An Arm-y Of Two
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Armando stalked through the wreckage of the reception area. He reached up to his left shoulder and tore off the arm composed of tungsten carbide. "I know they're keeping it here somewhere," he said. The offices of the Unusual Incidents Unit was nearly empty on a weekend, but the odd guard still managed to give him trouble.

He turned and sent his left arm flying down the side hallway, the condensed crystal structure barreling through a water cooler, and down to crash against the exterior wall. He followed it down, casually swinging the arm in his right hand, breaking windows, filing cabinets, and various federal office knick-knacks that dotted the cabinets.

Two agents streaked out of a cubicle and ran down the hallway. "Jesus Christ, run!" one of the agents exclaimed, turning to snap off a round at Armando.

Armando ducked right, and hurled his reformed left arm down the hallway, the volatile gasses mixing with the polyester of the man's tie, combusting instantly. Both agents were vaporized in a heartbeat. The sprinkler system started to go off, soaking Armando in stale water.

Armando took a cursory glance around the cube farm that took up this portion of the floor, turning to head back towards the elevator that brought him up here.

The sounds of fire and dripping water were no longer the only sounds which filled the office building. Outside, sirens were approaching, and helicopters zoomed overhead. He needed to get out of the area quickly, but he couldn't leave without the target. "Come on, come on, where are you…"

An FBI agent ducked around the corner, and squeezed off a pair of shots, sending them down towards Armando. He ducked behind the tungsten arm in his right hand for a second, just long enough to confirm the bullets wouldn't hit him. With practiced ease, he hurled the arm down the hallway, controlling its path into a tight fist, which made lethal contact with the agent's sternum.

The sounds of helicopters drew closer, directly over the building before cutting out completely. Goddammit, where the hell is this thing? Armando thought, the left arm he'd drawn rapidly replaced with one made of burning plasma. He lifted the tiny device he'd been given out of his right pocket, and turned in a circle, looking for the small blip on the GPS device.

He followed the signal down rows and rows of desks, finally coming to a door marked "Storage - UIU". Armando's face split into a slight grin, reaching down for the knob.

click click

"For fuck's sake. Locked. Alright, the fun way it is," he said, pacing back down the row of desks away, turning and with a single smooth motion ripping the burning plasma arm off of his left shoulder, and hurling it down the desks with a yell towards the door.

The plasma crashed through the reinforced security door, blowing it off of its hinges. Armando smiled, and made a drawing motion, pulling the arm back towards him. It floated back towards Armando, slowing down.

What the hell… he thought to himself, trying to assert tighter control. He'd never had much of an issue controlling his appendages since he'd been dosed, but for some reason, he couldn't feel the connection to this arm anymore.

A voice rang out from the back of the ruined office floor, "You made a simple mistake, Armando."

Armando hesitated for a moment, watching the arm gutter out to nothingness, losing all feeling of its connection. He turned around and faced the figure in the back of the office. The man was of average height, a little stocky. He wore flowing green robes, and carried an oddly shaped object in his right hand, almost like a mace. His left hand was outstretched, towards Armando, making a slow grasping motion.

Ruslav Diaghilev, Director of the Alchemy Department stood calmly in the now-leveled reception office, walking calmly towards Armando, his body language fairly neutral.

"And what is that, Mister….?" Armando's left arm grew into a new arm made of hyper-dense boron gas.

"Elder, actually," Ruslav rumbled out, with an amused smile, "You failed to consult an alchemist when performing a transmutation, of course. I am Ruslav Diaghilev, Elder Alchemist of the Seventh Circle, and Director of the Foundation Alchemy Department. I'm investigating why there's been a significant disruption of the aethers around the UIU offices." The Director paced forward, coming to rest a few meters from Armando.

Armando grinned, and send his left and right arms flying, one a mass of brightly glowing motes of cesium decaying rapidly, the other a mass of boron gas. The arms swung in lazy circles toward the Elder, who didn't move.

Ruslav raised his right hand, to intercept the cesium decay, redirecting the nascent radiation into a harmless tenebrous flow which dissipated into the ceiling. His left hand made a clawing gesture, converting the boron gas to pure oxygen. "I would ask you to not do that. Your….abilities are significantly disrupting the work that I and my colleagues work very hard to maintain."

Armando growled and started throwing arms faster, two and three, and four at a time. Solids, gasses, some of the arms composed of creatures writhing around each other. Armando's hands, blurred both to and from his shoulders, rapidly filling the intervening space with arms.

Ruslav sighed quietly and replaced his crozier in the holder on his belt. He stepped in sure patterns, akin to a martial artist, his hands moving in slow circles left and right. His fingers splayed and retracted, reconverting the arms in their component aethers, each one winking out a few feet away from Ruslav.

"How in the hell are you doing that?!" Armando yelled, panting slightly.

Ruslav changed his stance for a moment, drawing the fulminous aethers around him. He shifted his hands forward, holding his crozier between them, flinging the gathered energy with practiced ease.

Armando threw his arms at the incoming blast of lightning, managing to deflect some portions of it, but a goodly jolt crashed into his body, sending him flying back into a nearby desk.

Armando sprang to his feet, and hurled arms at Ruslav, attempting to overwhelm the Elder Alchemist. Each one was a different composite, heavy arms towards the floor under the Elder's feet, and the lighter ones into the air to give him two directions to deal with.

Ruslav dodged to his right, his Crozier knocking one of the arms away, as his left hand easily pulled apart arm after arm into its component aethers. The floor underneath Ruslav buckled under the weight of the heavy arms crashing into it, forcing him back down an aisle.

Armando and Ruslav faced off, each holding their ground. Arms flew across the intervening space at breakneck speed. Some of them were torn apart into their component aethers, others batted away by Ruslav's crozier, some simply deflected by blasts of fire or lightning. This continued for what felt like an eternity, before Ruslav took a deep breath, and stamped his foot, slamming together the newly freed aethers, compressed by a shell of tenebrous aether.

The glowing mass between the two of them was nearly blinding. Ruslav concentrated and forced it to implode on itself, detonating in a concussive shockwave that blew the desks around them away. The shockwave blew Armando back against the rapidly crumbling drywall of an interior dividing wall. Ruslav held his ground, the aethers flowing around him in harmonious balance.

The aetheric currents finally calmed down, leaving Armando groaning in a pile of shattered drywall. His arms coalesced into two differently carboned steels.

Ruslav stalked forward and made a simple gesture, his fingertips closing in a motion akin to pulling a thread. Armando's arms gradually shifted back into human flesh. He tugged experimentally, confirming that his abilities were still intact, before eyeing Ruslav suspiciously, drawing himself to his feet.

"Apologies for that, but I needed your attention. I am an alchemist, Armando, your abilities, while extraordinary, are alchemic in nature. I don't know how you acquired them, or why you can so easily manipulate the aethers, but that's not really why I'm here." Ruslav stood calmly in front of Armando, his hands only slightly raised from his sides.

Armando groaned and stretched out his back, shards of drywall falling down, "Then why are you here, precisely? I'm not going back to the Foundation. I'm not gonna be caged again."

Ruslav shook his head and held up a hand. "I do not want to contain you. That's…not really my department. You have a natural anomaly which allows you to generate transmutational constructs. I believe that I need your help in dealing with a threat to our reality."

Armando laughed quietly for a moment, before breaking into a full belly laugh, "And why would I help you?"

Ruslav nodded, and reached into one of the pockets of his robes, extracting a small coin with a long black cord through a small hole. "This is what you were here for, is it not?" He turned it over in his fingers.

Armando licked his lips, eyeing the coin, "I'd rather just throw down for it than let you hold it over me." He concentrated, his right arm bursting into bright red flames, and his left manifesting clumps of toxic mud up and down his flesh.

"Seriously, I'd rather just die here, from your whatever the fuck alchemy than let you—" Ruslav shook his head and flicked the coin out to Armando. He guided the trajectory with a small gust of aeronous aether. Armando snatched the coin out of the air, rubbing it with his thumb and forefinger reflexively. He slipped the makeshift amulet over his head, and let it hang down on his shirt.

"I have no interest in blackmail. I can accomplish this myself. I would much rather bring you with me." Ruslav said, his eyes inscrutable.

Armando spent several long moments considering, before letting his hands fall to his sides. "Alright, I'm interested. On one condition."

Ruslav raised an eyebrow, "And that is…?"

Armando clenched his jaw for a moment, "None of your goons. Just you and I, and whoever takes us wherever the fuck we're going."

Ruslav rumbled out a quiet chuckle, "Da, this is acceptable. Come, our helo is waiting on the roof." Without a moment's hesitation, he turned and walked briskly out of the ruined cube farm towards the elevator.

Armando walked forward, picking drywall out of his hair and clothing. He caught up to Ruslav, and studied the older man, waiting for the elevator. His clothes weren't even dusty. Who the hell is this guy? Armando thought to himself.

Beside him, Ruslav took a quick glance at the destruction wrought by Armando's arms, sensing the still-chaotic energies of the rapid transmutations he was capable of. What in Luna's name is this man?

The two engines of destruction smiled awkwardly at each other as the elevator arrived, which would wisk them up to the roof, where the Foundation helicopter awaited.


This is part of the OCT Tournament! My partner is WerylliumWeryllium. View their contest entry here!.

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