a little too far. But she wasn’t dead.

    In Amestris, that kind of damage would still lead to the worst type of situation. But the Academy’s healers had seen every kind of injury what with all of the many magical accidents that happen every single year. They’d only been seeing more and more action since Louise joined.

    To them, this was a laughable and easily treatable injury. But when Selim asked about what they would do to prevent Kirche from trying again, they said the following: “Letting off a bit of steam is always good for a child like Kirche. I’m sure she’ll be fine when she wakes up.”

    For all their skill with the physical aspects of healing, they lacked even the slightest understanding of the human psyche. Mind you, Selim was not up to the task. But such a blatant disregard to what may become a repeat offender left him stunned.

    The first coherent sentence he formed was soon after meeting up with Louise again, “Your people are morons.”

    She looked at him, “Excuse me?”

    “You heard me.” He said, “I was in the wrong, entirely. But for there to be no method of helping a person after a traumatic experience… what is wrong with you people?”

    She looked at him as though he were the one who was daft. “What are you on about now, familiar? This is your fault, not ours. We kept the peace and remained silent. If you did the same-”

    “If I did the same, Kirche would have thrown herself into an increasingly self-destructive life cycle that would have ended with her in a similar state to how we found her. But then, nobody would be around to save her life. If I knew what had happened, I wouldn’t have been so harsh! I…”

    “What?” asked Louise, “What would you have done, familiar?”

    “I don’t know what I would have done!” he snapped, “I would have talked to her! I would have tried to help her! I… Damn it.” He shook his head, “I would’ve probably only worsened her condition with giving the wrong advice.”

    They were quiet for a while. Neither said a word. Louise broke the silence, “Come, familiar. I was originally going to take you to the market, but this event seems to have ruined the day for me.”

    Selim looked at her with wide eyes, “What…?” he didn’t move.

    “Well, familiar?” she said to him, “Come.”

    “Louise… How can you be so callous?” he asked, “Kirche… she didn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves what I did last night… You said that yourself! How can you just turn your back on her like this! You… You…!”

    “Familiar!” she snapped, spinning to look at him. There were tears in her eyes, he saw. “Come!”

    More silence. If one listened closely, they could hear the sound of Kirche breathing in the other room. They were in the infirmary. Most of the patients were sleeping now, but nobody had come yet to quiet them. Selim licked his dry lips, wishing he had a glass of water.

    “…I must be some kind of asshole.” He said aloud, “To even consider following that order. It’s tempting. It’s so tempting to run away from this and do whatever mundane thing you want of me just to get it out of my head. You have no idea how attractive an idea that is to me, right now, and yet… I already fucked up, Louise. I fucked up bad.” He took a deep breath, “I’m going to stand here and I’m going to wait. And I’m going to say sorry. I’m going to apologize until I can’t form the words, anymore, because that is the right thing to do.” He looked at her, “Just… Just go do whatever. It’s your day off. This is my fault…”

    Her eyes seemed to soften a little at the visible deflation of her familiar and her shoulders sagged. “…The familiar is the extension of the master. What you did was as much my fault as yours. If you’re going to stay here… if you insist on atoning for a mistake that I, by law, made… I should be here too.” Her smile was bitter, “It wouldn’t be right, otherwise.”
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    Tabitha normally loved her Days of Void. She could read books and catch up on any number of stories. She could research so much material. It was her day to be alone and have a quiet time all to herself.

    However, she could not focus on her reading.

    For a while now, Kirche and Tabitha had been close friends. Admittedly, what brought them together was a stupid little incident involving a group of boys who felt a little too insignificant. Yet it was that incident that made them inseparable. Some friendships are formed in times of great stress; others are formed in times that seem virtually meaningless…

    Kirche and Tabitha’s friendship just happened to find its roots in the righteous beating of a few people who shouldn’t have messed with them. Theirs was a friendship formed in triangle-class Fire and Wind spells that really hurt.

    For all the time Tabitha knew Kirche, she’d never been very quiet. Kirche was loud, impressive, boastful, flirtatious, and a bit of a braggart. But she had her soft side to her. She was kind enough and loyal to a fault. But Tabitha did not know Kirche’s… issue. She never learned why Kirche was in the Academy.

    With her suicide attempt, that changed very quickly.

    One could count on a single hand the number of people who drew Tabitha’s ire. Newly amongst them were two people. The first was the man who raped Kirche and left her a wreck. The second was the person who put her in the situation she was in right now.

    Tabitha was going to call out Selim Bradley. And she was going to hurt him for this.

    Those were her thoughts before going in to see Kirche and how she was doing. When she entered the infirmary, she stopped. Even her quiet footsteps elicited enough of an echo in this place for Selim to notice her presence. He nodded towards her before looking into the open doorway unblinkingly.

    Tabitha was surprised. Was this monster here to mock her? No… that wasn’t right. If Tabitha knew no better, she’d have said that he was here and genuinely regretting what he did. Yet Joseph left something of a significantly greater than expected impression on her. People who were like him, people who could be so polite then switch to becoming a buffoon. People who could be the fool and then become a terror… she didn’t like those kinds of people.

    Selim was one of them. His actions against Guiche during their duel were enough to convince her that this was a man who enjoyed the suffering of others. He liked playing with them before going in for the kill.

    He reminded her too much of the Mad King for her to consider him innocent in these happenings. But for the moment, he said nothing. He only looked forward with neither a smile nor a frown, but a melancholic look in his eyes – half-lidded as though he were tired.

    She walked to him and saw Louise sitting inside the room on a bench. She was no less awake than her familiar.

    That was good. She would hear what was going to come next. “Selim.” Tabitha said to him. She’d made sure to remember his name. He looked at her. She pointed at Kirche. The normally expressionless girl was quite furious. “Why?” she asked him simply.

    His answer was filled with enough guilt that it almost convinced her he didn’t enjoy it, “I didn’t know.” He said. She gripped her staff harder, glad that Sylpheed wasn’t here to see her. Her knuckles noticeably whitened even against her extremely pale skin. “I’m sorry.” He said.

    She didn’t believe him.

    She only stood and stared at him for a moment before looking at Kirche. She wasn’t dead. She was still breathing. She could wake up. If the healers kept up their treatments, she’d be awake by tomorrow and be back to normal.

    …But she wasn’t normal, was she? She was hurt. She was damaged. She was troubled. And she needed help that most people couldn’t provide or just didn’t know how to.

    Tabitha frowned.

    There was no way she’d get back to reading now.
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    It was noon on the Day of Void.

    The students were either outside performing their own activities or simply entertaining themselves with their new familiars.

    Guiche lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. For once, the fop was thinking.

    What was he doing with his life?

    Only seven days had passed since his defeat at the hands of the now infamous Selim Bradley. But it wasn’t a defeat. It was a one-sided slaughter so absolute it would be an insult to call it anything else. That wasn’t a fair fight. That was a complete massacre.

    He was screwed from the start and he never even knew it.

    Placed on his bed stand was the device Selim made and left to frighten him. The bird on a spring bounced back and forth, he only frowned when he looked at it.

    Selim Bradley was able to, without any effort, defeat all his valkyries. He humiliated him in a display of explosions and hand-to-hand combat, using the tactics of an impressive commoner and a noble to boot. He did all of this without a wand.

    And that interested him quite a bit, actually.

    Guiche was the son of a general. He was a boy who grew up in the shadow of a family of veterans and heroes. He wanted to accomplish something – he wanted to do something with his life. But what could he do?

    In the eyes of his father, a man who already had so many successful sons, he was the extra child. He was the only one who didn’t belong.

    And he didn’t like that.

    So what was Guiche going to do? After being so easily defeated, he began to think about himself. Was he putting his all into his studies? Was he really trying? Or was he allowing himself to be too easily distracted by the exquisite female form? He blushed a little bit…

    “Focus!” he snapped at himself, “Focus! Focus! Focus!” His familiar rubbed itself against him. “Oh, Verdandi! What a cruel world this is!” he cried, “Such a lucky man I am to have such a loving familiar at his side!” he hugged Verdandi, “Such a cute familiar! Such an understanding familiar! Truly you accentuate all that I am as an Earth mage!” he gushed, “Oh, what can I do to be worthy of your kindness?”

    Verdandi’s nose twitched a little.

    “I know I am unworthy of your being! It is too true! A fact of life as it may be!” cried Guiche as he leapt from the bed and fell to his knees, “Through my foolishness and arrogance, what has become of this youngest heir of the de Gramont but many a day and night of withering, bitter woe?!” his fist slammed into an open palm, “For my regrets, a solution must exist! I became as the villain in a story I am better suited as the hero! I disgraced myself and in turn disgraced two beautiful women!”

    Verdandi scratched herself.

    “You have a point! It was three beautiful women, not two. The Zero, no, Louise has a certain charm about her that cannot be denied. I cannot call her ‘Zero’, now, can I? For with as little skill as she, she was still able to successfully summon and bind a familiar. More than that, she summoned a familiar who was able to best me despite his status as a commoner! And how am I so sure he is a commoner, you ask? Why, it is because he fights as one!”

    Verdandi watched the butterflies. Her nose twitched again.

    “The commoners have a rugged efficiency about them that we nobles who, as he claimed, have been so pampered simply lack! He has simply turned the actions of the commoners into an intricate form of art! Genius! How else would he be able to wear so much white without so much as a scratch or speck of dirt upon his person every passing day? Even if he is, in truth, a noble by birth… he was not raised as such and entered into the house of the commoner with the grace of royalty, dare I say it – A man to be admired, indeed!”

    Verdandi blinked.

    “Of course, my dear and sweet and true familiar…! That is what must be done! If Selim Bradley is able to turn the actions of the commoners into a form of art, then why don’t I? It all makes sense, now! I shall take the weapon of the commoner for my own and carve with it a mighty legend akin to the heroes of old! I shall become as the mightiest of knights and with the weapon of the commoner in hand, no evil shall escape my path of holy righteousness and great justice!”

    Somewhere in the distance, a crow started to caw. Verdandi looked up at the noise before looking down in disinterest. Guiche beamed at his familiar, “So understanding…” he marveled, “Will wonders ever cease?”

    So Guiche would go to the capital with his familiar to purchase a sword.
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    It was about five hours later that Kirche awoke to the sight of three worried faces. She didn’t say anything for a while. When she opened her mouth to speak, her throat hurt… She frowned. Tabitha spoke, “Don’t. Nurse says so.”

    She conceded and let it go. Her eyes wandered to her next observer. Louise? Why was she here? “It’s not like I was worried.” She said, “Just… Just don’t do something stupid like that ever again, you hear me?”

    Kirche smiled slightly. Same old Louise… She could act the part of a right bitch as much as she wanted, but deep down, she cared.

    It was the final occupant of the room that surprised her the most, however. “I’d like to apologize for what I said earlier. I had no idea it would have this kind of effect on you.” She stared at Selim Bradley with a slightly open mouth for about a minute before he spoke again. “I can’t say I don’t hate you. Likewise, I can’t say I don’t hate a lot of people. The same goes with love. Kirche… I’m not really sure what to say.” He frowned, “I’m sorry for insulting you… and I’m sorry for going too far. I probably should have stopped myself, but I didn’t.”

    Kirche smiled a bit, “…passion…” she whispered before coughing a little. One does not recover instantly from a damaged windpipe. Tabitha jerked in her seat, alert.

    Selim nodded, “Yes. Passion. I suppose that you’d understand that most, wouldn’t you?”

    She smiled, “…hardly…” her whisper held some amount of mirth. Saying things like this – she sounded just like Tabitha! The idea of it was enough to leave her chuckling. It came out as a series of dry, unattractive coughs instead.

    Selim sighed. “I think I understand you a little more, Kirche. Not nearly to the same extent as a friend or fellow victim, but I think I get it… just a little. You were betrayed by somebody you cared about. So, you try and fill in what he left behind – You try to fill in the gap he left in you with anyone you can. Am I right?”

    She looked down a bit.

    “…but this isn’t the place for that kind of talk, is it?” he asked aloud, “No. No it’s not. You’re still recovering. You woke up earlier than expected. You’ll make a full recovery.”

    “…did you…?”

    “Hmm?”

    “…save me…?”

    “Did I…? Well, I can’t call it that.” Selim said with a frown, “I’m the one who pretty much put you in that position-”

    “Yes.” interrupted Louise, “He saved you. He rushed into that room at a blinding pace, destroyed his gloves, and tore apart that awful thing you tied yourself up in.” she addressed him, “Such modesty is unbecoming, familiar.”

    “Modesty?” he asked, “Sometimes that seems to be one of the things I lack. I can be prideful to the point of damaging others, Louise. Such as here, for example.”

    “But you can be modest enough to stay silent at your accomplishments, even if among them is your redemption for past mistakes.” Louise said sharply, “You saved her life.”

    “After I damned it.”

    “Then nothing happened.” Louise said with a shrug, “If you’re so set on it. You hurt her then you saved her. An even trade.”

    “Like Equivalent Exchange?” He asked.

    “Like Equivalent Exchange.” She confirmed.

    Kirche turned to look at Tabitha, “…like married couple…”

    She smiled a little smile, so small it was almost unseen and unnoticed, and nodded, “Yes.” Came her soft reply.

    Things would never be normal, Tabitha reflected. Not anymore. Things would be different in so many ways because of what the familiar, Selim Bradley, had done. In some ways, perhaps they would be better. Maybe Kirche would improve as a person.

    But, in some ways, could it be worse? Would Kirche only have longer nights without sleep, filled to the brim with broken, loveless passion?

    It would make her ponder for the days to come. The actions taken by Selim put him on her personal list of hated individuals. But, just this once, if Kirche could forgive him… Tabitha would forgive him.

    But if he ever pulled a stunt like this ever again, there wouldn’t be enough left of him to fit in the crevice between her toes.

    “…Tabitha…” Kirche said. She looked at Kirche. “…keeper…”

    “Hmm?”

    “…he’s… a keeper…” and she smiled widely.

    Tabitha sighed deeply. It came out more as a brief exhale. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same. She looked at Selim, the man who reminded her so much of Joseph… and Selim and Louise kept arguing.

    “…Careful,” she said to Kirche. For what else could she say?
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    “Were it not for lack of funds, I am quite certain another blade would be in my hands now. Truly, you are the epitome of all that represents commoners!”

    “Yeah? At least I’m no fop! You going to learn to swing a blade, or are you just going to be too busy playing with your shaft to try?”

    “H-How rude! Unbelievable! It is as though every commoner holds a mouth to make Brimir blush!”

    “You think that would have gotten him? Kiddo, if you knew even half the truth about some of the things he said-”

    “Lalalala! I’m not listening! Lalala!”

    Verdandi blinked.

    “Shut up!” they both shouted.

    Guiche glared at the blade, “Legendary, indeed.” He scoffed. “It’s just a sword. What’s to know about swish-swish-stab?!”

    “How ignorant can you possibly be?”

    So began an awkward partnership.
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    End Chapter 7
     
    ijp92, Krein, Generalissimo and 4 others like this.
  8. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    Love is a funny thing.

    Some people would open by saying it is romantic or beautiful, but what is that really? Unless you experience such things as romance on a personal level, it becomes limited to radio shows, television, and novels. To Selim, love was something that was fickle and unusual.

    He did not understand love. He did not care to understand love.

    Certainly, he loved his mother. Certainly he loved the man he called “papa”. But the love he was thinking of was the love between one person and their significant other. “If in Xing, love is treated so easily as to be given to so many people at once by one man then what is it but another expression of desire?” Of course it came out in words not as large and less mature, but the message remained true.

    Love was not desire, in Selim’s mind. It was more of a moment of truth. It was a moment where your inner self was exposed so nakedly and openly to the world that should any other human being see it then you would have to commit ritual suicide out of shame and embarrassment. Love was that metaphysical nakedness that could be shared between yourself and only one other person.

    To him, that was Lyra.

    To her, he was her cute as a button little brother. He had a strange birthmark on his forehead that nobody liked talking about and he was learning Alchemy on his own. He liked explosions, but what young boy didn’t?

    She loved him. But she did not love him the same way that Selim loved her.

    Selim was a sheltered child. Any expression of love was thusly warped by a lack of exposure to real events. The most he had was the story of how his mother met Mister Bradley, the previous Fuhrer. Her story wasn’t exciting. Her story wasn’t passionate. But she was happy.

    Love was as simple as it was complex. It was like a hard math problem that, once you knew the answer, you could do again and again forever and ever with greater and greater ease. But with love, you only had one chance.

    When he told his sister that he loved her, she took it in stride. She did not know how he meant it. He didn’t understand either. When he told her he loved her a second time, she gave him a hug.

    The third time, he didn’t say anything. When he was ten years old, he kissed his adopted older sister. For a moment, she was stunned. Weren’t there other girls he liked? On so many levels, this was just plain wrong to her. She was his sister.

    She couldn’t think of him on that kind of level! Ever! She told him as such.

    For a while, he was very sad. But, then he said he was over it. She believed him. It was common for children not to understand love and to announce such things. After so much exposure to media, it was only natural that he’d try something so straightforward and blunt.

    She let things go as they were.

    So, with the simple logic that she misread the situation and never said anything about it to either parent, she came to the conclusion that if it was never spoken of again then it never happened.

    But to Selim Bradley, it happened.

    He loved his older sister. And no matter what she said, no matter what anybody else would ever say, he’d always love her.

    Forever.
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 8: Monarch
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    Life goes on without the slightest tremble in the face of earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and explosions. Why would it ever pause for the failed suicide of a damaged girl? Selim Bradley did not muse this to himself. He did not even think it. Though it danced at the corner of his brain, he didn’t approach such thoughts for fear of provoking a darker part of himself that, while normally embraced, was better left buried in a shallow grave to be dug up later.

    …Much later.

    The matters of avoiding making snarky, insulting, cynical, and dark comments was a challenge to put down, however, as Louise just made it so easy… “Good god in heaven, there are so many ways for me to say this to you. Never, not in a million years, absolutely not, not by any means, nix, nyet, negatory, mm-mm, nuh-uh, uh-uh! And, of course my own personal favorite of all time, man falling off of a cliff: NOOOOoooooo………………!”

    She stared at him, “…But-”

    Wait!” Selim interrupted. He closed his eyes and took a moment, as though listening to something… and then, suddenly, “SPLAT!” he threw his open hands out, gesticulating the event.

    Louise jumped a little. Then she asserted herself, “Why not?” she demanded. He gave her a blank stare. “Be serious!”

    “I tried, Louise. I tried so hard to be serious about this. And I failed. And I’m sorry. But, you know, I sort find it challenging to be serious about being paraded around on a stage like a dog to entertain the masses.”

    “It’s a longstanding tradition!” she argued, “Second years are required to participate in the Evaluation Fair!”

    “Either I don’t go on that stage or, I swear, Louise, I will singe the eyebrows off of every single member of the audience just so that they look silly for a few months after – more than suitable payment, I feel.”

    “Y-You can’t do that!”

    “If you can’t come up with a reason other than “Because I said so”, then my answer will be the same.” He looked at Louise, “So, no.”

    She frowned for a moment. She looked away, biting her lower lip. Louise took a breath… and gave him the most teary-eyed look he’d ever seen. She looked like a kicked puppy. She pouted. “P-Please…? Won’t you do this… because I asked you…?”

    Selim hesitated. “Ah…” he blinked, “Ah, well,” he gulped. She was very good at this. “You’re evil.” He mumbled, eye twitching.

    “S-So… So you’ll do it…?”

    It was like a train crash, Selim reflected. He just couldn’t look away. “Ah…” he blinked a few times, “You know what? I’m actually a tad famished.” He turned to walk off. He wasn’t falling for this. There was no way in hell was he falling for-

    “There will be food.”

    He blinked. “What?”

    Louise recognized her odds. If pulling out that ace wouldn’t get him to do this, perhaps doing this would. She’d learned her familiar could be a bit of an ass, at times. But, in the end, he was a bleeding heart. If playing him from a logical standpoint would fail, she’d target him emotionally. And if that failed… she’d go for his stomach.

    “There’s going to be a lot of guests. That means there will be a buffet. A massive buffet. All you can eat, Selim. Doesn’t that interest you?”

    His entire body visibly trembled, “How much… How much food are we talking about, here?”

    “The event takes place in the academy’s largest courtyard. That’s even bigger than the dining hall… about three times bigger, actually. And you can bet that almost every single side is going to be covered in food. Not to mention, there are going to be a lot of guests.”

    Selim licked his lips, “I assume… that the staff gets none of this…?”

    “None!” she answered cheerily, “Normally, the surplus of guests results in all the food just disappearing in a few hours.”

    “I see… When do they start to eat?”

    “At the beginning of the festival, of course,” she answered, “It lasts the whole day. Luckily, we’re one of the first ones up.” She grinned, “If you win, I’ll pull some strings and allow you access to the buffet.”

    Selim’s eyes sparkled.
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    “There was no resisting at that point,” he told Siesta later on, “I get a lot of food whenever I go to the kitchens, but the prospect of having that much…” he drooled a little, “It was too tempting.”

    Siesta giggled, “How gluttonous of you, Selim.”

    “What can I say? I like food. I’m always hungry.” He thought about it for a second, “I think the only time I’ve ever been full was when I…” he blinked and thought again, “Actually, no. No, I haven’t.” he frowned, “I don’t think I’ve ever been full.”

    Siesta looked at him, “I’m envious. You eat so much and then it just seems to disappear… I wish I had that kind of metabolism.”

    Selim laughed, “Most people do. On another note, have you seen Professor Colbert around? I’ve got a few questions from the last two classes that need answering and-”

    “He’s either at his workshop or the library, like always, Selim.” She interjected with a smile.

    He nodded, “Thanks, I appreciate it.” He turned and walked…

    Siesta noticed something, “Oh, he’s going the wrong way! He has an incredible appetite… but the worst sense of direction, I swear…” she sighed. “I’ll find him after I finish my chores.” She decided.

    It was while this was happening that Selim continued his little walk. He stopped. “I… don’t particularly appreciate being followed.” His tone was even. The presence following him made no movements. “…You don’t have to come out if you don’t want to, you know.”

    “K-Kyui-Kyui…!”

    Selim blinked. That sound… He turned, “You are… the dragon…?”

    A voice supplied the answer, “Sylpheed.”

    “Ah, Tabitha. Good to see you in better circumstances. How is Kirche?”

    “Fine.” She replied curtly. She looked at him. Her eyes narrowed a bit.

    “…Is there a problem?” he asked her.

    She continued staring at him for a moment before shaking her head. “No. No problem.” She walked past, “Sylpheed.” She commanded, “Come.”

    “Kyui~!”

    The dragon followed her. Selim watched, “It’s like a duckling…” he murmured, “Perhaps in the dragon’s infantile state, it imprinted on her. Or was it maybe the work of the familiar runes to make it easier to control? More notes, I suppose.” Questions upon questions, he mused as he took out a small notepad. “Hrm, I’m running out of paper. This magic stuff is draining all I have… and the ink in my pen is almost gone… I’ll have to transmute a new notepad out of some raw material when I get the chance.”

    He continued walking.
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    “I am very grateful for the Academy’s understanding and cooperation.”

    “Ah, but when one receives an order from the palace, there can be no room for such concerns as that.”

    Count Mott was a cleanly dressed man in red. His brown hair was cut short and smoothed evenly. His eyebrows and mustache held a sort of spiraled twirl to them.

    “Ah,” he noticed the Osmond’s secretary, “How about dinner some time, Miss Longueville?”

    He was most well known for being a pervert.

    She was quick to cover herself and politely declined. Mott shrugged and let it be. There were many other fish in the sea. So he continued at his pace.

    “What was the warning for?” she asked Osmond.

    “Oh,” Old Osmond looked up, “It was a warning from the palace about thieves.”

    “Thieves?”

    “Some fellow named Fouquet has been causing quite a stir.”

    “Ah! I’ve heard of him. He is called the ‘Crumbling Earth’.”

    “He is also known as ‘Fouquet the Sculptor’. Our academy holds within it a powerful magical artifact, the Staff of Destruction…”

    “Staff of Destruction, huh? It sounds ominous.”
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    “…the Laws of Equivalent Exchange would prevent such things from naturally occurring where I come from, Professor.” Selim informed Colbert, “Alchemists such as me need existing material to transmute in order to have any results.”

    “As a spell, Transmutation is much the same. However we hold certain limitations that you, apparently, do not. You, apparently, can construct large amounts of gold so long as you have an equal amount of some other material such as iron.”

    “They’re both metals. They’re both solids at room temperature. It’d work better with a metal more similar or more closely related to gold such as silver or platinum. If it’s in the same Group or Period and shares enough properties at room temperature, then it could be transmuted more easily. Other metals that are further away from gold would require alternate and varying Transmutation circles in order to operate properly.”

    “That reminds me, earlier you were able to transmute without a circle…?”

    “You haven’t seen them, yet, have you?” Selim asked. He took off his gloves and motioned for Colbert to take a look, “These marks on my palms are what I used for the Transmutation.”

    “…Your fingers are prosthetic.”

    “They are. But I thought we were talking about-”

    “Your fingers… are an advanced prosthetic…”

    “…Yes?”

    “Amazing!”

    “But what about ma-”

    “So many individuals have been crippled by conflicts for years… the benefits this would yield could only be significant and substantial! I can hardly begin to imagine…!”

    Selim sighed, “I’ll… I’ll just be over there.”

    “Oh, but I insist you stay! I’ll need to remove those fingers for study, of course.”

    “…what.” Selim’s voice was weak. He knew that kind of tone. He’d heard it before. “I’m… I don’t follow.”

    “I’m sure it won’t hurt!”

    “…yeah…” Selim trailed, “I’ll… I’ll see you later, Professor.” And as calmly as he could manage, he ran out of the lab.

    “Oomph!”

    Or, at least, he tried to.

    He took a step back and observed the girl on the ground in front of him, “Siesta?” He helped her up, “What are you doing here?”

    “I…” she bowed to him, “I’d like to thank you very much.”

    “…Thank me?”

    “No matter what happens, you don’t surrender or quit. You have a will and a way all your own and, though you are technically a peasant, you stand up against nobility. Selim, seeing you like that has given me courage. Because of you, I can continue to do my best.”

    Selim frowned. This was… unusual. “Well, thank you and all.”

    “Good night.”

    “Um, right… Good night.” He watched her leave, “That… was a bit off.”

    Colbert nodded, “Indeed. I could tell from looking at her that she was putting her heart into that speech.”

    “Why would she? We’ve known each other for, what, a few weeks? I’ve been known to inspire, but this is a bit much…” he frowned, “It sounded like… she was saying goodbye? Does that make sense to you?”

    Colbert sighed, “I can hardly pretend to know what that would sound like. I don’t think I have ever really had someone speak to me like that. Your guess is as good as mine; I suppose…” he pulled something out of a drawer, “But this line of discussion is a little too dark for my tastes. Back to those fingers…?”

    Selim dashed out, “Gotta go!”

    Selim ran out, this time uninterrupted. Colbert watched him go. The wind blew. He felt chills. His eyes narrowed, “Be careful, Selim.”
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    The next morning began as always. To his surprise, Kirche attended class.

    Actually, no, he wasn’t surprised. Considering everything in this land, it was entirely possible that she would be back in very quickly. No psychiatrists… he sighed. Well, there went his day. Maybe he could do something to cheer himself up…?

    “Hey, Louise, I missed breakfast.” Louise looked at him, “I’m going to the kitchen.” He said, “Would you like to come with? I could probably get you a free meal?”

    “More like scraps of food, familiar. I have seen the remains of what you eat. There are bite marks in the tables. If I went with you to share a breakfast, I’d be starved of a meal! And besides, the Evaluation Fair is in two days! Shouldn’t you be planning something?”

    “I can’t think with an empty stomach.”

    “Your stomach is always empty!”

    “Perhaps,” he smirked, “But, who knows. Maybe this will be the day I’m full.”

    “…You’re going there to meet your maid friend.”

    “Her name is Siesta and…” he grinned, “Perhaps. You’ll have to come with me to find out, won’t you?”
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    “Our Scholar! Good to see you, again! And you brought a guest!”

    “She really isn’t supposed to be here. She’s playing hooky.” Selim replied with a laugh.

    “Skipping class by going to the kitchen, eh?” the head chef asked, “Well, you could use the extra meat on your bones!”

    Louise was ready to draw her wand. ‘Destroy…! Maim…! Still growing…! Perfectly proportioned…!

    “So, what’s on the menu today?” Selim asked.

    Louise looked at him, “Mooching off of him, are you?”

    “More like capitalizing on a favor. Besides, as an alchemist, chemistry is right up there for us. And through chemistry, you’d be surprised at the number of alchemists who bake in their spare time! While I’m here, I exchange recipes!”

    “…You’re serious.” Louise stated more than asked. She sighed, “I honestly have nothing to say to that.”

    Selim dug into an egg with vigor, “By the way,” he said between mouthfuls, “Where’s Siesta? I haven’t seen her around, recently. I was thinking that she’d be here…”

    “You mean she didn’t tell you?” Marteau asked him.

    “…Tell me what?”

    “She was approached by a man named Mott yesterday. He bought her contract from the academy and she’s been sent to work for him. It was very sudden. She was just picked up and taken away in a carriage early this morning.”

    “…And she didn’t do anything?” Selim asked, “She’s got a pretty good deal here.”

    Louise interjected, “But working for Mott would give her a much better pay.”

    “Not necessarily,” Marteau stated in return, “Only the ones who are very experienced at their trade. I’ve been doing this for most of my life. So of course I would be paid well. But, in general, peasants can’t just go out looking for well-paying work and find it. We can do nothing but obey the nobles. Now, work…” he walked through the kitchen, “Back to work.”

    Louise looked at Selim, “I don’t see what you’re so perturbed about. She still has a job. She’s still doing work. She’s still getting paid.”

    “…Something about this feels off.” Selim said to her, “And I’d like to know a little more about it. Who is this Mott fellow?”

    “I can think of three off the top of my head,” Louise answered, “Of them, the only Mott that came to the academy was Count Mott from the palace.”

    “Do you… know anything about him?”

    “He’s a messenger who comes by occasionally. I don’t like him because he acts so cocky all the time.”

    “He sounds like he’s loaded.” Selim noted, “Hell, he sounds like he’d have dozens of servants. Why’d he want Siesta?”

    “When a nobleman requests a young girl by name…” Louise frowned a bit, “It usually is an order for her to become his mistress.”

    Dead silence.

    “…I’m sorry, Louise. But, what?

    “I’ve heard a lot of stories about it… Nobles come in all sorts.”

    “…I see.”

    “…Selim? Don’t do anything stupid, alright? Count Mott is a triangle-class Water Mage. He’d kill you.”

    “…Right. Kill.”

    She glared at him. “Selim. No.”

    “And why not?”

    “She is a servant of the house of Mott. I’m not going to let you get yourself killed over a lawful contract that you can’t do anything about!”

    Selim looked at Louise for a moment. “See, Louise, this is the part where I’m supposed to come up with a dazzling speech in order to entice you into following me into the jaws of death. This is the part where I’m supposed to convince you that following me to this place isn’t a good idea, but that it’s the best course of action in the series of events to construct a magnificent legend about you. But I’m not going to do that. I’m not the type to even try that. I’m not a hero who makes speeches. I’m a guy who wants to save a girl from having her pride taken away from her. And if you’re going to try to stop me, you’re welcome to it so long as you hold no illusions of your success. If you wish to join me on this quest, all the better! But if you wish to do neither of those, then butt out and shut the fuck up.” He put his napkin down, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go choke a bitch.”
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    End Chapter 8
     
    ijp92, Krein, W00KY and 8 others like this.
  9. Tabi

    Tabi Over a thousand stories, yet unfinished.

    Selim be goin' ta choke a bitch.
     
  10. chaosmagez

    chaosmagez Some Guy

    When is the next Bitch Choking session?
     
  11. EmptyHollow

    EmptyHollow Wish I was Dead

    I haven't been on FF.net for a few days so I might sound kinda stupid for asking this.
    What is the stupid ban that is stopping you from posting this magnificent story up?
     
  12. ThatJerk

    ThatJerk Red Shoulder

    Statement: Bravo, bravo! It's rare for me that I give a story my Seal of Absolute Badassery (TM). I literally have no complaints other than GIMMIE MOAR.

    You have everything I can possibly think of as a writer covered: characterizations I give a flying hoot about, logical character development, making sure not to miss any good characterization opportunity, fantastic action, wit, humor, getting to the point and not letting a scene drag on, agile and solid narration that does not look cheap / read like a script or screenplay but is not so top heavy that it becomes a bloody essay, avoiding verbosity / purple prose unless it serves a purpose and is rightly entertaining, etc.

    I could go on, but that'd be defeating the purpose of my support here.

    Praise the Omnissiah! And cheers.
     
  13. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    The short version is that the mods on the site are going around banning authors and deleting stories that violate the content rules they posted years ago but never got around to enforcing. Naturally, this has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

    I haven't seen any of the stories I follow get the boot, so I'm really not sure why people are so upset about it, but it's happening I guess.
     
  14. Damar

    Damar Nothing's Personal? Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    From the title, I assumed the person in question would be Kimbley...now that would've been funny.
     
    Reece likes this.
  15. Reece

    Reece DALEK REECE

    MOAR, DALEK REECE DEMANDS MOAR.
     
  16. lazarusdrake

    lazarusdrake Inherent Void

    ...you'd be only half right:D
     
  17. Magnificent. Seems like Selim still has the properties of Greed in him. Selim bringing the enlightenment of science and the philosophy of questioning theology will be something fantastic, the revolution it will cause to the current social structure will be something marvelous to behold.
     
  18. caezlinnorm

    caezlinnorm Poked by Dice Gods

    Beautiful, I'd mostly given up on anything FMA due to the glut of truly bad fiction. But this has given me new hope and I shall follow it intently.
     
  19. scriviner

    scriviner Bueno Excellente

    Very nice. Looking forward to more. :D
     
  20. Ars Poetica

    Ars Poetica Judaic-Buddhist... WITH FLAMING SWORD AND SHIELD~!

    The meeting between the leaders of Amestris and Creta was meant to be a symbol of peace, to show intent to end hostilities and destroy the Black Hand. To show this, Grumman appeared with his wife, the former Mrs. Bradley, and his two children. Selim and Lyra observed the proceedings with disinterest.

    Then the Cretan representative arrived.

    He was a man who appeared almost entirely average. He was a little taller than what one would call normal. His skin was a little paler than what one would call normal. His hair was black. His face was unremarkable except for a nose that had appeared broken at least once. He wore sunglasses that made it impossible to see his eyes; the lenses reflected everything like a one-way mirror.

    The man showed up with an entourage of body guards. Three stood out, in particular. One was carrying a black suitcase in his left hand. A woman, Ishbalan, carried a black suitcase in her left hand. The third was a giant of a man who carried two suitcases. In his right hand was a black suitcase. In his left hand was a red suitcase.

    Selim paused at this and wondered, briefly, how easy it would be for this man to just kill papa. How easy would it be for him to whip out a knife or a gun? He had enough men and women with him to do it!

    Selim decided that he did not like this man.

    “I give you greetings from Creta,” he gave a slight bow of his head an swept his arm beneath his body in a dramatic gesture, “We wish to impart and, perhaps, exchange words, yes?”

    “…Indeed,” Grumman stared at this man, “But may I ask why you have so many guards?”

    “Too intimidating? Oh, don’t worry yourself over this. If it was Creta’s goal to kill you, we’d have done it by now.” He tsk’d, “The Black Hand is a dangerous threat that has played our countries against each other. It must be dissolved and its members must be found and tried for what they’ve done. Having employed this “Magic Bullet” has everyone in a tizzy.”

    “I’d imagine so. The man is accomplished and impossible to find. But, from my understanding, you are not the leader of your country. You are…?”

    “Ah, yes,” he said, “My apologies. Our country is a Republican Monarchy. We operate on a system of nobility and elected officials through a select group of impartial representatives. I am the Prime Minister and next in line for the throne. I am Lord Karl Harvey-Lee Booth CLVII of Creta.”

    “And the king could not attend because…?”

    “Your information is that slow?” he inquired with a thin smile. The three guards behind him parted and a non-descript soldier stepped up holding a miniature television. He propped open a series of extending legs on a stand beneath the box and set it up in front of them all. “We’re in for a show, then, aren’t we?”

    Grumman frowned. This man…

    The television turned on. There lay the king of Creta… in a hospital bed. The heart monitor was beeping slowly. “We caught him just in time, too.” remarked Karl, “He seems to be on his last legs. Daddy never was one for, well, lasting in the face of resistance. His heart couldn’t take it.”

    A final, long beep was soon followed by the man’s chest ceasing motion. Grumman watched as the leader of Creta died… and his son smiling all the while. “And with that,” said Booth, “I am King Karl Harvey-Lee Booth CLVII of Creta. I am the leader of the Confederate Republic of Creta, the Cretan nobility and monarchy bow to me, and I am head of all military operations. I am, without question, the most powerful man in Creta.” The television was turned off, “Now let us talk, ye Grumman: Fuhrer of Amestris.” And Karl gave his widest grin.
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    -little big bang-
    A Zero no Tsukaima / Fullmetal Alchemist Crossover
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    Chapter 9: Canis
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    It was an innocent hobby. Count Mott collected books. He enjoyed reading.

    And it was during an excursion to Germania that he found a very unique book. It was a fairy tale about a girl and a dog. It was charming and cute, but he did not see the necessity of it lasting for so many pages. A captivating, fictional story about such a mundane topic that lasted six hundred pages… normally, trying to read that would drive the sanest man mad.

    Still, he read the book cover to cover.

    Something about the book bothered him. He read it again and noticed something. He read it a third time and noticed something else. A story about a little girl and her dog was not captivating at all. The book’s plot was bland. But it was so long, and Mott was so determined, that he had to read it all the way through until he fully understood what he was reading.

    He enjoyed reading. It only made sense that this enjoyment allowed him access to large amounts of information. He’d read many stories. He’d read many books. Some were sacrilegious, but he read them anyway. Knowledge was something that was meant to be viewed.

    As one of higher birth, was he not more privileged than anyone to read these books?

    As a noble, of course he had every right!

    So he read. Then he examined. Then he researched. Slowly, a puzzle formed. The book showed something to him. He nodded, it made sense. But he’d have to try it to be sure. That’s how it worked, right?

    His first Servant was a young girl from a village whose name he never caught. She was cute, but not quite his type. He felt she could be better.

    A cat was purchased and brought into the estate.

    When a light that had never been seen before shone, the next morning a wall was constructed. The girl and the cat were never seen again.

    Mott saw the results. It was all true. It all made sense.

    Knowledge allowed him access to a level of pleasure never accessible before! The things he could accomplish with this…! It was amazing!

    The next girl was from Bezonvaux, a small village notable for apples. She was blonde and very beautiful. Mott felt that she could be improved significantly, however. He’d seen the light with his book.

    A little girl and her dog…

    One of his soldiers went out and brought back a puppy from a kennel.

    Two weeks later, the girl disappeared. The puppy vanished with her. Neither was seen nor were they heard from again.

    Events continued to play out like this.

    Then Selim Bradley came.
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    It was night when he arrived at the estate. Louise stood with him. She wanted to tell him that it was foolish. She wanted to say that what he was doing was dangerous. But saying anything would be redundant, at this point. It was clear to her that Selim intended to carry through with acting against Count Mott and saving Siesta.

    There was no gate. There were only very tall walls and a single entrance with no barrier. Anyone could go in or out. Nobody wanted to go in or out, however. Selim frowned.

    Since this place entered his line of sight, Selim had heard nothing. There were no crickets, there were no owls. There was no rustling of leaves to signify nightly predators. Where, he wondered, were all the animals?

    He heard growling. Louise stepped back, paralyzed. She couldn’t move a muscle. “Huh,” he said aloud, “That’s interesting. Say, Louise, is it normal for dogs to have demonic wings like that?” she said nothing, “No? Well, from the looks of it, that’s a very good Transmutation. Chimera, then? But they’ve been bred. I’d put them at third generation, then.” He nodded, “That’s about right. The style’s unfamiliar to me…”

    One of the guards ordered a dog to attack. Selim responded by clapping his hands and palming the dog’s neck. It exploded a moment later. “Ah, how strange. The transmutation is mostly Amestrian.” Selim frowned.

    The second dog attacked him. He responded by kicking it in the mouth. Before it could get back up, he stamped on its neck. It died instantly.

    The two guards readied their spears. Selim looked at them, “You two just saw me blow up a low-grade, third generation chimera before breaking the neck of another with abilities that you are mostly unfamiliar with and you’re going to raise your spears at me?”

    The guards exchanged a look.

    “You were sleeping.” Selim supplied, “Two towns away from here. And you survived because of it. Isn’t that right?” They said nothing. “I said,” Selim smiled, “Isn’t that right?” They nodded and ran.

    Selim kept up his smile for a moment before turning around and clapping his hands. He touched the door… and blew it off of its hinges entirely. Almost immediately upon entering the house, Selim was overwhelmed with the scent of metal. “I thought you said he was a Water mage, Louise.”

    Louise frowned. She didn’t smell what he smelled. “He is.”

    “Then why does this place smell so positively off?” he sniffed again, “It almost smells like iron, but some of the consistency is a little wrong. Actually, it almost smells like Kirche’s room.” His smile faded, “I don’t like this.”

    “If you don’t like this, then why don’t you turn around and go back?!”

    “To quote myself: I just blew up a low-grade, third generation chimera before breaking the neck of another with abilities that you are mostly unfamiliar with. Considering we’ve now torn into the bad guy’s fortress and it smells very wrong to me, it’s a little late to turn around and run with our tails between our legs.” They kept walking. “His choice of red is very delightful, though.”

    “Familiar, shut up.”
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    Mott’s interest reached a head and his fancies increased accordingly. The guards learned never to question the lights. The guards learned never to ask of the noises and shouts of things that were not man and stayed silent. But they grew disloyal. They did not want to stay in a house of screams and vanishings.

    The Count may spirit them away, should they speak. So they stayed silent and stayed away. Every night, they stayed outside the estate. They never went in.

    Because anybody invited in by the Count never came back out.

    An owl was ordered one morning. A maid entered. The light that shone too bright signified a vanishing. The guards never entered. The maid never left. And the process continued.

    And the screams continued.
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    “Miss,” called Mott from his room, “I wish to see you in my room.”

    Siesta spoke, “I’m coming.”

    She felt tears at the corners of her eyes. It would be too late, she knew. There was no way out.

    The life of a commoner was to serve the nobility for if she did not, she would certainly die.

    She didn’t want to die.

    This was a small sacrifice. She would give her innocence for her life. The choice was simple.

    Siesta just hoped it wouldn’t hurt.
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    A turn left. A turn right. Another turn left. Selim looked around, “I can’t smell her.”

    “You can smell her?” Louise asked.

    “Normally, I can smell anyone. She must have washed, recently.” He bit his lip, “Well, when in doubt…” he made another turn.

    “Where are you going, familiar?”

    “I’m following that stench from earlier. I’m not going to like what I find, but if I’m going to find Siesta… she’s probably at the source of it.”

    Louise frowned, “Such an odd familiar. He smells something disgusting and decides to walk towards it. Of course he does.”

    “Are you going to follow me or are you just going to stand there and complain!” he shouted back. His voice echoed throughout the red and gold corridor.

    “I’m coming!” she shouted back. Selim nodded and continued. “Stupid dog…” she grumbled before kicking a suit of armor on display.
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    “You… wanted to see me… Count?” Siesta’s voice spoke deeply of her nervousness. She was terrified. She didn’t want to be here. The Count smiled a little.

    “I did.” He said to her.

    “W-What would you like me to do.”

    “Oh,” he said, “This and that.”

    There was a winged dog in a cage on one side of the room. It was completely silent. “Oh, don’t mind her.” He said when Siesta worriedly looked at it with wide eyes, “I wouldn’t let her do anything to you. That would be rather counterproductive.”

    “C-Counterproductive?”

    “Oh, you don’t really think that I just called you here for a spot of pleasure, did you?” She took a step back. He stepped forward and grabbed her. She gasped… a cloth was placed over her mouth. “I hear the rebels in Albion are using this more and more frequently to quietly deal with their enemies or take hostages.” He looked down, “Ah, I’m just rambling to myself. You can’t hear a word.”

    Count Mott walked towards the cage, “Now… Let’s see what kind of fun we’ll have tonight.” He unlocked it.
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    The entire estate was empty. Except for those two guards outside, Selim hadn’t seen a single person. The smell grew stronger with every stride. He placed his hand on a door.

    “…It’s here.” He took a step back.

    Louise looked, “So, what now? You’ll use alchemy on the door, or something?”

    Selim shook his head. “Nah, all the alchemy I did outside was rather quiet. I’m trying to go unnoticed for as long as possible.” He flashed Louise a smile, “It’s the punches you never see that hurt the most.”

    “Well,” she looked at the iron door. “What are you going to-?”

    Selim lifted his foot and kicked the door down, “Too many questions.”

    Louise gaped for a moment, “You… You just…!” Selim kept walking. “Familiar!”

    He stopped. His eyes narrowed. “…It’s black as pitch in here. I can’t see a damn thing.” He looked at Louise, “Hey, do you have a lighter?” she looked at him. “…Never mind.” His eyes narrowed again.

    Then he heard it.

    “Pwaaaaaahh…”

    He blinked. That noise… That sound. What was that…?

    “Pwaaaa… pwaaaaaa…!”

    Again? “Selim…?” Louise spoke, “Did you hear that?”

    “Pwaaa-pwaaa… paaaahhh… paaaahhh…”

    He inhaled for a moment. The smell…! That noise… There was a loud, wet smack.

    “…Louise… we’re leaving.” He said to her.

    “What?”

    “Paahh! Paa…! PA! PA! PA-PA! PA-PA! PA-PA!”

    Selim’s eyes adjusted. They widened. “No…

    “Who’s screaming?!” Louise shouted. Where there was once a single voice, dozens had joined now. The wet smacking sounds grew louder and the cries grew in volume. There were so many…

    Louise still couldn’t see. The light from the door leaked in, tracing a line of blackened shadow and the shining of the corridor. Louise never saw more than a hand with too many fingers reach out of the blackness and claw at the stone before she was pushed out. Selim backed out of the room and took breaths.

    “I’m going to find him.” Selim said quietly. His voice almost lost in the cacophony of mad yelling of the things that may have once been human, still Louise heard it for its monotonous fury and disgust, “I’m going to find him. And then he’s going to pay.” His head turned left at the sound of a strange ringing… There was a flash of light around the next corner. He felt chills.

    He started to run. “Selim!” Louise shouted. She ran after him.
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    It was his most beautiful work.

    There were tales of old, speaking of mighty creatures beyond the Holy Land. It spoke of these beings as gods. “And I have made one!” he said aloud, “My perfect work…! And you’re so beautiful!” he cackled, “It was all right! It was right all along! I’ve done what could never be accomplished! Look upon me, Brimir! Look and see what your child has done!”

    The door to his room exploded off its hinges and right out the window. Through the dust and smoke, a figure in white became visible as he walked briskly. Each step spoke of a greater purpose. Mott was dissatisfied. “Who are you to enter my room without invitation?” he asked, “No matter. Guards!”

    A hand clasped around his throat. It was so cold… “Your guards left, Mister Mott. They left a while ago.”

    “S-Siesta…?” the girl with this man in white asked. Her pink hair fluttered a little, but she shook her head and looked around. “Siesta – oh…! Oh, Brimir…” she looked at Mott’s work, “Siesta!”

    “I’ve done it, I’ve done it!” Mott laughed and cackled, though the man in white held him higher, “Look at her! She’s beautiful! My finest work!”

    The man in white threw him to the ground. Mott went to grab for his staff, Selim stopped him by grabbing it first. A circle in his left hand lit up so brightly… “Wait…” murmured Mott, “That glow… How odd…”

    His staff was burnt to ash and collapsed. “It’s familiar, isn’t it?” the man in white said to him, “That is the glow of an Amestrian, alchemic transmutation.” He looked at Mott, “Something you have been perverting, Mister Mott.” He growled, “I don’t like that.”

    “Oh?” Mott stood, “But surely you can appreciate my work?”

    The man in white was silent for a moment. He turned and looked at the girl with pink hair, “Louise,” he said, “Take Siesta out of here. I’ll follow you.”

    “Hoh? Her name is Louise?” Mott mused, “I’ve never used a noble before… I wonder how she would react if I-” he never finished that sentence. The man in white punched him in the gut.

    “Now, Louise.” The two words reminded Mott of a funeral bell.

    “Hey,” Louise said to Siesta as the man in white looked at Mott, “Can you stand?” her voice was soft, gentle.

    They left the room. And Mott realized something. He had no leverage. He had no tools. He had no weapons. He could not defend himself. “My work…” he wheezed, “Who will speak of my work if I perish here?!”

    The man’s eyes seemed to light up with a new fury. “Sit down.” He growled to Mott. Mott looked at him. “Sit down. In your chair. Sit.”

    Mott carefully stood and walked to his seat. He sat down. The man stood and watched him the entire time. “Now, I’m only going to say this once. I am not going to kill you.”

    Mott blinked. “What?”

    The man frowned, “Hmm? You couldn’t hear me? Was I not speaking loudly enough? Or, perhaps, are you hard of hearing? I know there is nothing wrong with my voice, I’m no mute. So it must be a fault of your own, you deaf mutt.”

    “My name is Count Mott of the Royal-”

    The man in white took two strides forward and punched him in the face, “Your name…” he growled, “Is Mutt, until further notice. You are the Count of nothing. You are nobody’s messenger. I am the acting messenger of justice and you are going to listen to me. I am your judge. I am your jury. My name is Selim Bradley, and you have hurt somebody I care about. You have perverted a science and form of art in ways I have rarely seen. And I do not approve. Can you hear me, Mutt?”

    Count Mott took a few seconds to formulate a response. Selim punched him in the chest and slammed his head on the desk twice, “I asked you… CAN YOU HEAR ME, MUTT?!”

    “I… I can hear you…!” he coughed, “I can hear you…!”

    Selim released his head. “That’s good. I just wanted to make sure.” He looked around the room, “You have a lot of books, Mutt.” He noted, “A lot of books.” He stopped at a single book in a glass case. The case had been removed. The book was open. “Alexander the Ninth’s Tale: A Girl and Her Dog.” He read aloud, “…This book has to be at least twenty years old. So, it’s the original copy. We always wondered where this went. All we knew was that it was reprinted in foreign countries and just disappeared.”

    Mott was staring at him. “Then… then you know the secrets of this book…?”

    Selim looked at him and put the book in his jacket pocket. “I know exactly what needs to be known about this book, Mutt.” He grabbed Mott and pulled him from his seat. “Walk with me.” Mott looked at the window, “Try escaping, and I’ll explode your legs.” Mott stopped looking at the window. He walked with Selim out of the room.

    “Now, you’re a fan of stories… Right, Mutt?” Mott didn’t answer. Selim grabbed his wrist and twisted, “I asked you a question, Mutt. You respond to questions.”

    “I… I like stories…!”

    Selim let go of his wrist. “That’s good. That’s really good. Now, I have a story for you. Would you like to hear it?” Mott hesitated to respond. Selim looked at him.

    “I would like to hear your story.”

    “I didn’t quite catch that, Mutt. Call me ‘sir’.”

    “…I would like to hear your story, sir.”

    Selim paused, “…Too formal. Just call me Selim, Mutt. We’re on a first name basis, aren’t we?”

    “S-Sure…! A first name basis…!”

    Selim nodded, “So…”

    “I would like to hear your story, Selim.”

    “And with such enthusiasm in your voice, Mutt…! I suppose there’s no other recourse but to tell you. Well, once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man. He had a lot of power. He liked knowledge. He was a bit arrogant, but it wasn’t too bad. He was mildly decent, if slightly intolerable. But he didn’t quite abuse his power. One day, he found something. As a collector of knowledge, he couldn’t just leave such an extensive text lying there without anybody to care for it or read it. And upon reading it, he found that some things about it felt a little… off. So he read deeper into it.” He looked at Mott, “Does this sound familiar?”

    Mott said nothing.

    “So, the man read into the book and discovered that it was actually speaking of techniques and theories. It spoke of things that weren’t too unusual, if you’d read enough. And the man decided to try one of them. But he couldn’t use himself because that would be dangerous. He used somebody else. And then another somebody… and another… and another… knowledge gave in to perversion, and he decided to mix lust with information. He came up with something new and special.”

    They rounded a corner.

    “But all of the experiments weren’t what he wanted. So he locked them up. He put their drugged, warped bodies somewhere else where they could further and further devolve as animals. He would occasionally study them, but the light became a privilege. And it wasn’t until much later that he perfected the process. One day, he saw a maid at an academy he frequented. He decided she was pretty. She would be his perfect work. He took her to his home and did as he’d always done. With Water magic helping the process along, of course it would run perfectly. It was a beautiful work, in his eyes.”

    They stopped in front of an opening. Mott paled. “N-No… please… don’t do this…!”

    Selim looked at him. “But you’ll miss the best part of the story, Mutt. See, somebody decided enough was enough and chose to make the man serve justice.” He pulled the book out. Mott noticed his right hand had a tattoo of a sun on its palm in the center of a strange circle. There was a flash of blue light and the book lit itself aflame. Selim threw the book into the darkness… and it all lit up spectacularly. Dozens of eyes looked out through the opening at Mott.

    They were angry eyes.

    “So that somebody took the man and let him serve time amongst those he’d wronged!” Selim’s voice was very cheerful. He threw Mott into the dark room. “The rest of the story, well I’m not quite sure about it.” The girls surrounded Mott, “I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.” Selim turned and lifted his hat. “Good bye.” He stopped for a moment, “Oh, and before I forget, red is a color that suits you quite well, Mutt.”

    Selim walked away.

    And Mott began to scream.
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    End Chapter 9
     
  21. AzureGrimoire

    AzureGrimoire A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd

    Okay... what happened to Siesta... did she became a Chimera?!!
     
  22. I suppose this being FMA crossover, a strange book plus Mott with his crazy experiments should've clued me in earlier. Disturbing, quite disturbing when I realized what's it about. Quite a different take on Mott and his usual antics.
    And the above question, too.
     
  23. SmallTips

    SmallTips Ally of convenience

    Can't have an FMA story without at least one Chimera atrocity, can we?
     
  24. djibriel

    djibriel Evil Overlord

    ._______. What will happen to the other chimeras after this?
     
  25. AzureGrimoire

    AzureGrimoire A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd

    But... it's Siesta! >If she got raped, it's okay with me. /me has now a fetish on reading rape doujins since I need it to construct AU Halkeginia in Memories of the Two Moons.< But her turning into a chimera?

    Nope.
     
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