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Geekery. Gratuitous character cameos. Explosions. Gunplay. Horseplay. Swordplay. Wordplay -- and foreplay. Bad puns. Steampunk fashions. Worse puns. Hawaiian shirts. AND THE DEATH OF THE NINJAVAN! Not even AAA can find this intersection...



WARNING: Broken Brains are a possible result of reading this. No Spoilers! But it is completely A/U



Balance of Power: Eden Gate


Prologue/Sneak Peek









The old man was dying. He had lain in his bed for a week, or perhaps a month. His age-dimmed eyes barely noted the change from day to night, now that his life was near its ending. His mind had wandered, sometimes walking the paths of his youth, other times going stranger places. But his thoughts were clear now. He knew from the coolness of the air and the smell of the stone temple walls that it was hours before a dawn he would not greet. He murmured a prayer to the god he had served all his life, then raised his voice.

“Benu, tchema ke.” He called in the temple tongue, the language of his ancient people. Warrior-Son, attend.

There was a rustling from the next room, and the padding of bare feet on a well-swept floor. The old man heard the younger approach, then kneel at his bedside. “Yulshen, ke teru.” Warrior-Father, here I am.

The old man reached, and found a solid shoulder. The boy had grown to manhood, now, his body strong and flexible, his mind disciplined and devoted.

“It's time,” the old man said in a voice gone reedy in the dryness of age.

“Time? Father, I--”

“Hush and attend, my student.” The old man patted the shoulder, feeling the warm life pulsing steadily within his student as it no longer did in himself. “Go to the shelf. Do you see the cedar-wood box?”

“Yes, Warrior-Father.”

“Bring it to me.” The old man waited, and ran his fingertips over the smooth wood his student put in his hands before he opened it. “Look, Warrior-Son. Here are the signs. I saw them before the planting-season.”

“I see only a beetle's dry body and a dried flower, Father.” There was confusion in the younger man's voice.

“You will see, when the sun rises. It's time, Son. Time for us both to go.” The old man heard another voice, more clearly than that of the man he had trained from boyhood. It was indeed time, and he welcomed it with a soft sigh.

Beside the old warrior-priest's bed, the young one put his face in the blankets and wept.
__________


The creature lay amid the curls of mist. Harsh breath lifted slick sides, respiration interrupted by the glide beneath its skin -- worms that swam briefly under the greyish hide before burrowing into flesh once more.

The massive head slid on the spongy surface, the ridged cheek digging a groove as it blinked tiny eyes at the murky white surroundings. Heavy lips pulling back from dark gums, it bared small teeth as a jolt of pain surged through its body.

"Wait!- I can’t get a clear shot- Keep back!-NO!" Voices it knew, voices it didn't, skittered in whispers, tickled like thousands of spider legs running over its flesh.  Pain and memory scorching past in a torrent that burned patterns in its brain. It was aware of itself, that it was not what it had been. It reached, fell short. Instinct drove it, made it writhe and strain as the sensations merged and wove confusion about it. Children giggled beyond its vision, the ripples of their mirth trembling through its gleaming sides. Dissatisfaction -- it rose and nearly became volition, then sank again under the weight twisting was and is and might be.

But it sensed one certainty, without comprehending it. It drove itself to what might have been feet. Or maybe it slithered on its belly. Perhaps it was doing both --t he tides of madness carried it onward, uncaring. What mattered was that it moved.

It was time. Its senses cleared, enough for a world to coalesce in its mind. Time to go.

Shifting one muscled haunch, it curled blunt toes for purchase -- paused when its arms couldn't push its torso upright. It thrashed, staggered to misshapen feet, and lurched forward.

Cold dragged its attention back to the non-world around it; a forced, humping lurch finally putting the odd ground beneath its broad feet. A sound like a bleat rose from its throat.

Wind was building. Abruptly, a hard snap, a whip of electrical fire wound around its form--

--a burst of sulfur burning through its nostrils. Hatred. It hated, and its mind re-formed around that hatred.

The surface was torn away.

The wind rose to a gale, and despite its weight the creature was hurled backward. Twin doors materialized at its back, then a slender crack groaned as the heavy doors swung open.

Fear replaced hatred for a moment, and the creature fought uselessly, spinning as it tumbled towards the event horizon. No force could have stopped its fall.

It was time.

__________

It was time. There was nothing else to do, nothing else to pack. The woman pulled the door to the house closed, leaving the key in the lock. Around her, the village was beginning to stir. The sun was still low on the horizon, and she had a long way to go.

Rose checked the load in the cart, making sure nothing would shift and fall onto her drowsing son. The boy slept even as his mother positioned herself behind the draw bar and leaned her weight on it to get the wheels moving over the cobblestones. She kept her eyes focused straight ahead, trying to hurry, but the voices followed her anyway.

“Good riddance.” Mrs. Murphy, the baker's wife.

“Curse go with you and your witch-brat.” Cern, the rag-man. He'd been the one who turned the villagers' uncertainty into outright hostility, and Rose's back stiffened at his hiss.

Other eyes watched her going, leaving behind her house and most of its furnishings. She'd spent five years sewing and mending, doing her best to make ordinary cotton and wool look like the fashionable linens, silks, and cashmeres pictured in the ladies' fashion magazines. Five years of saving scraps and haggling over every mouthful of food for herself and her growing child.

Five years trying to forget the twisted path that had brought her here.

Now she was again a refugee. The town where she had grown up wouldn't have her, reminder of Cornello that she was. Nor would she be safe in the cities, where two-legged predators prowled and no one knew or cared about neighbors. She had considered it, weighed her options, then bought herself sturdy walking boots and the cart.

There was only one place left to go.

__________



On the third morning, the fierce sun came up and threw red light across the grave. The young man kneeling at its head waited, the cedar box open in his hand and a polished sickle-sword laid on the sandy ground in front of his knees, until the glowing ball rose above the horizon, then closed the box and tucked it into the knapsack he'd prepared. He murmured in the temple tongue, his voice pitched for the teacher he had buried. May your journey be swift and the path straight, Warrior-Father.

It was time. The young priest gathered up his pure-white hair, and tied it back in a ponytail that just brushed the nape of his neck. Then he picked up the sword and folded the end of his sash around the blade, drawing it through the fabric to clean away the dust. He sheathed the weapon, then picked up his knapsack and settled it across his shoulders. Finally, he hefted a light rifle, checking the safety lever before slinging the modern thing over his shoulder.

He strode off toward the sun through a field of sapphire-blue flowers.

__________




Next Chapter Post Date -- April 29, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
May I say the last chapter's end was very Land of the Lost meets a Vin Diesel movie, in the most awesome and horribly cliffhangar way possible? Just--earthquake! Helicopters! Scary!

Okay. Reilly's Gate-detecting abilities had been TOTALLY FORGOTTEN, nice work there completely flooring us with your skillz of foreshadow YET AGAIN. *high-fives* The ring of Armstrong pillars made me cackle, because that is EXACTLY him--Ed's design aesthetic is sort of Renaissance-Satanic and the General's is more the friendly neighborhood Church of Armstrong. And this was a very strange and mysterious sort of prologue but I like it even if it makes me want to slice open goats and check the entrails in case they really do have the future in them.

Thank you for all your hard work, guys!
Reilly's Gate-detecting abilities had been TOTALLY FORGOTTEN, nice work there completely flooring us with your skillz of foreshadow YET AGAIN. *high-fives*

Thank you! Yeah, we sort of ignored them through most of the story. We didn't want to make everyone say "We knew THAT was going to happen". Just as we ignored Ducky's driving abilities for most of this. ;)

And this was a very strange and mysterious sort of prologue but I like it even if it makes me want to slice open goats and check the entrails in case they really do have the future in them.

Considering just what's planned for the sequel... This might not be completely out of the realm of possibility. **grins evilly**
Ed's design aesthetic is sort of Renaissance-Satanic and the General's is more the friendly neighborhood Church of Armstrong.

Well, where else would fangirls go to worship, but at the Church of Ed?

Which is another AU Crack!Verse I once made up and RP'd with sapphire_kikyo--it set up Ed, Al, Winry, Armstrong, and the Hughes family as deities--and Roy Mustang as the unwilling, conscripted High Priest of Ed--chosen by Ed, of course. Ed's the God of the Unlikely and Impossible Dreams, so he tends to leave a trail of twisted probabilities wherever he goes. It got rather weird from there.

Al: Especially what you did to my priests and priestesses. That was really weird.

It was to create an otherworldy atmosphere, Al.

Al: It worked--I knew I wasn't working in anyplace normal anymore, with all those cat-people and dog-people running around. I still don't think those were all humans in makeup. You were making chimeras, weren't you?

Not until recently--and then just for fun. I'm taking good care of the two on the lot now, honest! I feed them a good diet and make sure their living quarters are cleaned every day.

(Iiiii...think it's time to stop. If there was a point to this post, I've long since lost track of it. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting! We love comments!)
So very mysterious, but Rose is here so that centers me a little. I like how you have a next chapter post date already. It makes the whole collaborative aspect of the project seem more, hmmm... "organized"? Not just organized. Organized in a conspiracy, everyone knows what's up sort of way (a way that's good). Anyway, I like it.

You should note in the beginning that this is Arc Two, so that newcomers don't read this first.
"Organized" is the operative term here. Because we hadn't planned for the first story to snowball like it did, we weren't very organized, but now we are. All the way down to a spreadsheet plotting the major events (although leaving said events vague, to allow for creativity for each writer, and the path leading to those events a mystery). Even the schedule is set all the way to October 2011 (We're planning 30 chapters). So yes, we're MUCH more organized now. Hopefully there won't be the delays we had in the past. ;)

You should note in the beginning that this is Arc Two, so that newcomers don't read this first.

Good idea. It's listed that way in the Index, but not everyone knows where that is.
OCTOBER 2011?? Is that all arc 2 of does that go into an arc 3, if there is such a creature on the rise.

Anyway it's amazing both the end of arc 1 and this prologue congratulations to all of you! Rose...now that's a name I haven't remembered in awhile. Anyway I'm off for now, ((I only use this account so I could comment here XD)) so see you all on both of our returns come april!
That's just arc 2. 30 chapters plus an epilogue (not counting any unplanned crackfic that might be spawned from this adventure).
Oh, it's a conspiracy, all right. Three or four of them, I think, though I might have forgotten a few. We are dealing with alchemists, military intelligence officers, and Ducky, all of whom specialize in making logic-pretzels and trains of thought that careen off the tracks and into dimensions that really shouldn't exist.

As for organization, that's fractured_chaos's department. She runs the boards and cracks the whip--and yanks the reins when some of us (ahem) wander a bit too far from the bounds of semi-plausibility.

Havoc: You mean she thought the first part was plausible?,/i> *To Fury.* We are so hosed.

Anyway thanks for the comment! Glad you liked seeing Rose again--she's going to turn up again, further into the story. I just love canon-character cameos.
Wow, this is awesome. o_o I can't wait to see it! 8D
Hmm, five years for Rose, at least. Does this mean that it's been about 3 years since the end of the movie? Or has it been five? Sorry for asking, it was just unexpected that it'd been five years for Rose. While reading this, I thought that Ed was about 18 or 19 and Al was 17 or 18 (since he reverted to being 17 at the end of the movie... but I don't think too many people know that >>).
Actually, the question is valid, and deserves an answer. It just took me awhile to get it out of my head and on paper in a way to explain the discrepancies and time-slippage. Hopefully this will help:

We have some "inconsistencies" with age and time from A:1 -- but some of that was deliberate.

Let me explain:

Ed was in Germany for 2 years until the movie and his reuniting with Al. In A:1, we have them in Germany for another year before they get tossed into the 21st century. And they ran around the 21st century for approximately 7 months before they jump the Gate to go home.

Hughes, who didn't jump several times through the Gate, landed in the 21st century right off the bat, and was stuck there for 4 years before he was reunited with Ed. Then, of course, that 7 months on the run before jumping Home.

Keep in mind, he "died" a few months before the end of the series, when Ed was tossed through the Gate, too.

So... approximate ages: Ed - 19, Al - 18, Hughes - 40/41 (somewhere I saw mentioned that Hughes' dates could be clearly seen on the headstone, either in the manga or the anime, and had him listed as 36 when he "died").

Now, on the Amestris side of the Gate, Ed is listed as "missing" for more than 4 years... coming up on 5. So one can assume that Ed has been "missing" for a year longer than he was.

This isn't that far from plausible, when you think about it. The Gate has been depositing people willy-nilly, and we're talking alternate worlds. Time isn't so much passing at different speeds as it's just passing. It's fluid. If it were static, Ed would have ended up in germany at the same time he left Amestris, but there was about 10 years difference (Not certain, I'll have to rewatch the movie to verify that).

Okay, so... we also have the issue of Rose's son, Jeremiah, whom we have listed as 5. Someone asked about that. And I think we can explain it...

The baby was born before the end of the series. From the looks of it, he was about 9 months (or older, but not quite a year) at the end of the series. This could put him at almost 3 by the time the movie begins, and even though Ed was only gone for 3.5 years by his reckoning, he was gone for 4.5 by Amestris time. So that would make Jeramiah close to, if not exactly at 5.


Does that help any? Or does it make it more confusing?

Can you tell that time-travel stories are some of my favorites? XD
Are you trying to torture me?! Are you TRYING to make me CRY???????????????? I wait a year or two for you to update with 6 chapters and then you end it THERE??????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why do all good fanfics go this way? Anyways, I love your fic. It has been the subject of many late night/early morning tirades.

Hearts, Dragon Fairie
Torturing is what we do best! **grins evilly**

And we actually have a schedule for the sequel. And sometimes it's a good thing when we get ahead of it... such as now. Chapter One is now up. But don't expect any actual "answers" -- Not yet, anyway. ;)
*sniffles* Sometimes I hate you people, but I know I shouldn't 'cause that would make me a hypocrite.
LOL! That's okay. We sort of expect the rants. ;) We kinda live for them, actually. And if you thought the first story was littered with cliffies... the second will be worse.

**RUNS**

I hate you people. I'm going to loose all my inspiration by reading these kinds of fanfics, but I suppose I can't blame you (very much). I mean after all, it is my chose (but not when it comes to the good stuff). My every word is seething with sarcasm and anger, and the computer screen is cracking with the force of my stare. Did I mention I hate you people?