Friday! It was Friday, it was fall, and it was finally the perfect weather for one of her favorite fall activities. Two best friends, camping in the backyard, and staying up all night talking under the stars.
Alison Rigby was by most standards, an average teenager. It was 2005 and she'd just turned 16, and finally able to drive a car on her own. She was a little on the short side, just barely passing 5 foot. She was fit, having been athletic from a young age. She had long brown hair, brown eyes, and naturally lightly tanned skin. She came from an average family. She lived with both of her parents and older brother. She lived in a small town in the southern U.S.
Alison threw her WWII army bag in her trunk. It'd been given to her by her maternal grandfather. She'd loaded it up with everything she'd need for the night; a blanket to lay out of the grass on, sleeping bag, spare clothes, her digital camera, mp3 player, a portable speaker, cell phone, earbuds, their respective chargers, and a few hygiene items. Often times the two friends would run an extension cord to their tent and watch movies on a laptop or play some music. Usually they'd just end up talking all night under the stars.
Her friend, Amber, had been her friend for years; the two were practically inseparable. An adorable red head with a fiery and bold personality. She was always there when Alison needed a friend to talk to, or when she just needed someone to tell her the truth, even if she didn't want to hear it. Their "camping trips" were a favorite past time, and occasionally Amber's mother would pick up some sweet wine, and occasionally some harder liquor, as long as they stayed in the back yard and didn't get crazy.
Alison drove down the backroads to Amber's house, maybe a little too fast. She tended to drive a little faster than what was recommended. She was blaring her music about as loud as her ears and car speakers could handle, singing along as loud as she could.
While traveling down one of the less travelled back roads, her rear left tire blew.
"Shit!" She shouted and brought the car under control and to the side of the road.
After turning the music down she got out of her car to inspect the tire. She guessed she must've hit a sharp piece of metal or something that blended into the rest of the gravel on the road.
"Dammit…" She muttered.
She popped the trunk and threw her bag over her shoulder, the strap across her chest. She didn't want to sit it in ant hill or on the dirt. After getting the bag out of the way she went for the spare under the trunk floor.
In the next few moments, she experienced some of the worst pain she had ever felt in her life. It felt like razors dipped in lemon juice sliced into her skin. She let out a howl of pain and reached to touch her back. Had a colony of bullet ants found their way into her bag? What could be causing this horrific pain? Her entire body began to feel like it was covered in acid and like her innards were on fire. She fell to her knees, clutching to the bumper of the car. She couldn't even register the pain of her head hitting gravel as her body collapsed on the road. She struggled to stay conscious despite the pain while her body convulsed on the gravel road. The road that anyone hardly drove down. How long before someone would find her? Was she going to die? These thoughts buzzed loudly in her head before fading out with her vision as she lost the fight to stay conscious.
"Hey…are you okay? Hey…wake up."
Alison heard a voice through the haze. She fought to pull herself out of the fog. With much effort she opened her eyes and made them focus. Above her she saw a forest canopy with a clear blue sky peering through.
"You okay?" The voice said again, in her left ear.
Her eyes darted toward the voice and saw a blonde young man crouched over her. She jerked back as fast as she could and scrambled to her feet. She felt like she'd been hit by a truck, but she tried her best to ignore it. She scrambled to put distance between her and the stranger and looked at her surroundings. She was in the middle of a forest…not the road she last found herself on.
"Who are you? What did you do to me, you pervert?!" She yelled at the man.
"Hey, who are you calling a pervert?!" He yelled back. He was a young man, possibly the same age as her own, with long blond hair in a braid, wearing black pants, shirt, and a long red coat. If she wasn't so panicked, she would have even called him handsome.
"Did you find me on the road and drag me to the woods?!"
"Hey, look…" He said and took a step closer.
"Don't come any closer!" She looked around quickly and grabbed a large, thick stick near her feet. She held it like a baseball bat and stood defensively. The blond stopped, took a step back, and put his hands up.
"I'm not going to hurt you." He said calmly.
She stared him down hard for a solid ten seconds, listening to her surroundings and weighing her options. She suddenly dropped the stick and booked it as fast as she could through the woods. She clung to her bag which she hadn't quite registered was still on her back, as she ran towards what she believed may be town if she'd heard right. Then again, sounds could have echoed and she was going deeper into the woods.
She wasn't quite sure where in her small town she was. The buildings she saw didn't look familiar as she approached them from behind. She ran through an alley and came to a road. She looked around and began to panic more. This was not her home town. This wasn't even any of the surrounding towns. She had no idea where she was. She staggered back against a brick wall and tried to breathe. After a few moments she started walking down the sidewalk. It would probably be best to keep moving in case the pervert guy was following her.
She hustled down the sidewalk, trying to keep her head straight but god dammit if it didn't feel like things were starting to spin. The people she walked by looked at her strangely and moved out of her way as she staggered through. They were wearing strange clothes. And the vehicles on the street…they weren't right. They were old. Alison spotted a man in a uniform that looked to be law enforcement.
"Sir! Sir, please help me!" She cried out and grabbed the man's arm. He looked startled and looked her up and down.
"What's the matter, Miss?" He asked.
"I don't know where I am! I woke up in the woods and there was this pervert guy, and everything is different and you have to help me, please!" Her words came out in one big ramble.
"Now, calm down." He said.
"You don't understand! I blew a tire, and then there was this pain, and I blacked out! I'm nowhere near where I was before I woke up and everyone is dressed strange, and the cars are old and-"
"Okay, okay…" He said with a huff. Did he just roll his eyes? "Another drunk kid." He mumbled and brushed her hands off of him.
"I'm not drunk! I'm stone cold sober!" She yelled.
"Ma'am, just come with me and will let you sleep this off at the station." He grabbed her arm.
"I said I'm not drunk! Let go of me!" She shouted as she tried to yank her arms away.
It was then that she saw the young man from before, accompanied by a young woman, and someone inexplicably wearing large armor. All of this just kept getting weirder.
"That's him! That's the pervert!" She exclaimed and pointed at him. The officer, without letting go of her arm looked at the man.
"It's you!" The blonde man yelled and pointed at the brunette girl.
"And now you're accusing a State Alchemist? Do you understand how much trouble you keep digging for yourself?" The officer scolded. What the fuck was a State Alchemist?
"Pervert? Brother, what did you do?" The one in armor spoke to the blonde man. His voice was surprisingly young sounding for someone of such large stature.
"I didn't do anything!" The young man yelled at the armor.
"I apologize Mr. Fullmetal, sir. I'm taking her away as we speak." The officer apologized.
"No!" The one addressed as Fullmetal interjected. The officer gave him a strange look. "She…we actually need to question her about some things…regarding…alchemy…." He managed to say. The officer stared for a few more moments and shrugged.
"Less work for me." He said and released her arm. He turned and went about his business down the street.
The young woman watched the officer walk away before turning to the trio before her. She stared at them before her eyes darted nervously toward the road, then back to them.
"Don't-" Fullmetal warned.
"Ever played Frogger?" Alison asked suddenly.
"Have I ever played what?"
Before Fullmetal could get an answer to that strange question she darted across the street, being narrowly missed by passing cars. She was pretty sure she heard him call after her but she just kept running.
"Ed! What are you doing?!" Winry yelled after Edward as he ran after the mysterious girl. She let out an annoyed sigh. "It's like Peninya all over again."
"Did she take his watch too?" Alphonse questioned.
Alison ran through alley ways, not sure which direction she was going, and hoping anyone following her wouldn't know either. She found a fire escape and climbed it. She looked around and saw a red coat flash by one of the alleys. She cursed and looked for her next move.
"Teenage agility, don't fail me now." She took a deep breath and ran across the roof and leapt over the gap and to the next building.
She landed a little roughly but kept running. Her next jump her foot landed on the brick edge. It gave way and crumbled under her foot. She fell forward onto the roof. She spit out the blood that was collecting in her mouth. She must've busted her lip. She dragged herself to her feet and started to look for a place to hide. Her energy was waning, and fast. There looked to be a large structure on the east end of the roof. She staggered over to the area, realizing she may have hurt her ankle on that last jump. She hid behind it and collapsed. Once she felt the energy leave her body her chest started to heave, and she began to cry harder than she had in a long time.
Edward came across a pile of broken bricks and dust on the ground. It looked to be recent, or the dust would probably be more scattered around or gone all together. He looked up to find part of the brick edge of the roof missing. She'd come this way. He went to the corner end of the building to find a fire escape. He climbed the ladder and looked around.
While scanning the rooftop he noticed a blood splatter that looked fairly fresh. He listened for a moment and could hear sniffling and heavy sobbing. He approached the structure on the roof and peered around the corner to find the young woman sitting against the wall and crying with her face buried in the large bag she had with her.
"Hey…" He spoke gently. He startled her and she scrambled to back away. "Please! Don't run! I'm not going to hurt you!" He urged.
"Then why do you keep running after me?!" She choked out.
"I…I just…" He wasn't quite sure. "You looked hurt…and lost. I just…wanted to help you." Slowly, while maintaining eye contact, he sat down with his back against the structure's wall.
"You sure are going through a lot of trouble to help me." She sounded untrusting.
"My name is Edward Elric." He said calmly.
He hoped if he remained calm it might help her calm down herself. He held out his left hand for her to shake. She looked at his hand for a while, like it might bite, before slowly shaking his hand. He wore white gloves. What an odd fashion choice, she thought.
"Alison. Um…Alison Rigby." She replied quietly.
"You have a strange accent. Where are you from?"
"Central Arkansas." She said quietly.
"Where is that?"
"…In the southern United State?" She said like it was obvious. He stared at her like he had no clue what she was even talking about. "Why are you trying so hard to help me?" She quickly changed the subject. Where she was from didn't matter right now. What mattered was where she was and who this guy was. He let out a sign and leaned back.
"I guess just trying to fulfill my good deed for the day."
"You often chase people down for a good deed?" She asked as she wiped her tear stained face. Her eyes felt swollen from crying and her cheeks burned from the tears. He chuckled.
"Nah…but I've gotten my hands pretty dirty before…so sometimes I try to go above and beyond good deeds." He said.
"That's not sketchy at all." She murmured in reply. "So, if you aren't a pervert, and aren't going to hurt me, then what were you doing in the woods? Why were you standing over me? Why am I not in my home town next to my car? That was the last thing I remember!" She sounded less trusting with each question.
"Hold on, now!" He put his hands up. "I just found you in the woods. I wasn't sure if you were dead or alive! I was just trying to help you." He explained. "As for anything that happened between what you last remember and when I found you…well, I'm just as lost as you are." He told her softly. He watched her face carefully as she looked at the ground and seemed to be trying to process something.
"Where am I?" She asked suddenly, almost hesitantly. He watched her silently for a few moments before replying.
"Frondt." He told her. Her eyes met his, and for the first time realized they were a stunning gold color. The setting sun behind her only seemed to make them shine brighter.
"…Where is Frondt? What country am I in?" Her voice was shaking.
"Amestris…" He wasn't sure where this was going, but he was starting to get the feeling that by trying to help this girl, he was getting himself into more than he'd anticipated.
"Amestris…is that a large country?" She gulped.
"It's…pretty big. It's one of the strongest in the continent. Why are you asking these questions? Do you not know where Amestris is?"
"I'm going to throw up." She stated and tossed her bag aside before she scurried to the side of the building. He could hear her starting to vomit until it turned into a dry heave.
"Are you okay?" He rushed to her side as her stomach emptied itself onto the pavement below and the side of the building.
"No…" She choked out. "I don't understand. I don't understand what's happening!" She cried out. "There's no way to explain this without sounding insane!"
"Just try." He spoke to her softly. A small voice inside of him pointed out he was being unusually patient with this girl. He shushed the voice and justified his actions by believing that the case with this girl was extremely interesting.
"Where I'm from…Amestris isn't a place." She said quietly. "Where I'm from…the clothes, the cars, the buildings, they're all different." Her words seemed to go right over his head. He shook his head and tried to think about what she'd just said.
"You said you passed out before you woke up in the forest. What happened before then?" He asked as calmly as he could. But she was right. She sounded insane.
"Um… Ok…" She tried to gather her thoughts. "I was driving to my friend's house. I got a flat tire. I got out to look at it. I went to get the spare, so I put my bag on my back, and went to get the spare and-" She stopped speaking for a moment and just left her mouth open, like she couldn't speak.
"What happened next?" He pushed. She blinked quickly as tears began to form in her eyes again.
"I…I felt this pain. It was worse than anything I've ever felt before. It started at my back and then it felt like my whole body was melting from the inside out. I couldn't breathe. I lost consciousness on the side of the road." She managed to choke out.
"You say it started with your back? Like the spine, skin, muscle?"
"The skin first. Like being sliced and burned at the same time."
"Do you mind if I look?" He asked.
She didn't say anything, but just gave a small nod. He felt her body go rigid as soon as he touched her. He stopped for a moment to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, then she felt him lift up the back of her shirt, at first just a little. He seemed to still himself before lifting it up a little further.
"Did you…did you have any markings on your back before?" His voice was shaking slightly.
"A few freckles, but that's it." She replied.
"Are you absolutely sure?" His voice was starting to shake more. She didn't reply for a moment. She was afraid to.
"…Why?" Now her voice was shaking. He dropped her shirt and backed away enough to look at her. She didn't look like she was lying.
"Do you know what alchemy is?" He asked.
"I mean…not really. I've heard of it but it died out centuries ago." A strange emotion crossed his face that she couldn't quite read. Concern? Confusion?
"Do you know anything about human transmutation or the philosopher's stone?" He said in a rough whisper.
"Philosopher's stone? Like the thing in Harry Potter?" She looked at him, confused. What did Harry Potter have to do with any of this?
"I don't…I don't know who that is but I'm going to assume we're thinking of two different things, so no." At this point they were just confusing each other further.
"Whatever! Just, what is on my back that has you so freaked?!" She shook her hands in exasperation.
"There are markings. Like a tattoo." Her face visibly paled when he told her. Her hand flew to her back to try and touch the area.
"Wha- how? I don't…" She stammered. "Of what?" She finally managed to squeak out.
"It's an alchemical symbol. It looks…like it's for human transmutation, but it looks different." He explained, trying to calm his own voice. It wouldn't do any good for them both to start freaking out.
"What does that even mean?" She asked him as if she was pleading for him to make any of this make sense. He hated that he couldn't do that for her.
"Please, come back with me. My brother, a friend of ours, and I are staying at a little Inn in town. My brother and I are practically experts in the field of alchemy, and my friend had medical training. We can help you." He promised.
She stared into his golden eyes before biting her lip and nodding. What choice did she have? He helped her to her feet, noticing that she winced when she put weight on her left ankle, he grabbed her bag for her, and led her down the fire escape and through the streets to where he was staying.