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This article is about the episode. For the character known as the Ice Queen, see Olivier Mira Armstrong.

The soldiers at Fort Briggs remain ever vigilant against the threat of spies from Drachma. The massive compound may seem impenetrable - but a violent intruder offers destructive proof to the contrary.

Full Synopsis

In Fort Briggs' infirmary, Edward is informed that he came very close to suffering frostbite, since his flesh is in constant contact with the conductive metal of his automail, and that his destruction technique didn't work on Captain Buccaneer because the special cold-climate automail models produced at Briggs are made up of several composite materials. Major General Armstrong comes to call on the Elrics and, after making it clear that she is not very fond of her younger brother, demands to know exactly why they have come to her citadel and why Alphonse's armor is empty. Ed is reluctant to explain the latter, since it could not only result in his own court-martial but also endanger Winry, who is effectively being held hostage by King Bradley, but since Armstrong is quite insistent, the boys agree to give a limited account of the truth that leaves out the Homunculi and the Führer's involvement. Hearing their story and understanding their search for Mei Chang, Armstrong expresses her disgust with the boys' recklessness and makes it clear that the only reason she isn't expelling them from her fortress is that she is intrigued with alkahestry and its capabilities as a possible new weapon. Alphonse objects to the offensive use of a medical-use alchemy, but Armstrong urges him to realize that he speaks with the naivete of a person who lives in the nation's comfortable interior without marking that the nation's borders are a dangerous place of constant struggle. She commands that they bring Mei to her once she is located and orders her aide, the sunglass-wearing Major Miles to show them around the fort and give them a task that they might earn their keep. As she departs the infirmary with Buccaneer, the Major General remarks that the Elrics are rather softhearted for having seen so much hardship and that there are parts of their story that were omitted.

Escorted by the silent Miles, Edward attempts to start a conversation by recalling the Major General's assertion that everyone in Briggs has something to hide from the outside world and asking what secret burden the Major bears. Acquiescing, Miles turns to the boys and removes his sunglasses, revealing the red irises of an Ishvalan. Explaining that, though his parents and grandmother were all of different races, the blood of his Ishvalan grandfather runs particularly strongly through his veins, Miles remarks that Edward's countrymen have caused much destruction in his ancestors' land. Stunned only for a moment, Edward replies by saying that some of Miles' countrymen attacked his hometown and killed the parents of his closest friend. Hearing this, Miles laughs jovially and apologizes for his rudeness, explaining that few people have treated him as an equal since the Ishval Civil War - opting rather to either fear or pity him - and that Ed is the first to speak to him without either in a long time. Realizing he was being tested, Edward explains that his relations with Ishvalan people have been rather varied, so he understands that people should be looked at and judged as individuals rather than as part of collective race. As they continue the tour, Ed asks if Miles felt any resentment toward the military for killing his countrymen and destroying his ancestors' land and Miles responds that he did and wondered why Armstrong would keep him on instead of turning him in and eliminating a possibly disruptive element among her soldiers. He recalls the incident in which he had asked her this directly, to which the Major General had responded that soldiers at Briggs must being able to set aside their differences to move as a single unit and defend the border at all costs. In addition, she had explained that Miles' perspective, as a child of multiple ethnicities was unique and especially useful to her, a pure-blooded Amestrian from the capital. And if his Ishvalan blood refused to forgive Amestris for its treatment of Ishval, she had promised to act as her nation's representative and face him one-on-one in a duel to the death.

As the tour continues, Miles explains that "survival of the fittest" is Fort Briggs' motto and, when a falling icicle barely misses fatally striking Ed, Miles explains that luck, too, is a part of that motto and decides that the boys' job at the fort will be clearing icicles that form on the landings before they grow and fall. He calls the soldier currently in charge of the icicle scrapers in order to introduce them and the boys are surprised to learn that it is Vato Falman - now promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant - who comes tor greet them.

Falman continues the tour and shows the Elrics to the Weapons Research and Development level down below - where engineers are working on the General's latest pet project, the Briggs Tank - as well as the fort's heart - the lowest level from where where massive pipes relay water, steam and power throughout the entire citadel. 2nd Lt. Falman remarks that even if the fort above were attacked, the lowest level and its essential functions would be in no danger. However, there is a bit of clamor in the lowest level, as engineers have begun hearing a strange digging sound coming from underground. As they wonder whether spies from Drachma are tunneling beneath their feet, a man underground burrows through the bedrock with his bare hands - a massive man marked with the Ouroboros on his left shoulder and matching the description of the Homunculus Sloth.

In her office, Major General Armstrong receives word from Miles and Buccaneer that Solf J. Kimblee was recently admitted to a hospital at the base of the mountain and has requested the full cooperation of Fort Briggs in the execution of his mission, as ordered by the Führer. Armstrong is suspicious, but the matter is thrust from her mind as reports suddenly come in regarding an intruder on the lowest level having broken in from underground. Staring at the behemoth newcomer alongside the terrified Briggs engineers, the Elrics quickly recognize the Ouroboros and fear that the Homunculus has been sent to corral their movements in the north. But when they attempt to explain to Sloth that they are merely at Briggs to further their search for a way to restore their bodies, they are surprised to find that the Homunculus doesn't appear to have been sent on their behalf or even know who they are. However, their attempt at conversation with the monster draws the attention of Buccaneer who fires on Ed and accuses him once more of being a spy in league with the intruder. The slow-witted and languid Sloth meanders around the base, asking if his digging is finally over and tossing random machines out of his indeterminate path. The newly-arrived Briggs soldiers open fire on him as he nears the elevator, but their bullets bounce harmlessly off the giant muscleman's flesh as if he were clad in steel and he accidentally triggers the lift to take him into the R&D section as everyone - Elrics included - gives chase.

Up on the R&D level, Major General Armstrong herself assaults the beast with a bazooka only to find that not even the flames of the explosion can harm it. She orders all noncombatants to withdraw and that the alarm siren be silenced and then mounts one of the newly finished tanks. Opening fire, she discovers that tank cannon fire causes damage, but only barely and even then, the Homunculus' regenerative powers repair his body. Sloth, figuring that he might as well get back to digging, endangers several Briggs soldiers by tossing large debris at them, but the Elrics arrive on the scene and transmute a shield to protect bystanders. Rushing to Armstrong's side, they inform her that firearms will not harm the creature and that Drachma is not its origin, but when she asks what it is and on whose orders it is acting, they assert that they cannot answer. Understanding that the Elrics are on her side, she asks what it is made of and Ed responds that its makeup is general identical to that of a human and, hearing this, Armstrong calls for tank fuel. Ed reasserts that setting it on fire will not harm it enough either, but the Major General replies that she is going to shut down its functions with something even worse than fire. She will show this monster the force of Briggs.

Episode Notes

  • This episode is based on content from Chapter 65: The Ironclad Rule and Chapter 66: The Snow Queen.
  • The array that appears in the background of this episode's title card is the Ouroboros.
  • This is the first episode in which the hair on Alphonse's helmet is cut short.
  • The tanks deployed against Sloth are based on German PzKpfw IV, a World War II medium tank.

Episode Cards

Fullmetal Alchemist 2009 Anime episodes
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