Going back a few hours to Winry's initial arrival in the Northern area, she had been guarded at the foot of the mountain until Solf Kimblee arrived to escort her to Fort Briggs. On the car ride up, Kimblee had made small-talk, asking if Winry's parents had been the Doctors Rockbell who had lost their lives during the Ishval Civil War and remarking that his unit had recovered the Rockbells' bodies from their place of death and that he had arrived too late for them. Kimblee had stated that, for having followed their convictions and stayed on the battlefield up until the moment of their deaths, the Rockbells earned his respect and he only wished he could have met them.

In the present, Winry fits Edward with new cold-climate automail limbs in Fort Briggs' medical room, admonishing him for not telling her that he was coming north and inquiring as to why the boys were being imprisoned when she had arrived. Kimblee, watching over the scene, explains that it was a simple misunderstanding and that he will get it all sorted out personally, to which Winry responds with gratitude. Drawing her close, Ed warns Winry against trusting Kimblee and begins to tell her that he had been a murderer in Ishval, but his recollection of Lt. Hawkeye's account also reminds him of her remark about his own feelings for Winry, causing him to become far too flustered to think clearly. As he frantically recites the periodic table of chemical elements to calm his mind, Winry absently asks herself why she has fallen in love with such an oddball.

With his new limbs properly installed, Ed remarks that they are much lighter than he had expected and Winry responds that, while his arm and leg are less durable overall, their key features have been strengthened. After Captain Buccaneer arrives to show off his own new Mad Bear automail, Winry goes off with the Briggs mechanical staff, touring their workplace and studying their own developments with cold-climate automail. After Ed warns her to be careful and avoid wandering off, Kimblee approaches Fullmetal and declares that the time has come for them to discuss business.

Still in his cell and being watched over by Kimblee's bodyguards Zampano and Jerso, Alphonse realizes that Kimblee is attempting to keep the Elrics separated and has brought Winry to Briggs to act as a hostage and bargaining chip. He decides to be patient and wait for his chance to act. At the site of the underground tunnel's new secret entrance, Major General Armstrong oversees as 2nd Lt. Henschel, Karley and a few other soldiers mount a rescue/reconnaissance mission into the tunnel itself. As he descends into the dark depths, Buccaneer asks that the entrance be sealed up again if their party has not returned within twenty-four hours. Armstrong, in her turn, remarks to her remaining men that Raven's death was her doing and that, should an investigation be called on the matter, they are ordered to lay the blame on her and abandon her for the sake of the fortress.

In Central City, Colonel Mustang learns of the situation up north from the flower seller and is told that Briggs, which excels in defense, requires the aid of the East Area forces, which excel in offense. As he pays her for her information and she prepares to leave, Roy asks the flower lady who she is and she remarks that she is merely an old woman who has served the Armstrong family for generations. In the tunnel under Briggs, Buccaneer's party comes across the dead horses and severed limbs of the first group as well as pieces of metal that have mysteriously been sliced into pieces. Continuing along with caution, however, they discover two terrified survivors of the previous party trembling in the dark. Frantic, the men declare that they must escape quickly and turn out all their lamps, as light draws "the shadow". Sure enough, the mysterious, oculus-laden shadow from before re-emerges and creeps along the tunnel wall to prey on Buccaneer's group. However, as if its attention were suddenly called to something else, it quickly recedes and disappears without having been noticed. Narrowly having escaped death, the rescue party heads back toward the fort.

Back in Central, Lt. Hawkeye arrives at the Führer's executive mansion with important papers for King Bradley to peruse. However, Mrs. Bradley informs her that the Führer is out at the moment. As Riza hands the papers over, she is struck by the sensation of a malignant presence creeping up behind her and rapidly turns to face the newcomer, who turns out to be merely young Selim Bradley, who responds that he had thought the person at the door had been his father and greets Lt. Hawkeye before being led off to bed. Mrs. Bradley fawns over her adopted son and Riza remarks that the boy's outgoing nature must come from the First Lady's side of the family, but the madame replies that Selim is actually a distant relative from her husband's side. Shocked, Riza hastily takes her leave, remembering that - according to Mustang's account - King Bradley is a Homunculus and should not have any blood relations. And, remembering that Selim had given off a strange presence just a few moments ago, her mind is drawn to a singular conclusion - a conclusion that is all but confirmed when little Selim himself emerges menacingly from the nearby shadows and laments his mother's chatty nature. Clearly cornered, Hawkeye remarks that the presence Selim is exuding resembles the presence she felt when Gluttony had approached her from behind and demands to know the little boy's true identity. Selim responds that, since she has shown prudence in leaving her firearm holstered, he will leave her unharmed so long as she tells no one of her discovery. He declares that Gluttony's presence is far inferior to his own and, as the mysterious shadow from the tunnel spreads out from within his body, Selim explains that he is - in reality - the very first Homunculus: Pride.

Back at Briggs, Kimblee holds private conference with Edward and explains that the time has come to perform his duty as a State Alchemist. The Führer has ordered that the Fullmetal Alchemist assist in Red Lotus' north area search for Scar and Dr. Marcoh as well as carve a Crest of Blood into Briggs.

Chapter Notes

  • Kimblee's remarks to Winry in the flashback are of course half-truths referring to his orders to kill the Rockbells and his missed chance to do so as they had been murdered by Scar shortly before the Red Lotus' arrival on the scene.
  • This is the first instance of Edward sporting an automail set that noticeably differs from its predecessors in design.
  • The final price of the flowers bought by Roy as his cover for speaking with the flower seller for so long comes out to 35,200 cenz.
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