Al woke up to the smell of disinfectants and vomit. He pulled his heavy lidded eyes open and let his gaze wander across the whitewashed walls and sound textured ceiling. There were moans coming from somewhere nearby. Three beds were pushed into the narrow room, each filled by someone huddled under a sheet.
His search stopped on the metal stand next to each of the beds. A bag hung from each stand, connected to tubing that in turn disappeared in the patient. He looked to his side and saw an identical stand next to his bed. He followed the tube down to his own arm.
Hospital, Al thought, vaguely assured, but then his stomach lurched. Al had been in hospitals before, and this looked different. Sure enough, a second pass with his eyes confirmed a number of things. The posters on the wall were written in Xing. The high window over his bed had a mesh of bars. The door to the room was solid steel.
Prisoner of War.
The war between Xing and Amestris was in its eighth month. Most of the fighting so far had been grueling work, out in the no mans land of the desert, but Amestris had won some key battles and the last few had ranged into the boarder Xing border towns. Al hated the war, but he had no choice. The Military had been good to him in the past helping him to regain his body—if in a backwards sort of way, and now it called on him to give back into the system.
Getting captured was something he knew might happen. Getting dead was more likely. From the rumors that went around the rough tent camp Al had lived in for the last five months, dead was better.
Al tried to move his arms but found them tied to the corners of the bed. For the first time he noticed his hands. They looked like big blobs of gauze. He wiggled his fingers experimentally but met resistance.
The heavy door opened up and a middle aged Xingan man in a lab coat and stethoscope walked in. His eyes immediately connected with Al's and he nodded. Al noticed a small tag on the man's front pocket. Dr. Lao Tung.
"Do you understand me?" asked the doctor, walking up to check the bag over Al's head.
Al said nothing. training he'd been given told him to keep quiet and pretend to be dumb.
The doctor picked up a chart from the end of bed and flipped the metal cover open. Al's eyes fastened on the metal tag that dangled on a chain below the chart. Al's military ident. The doctor easily caught the tag and looked at it. "Major Alphonse Elric, Soul Alchemist," he read aloud. "That is you, yes?" he said in Amestian.
Al said nothing.
"You not stupid," continued the Doctor in a vaguely baffled tone. "I not stupid either. Speak or I make bad assumptions. Not safe for you."
"I'm Elric," said Al.
"Peoples Alchemist, right?" the doctor frowned. "No. That was Fullmetal. He related?"
"Where is he?"
"I have no idea. We aren't in the same unit." Hopefully Ed would be finding him soon. Al tested the restraints again.
"Ah, for your safety, no? My safety, too. No alchemy here, you understand." The doctor looked back at the chart. "You eighteen, male."
"Yes," Al was not going to explain that he was really 23 but that he hadn't aged 5 years for reasons to do with human transmutation and the date of birth on his tags was a convenient fiction. The enemy did not need to know about that part of his life.
The doctor placed cold dry fingers on Al's wrist and looked at his watch.
"No allergies?" The doctor took his blood pressure.
"No." Al searched his memories trying to figure out how he'd gotten captured, but there was nothing there. One minute he was raiding a warehouse, the next he was in this hospital. Except for nausea, he didn't feel any pain. "Was I shot?" he asked at last.
"Oh, no no!" said the doctor. "No injuries. Anesthesia trap. Good for collecting healthy specimens. Nice young healthy soldiers, good for experiments, yes?"
Al's nausea deepened. "What experiments?"
The doctor patted his cheek in a fond way. "Is okay, you see. No need to be afraid. Our—" Tung switched to Xingan "pharmacists" and then back again "doctors are very skilled."
Al shuddered and tugged on the restraints again. The doctor didn't seem to notice. Instead he walked to the sink and pulled a pair of thin gloves from a box. Al searched the room for something to help him out. A pen. All he needed was something to write with. Hell he could use his mouth. Just one array and—
The doctor pulled the sheet off of him. Underneath Al was quite bare. The doctors hands were firm pressing his abdomen, checking the lymph nodes in his armpits and groin and throat, then running up to his chest. With two fingers, the doctor rubbed each of his pects in a circular manner, spiraling in to the nipples. Al reddened. "No lumps," said the doctor. "Is good." The examination continued with a brief but very disconcerting inspection of Al's penis and testicles. Al knew what was coming when the tube of lubricant came out. "Relax."
The doctor didn't linger over the prostate exam. "You are very healthy. All good." Al sighed with relief with the doctor shed his gloves into the trash.
"So Major Elric, you have a wife, Children waiting for you at home?"
"No family," said Al. Except for Ed. Except for the military who had taken him in and cared for him for so most of his life, even when he was metal, even beyond, when he had reverted back to his 10 year old body. Even when Ed was officially AWOL, they still sent him dependants benefits. The military had been good to him.
Maybe this capture was cosmic payback for the good luck.
The doctor seemed oddly disappointed in the answer, and looked as if he were going to say something when the heavy metal door rattled and two Xingan men walked in. Both wore military uniforms, the older one was a lieutenant, the younger a private. Both stared at him unashamedly. Al felt embarrassed and exposed but the doctor made no effort to cover his nudity.
A moment later his state of undress was entirely forgotten as Al followed a rapid exchange in Xingan. "Are you done with the exam? Is he a candidate?" Al noticed the striping on his uniform that marked him as a lieutenant.
"I haven't established his virility yet, but otherwise he's fine. When is his procedure scheduled?"
"Three pm. Will that be enough time for you to complete your tests?"
"It shouldn't be a problem," the doctor assured him.
While the spoke the private set up lights and fiddled with camera equipment around Al's bed. They are going to photograph me—before images. Once the lights were set up the private began a series of photos, face front, then profile, full body, chest, groin, and then most embarrassingly, Al's legs were forcibly spread apart and the private photographed the region between his thighs.
"What are they going to do with me," said Al breaking his silence. "What is this test." He watched in horror as a cloth measuring tape was brought out, and the private set to making thorough measurements of his body, while the Lieutenant recorded the numbers on Al's chart. Chest, hips, waist and thighs, upper arms, even the placement of his facial features were carefully measured and recorded, all while the Doctor sat back on his chair and watched with small smile and a nod.
They really were going to experiment on his body. The inevitability began to sink in. Al thought of the Martel, of Nina. He remembered the pain they suffered both physical and mental. He didn't want to be a chimera.
"Please," he said to the Doctor. "Don't let them do this to me."
"It will be fine," assured the Doctor.
"Done," said the private in Xingan. He began turning off the lighting equipment and packing his things away.
The doctor didn't wait for them to leave the room before he pulled another pair of tight fitting gloves. Al was briefly baffled by the metal rod the doctor laid out on a paper cloth on the rolling table. But then came something Al was very familiar with, at least visually. It only took a second to realize why the doctor would need two condoms. The first was rolled out on the rod, which boded very ill. The second was meant for Al.
Al flailed and kicked, managing to send the flimsy table flying across the room onto one of the other patients, who moaned louder. Flexing his fingers as hard as he could he managed to stretch the gauze that balled his hands. But a moment later the lieutenant and the private were on him holding down his legs.
"Doctor, would you like a little help?" asked the officer.
"If you would," said the doctor calmly. "Major," he said, switching to Amestrian. "I be quick with this. You give me it and I stop. You fight me, you are sore. I still get it."
Al gritted his teeth while his knees were pressed up and apart. The probe that entered him was slick and cold and impossibly wide. "I do this before," said the doctor. "You not worry, just close eyes and think about pretty things. Girlfriend maybe."
Al refused to close his eyes. Instead he glared at the doctor with hate. That is until the probe within him began to vibrate. Al felt himself grow harder, and turned his head away as the doctor smiled and began rolling the condom down his shaft. Then with quick very efficient strokes the doctor attempted to arouse him to orgasm.
Al had masturbated plenty of times. This was different. The discomfort and clinical setting just seemed to amplify the wrongness. Al did close his eyes because he didn't want to see the pleased expressions on the faces of the enemy as they witnessed his humiliation. When he came it was not so much with pleasure as it was with relief that it was over.
And it was over. Al peeked his eyes open to see the doctor carefully pull the condom off and tie it, placing it in small glass cup marked a sticker with his name on it. Then almost as an after thought the doctor shut off the probe and withdrew it, leaving Al with a pithed ache.
"How can you do this to people," muttered Al to the doctor. "Didn't you sign some oath to do no harm?"
"Medicine requires experimentation, major," said the doctor with a very innocent look. Then his expression briefly darkened. "Better it be on your people and not mine."
The room never stayed empty for long. The metal door seemed to always be clanking open and shut, and every time it did so, Al tensed, wondering if this time it would be him being wheeled out to whatever experiment they had planned. There was no clock on the wall and the overcast day gave him little to go by to judge the time.
They wheeled out two of the other patients before him. He'd had a brief glimpse of one of their faces. Jamison, from his unit. Jamie had seemed normal until Al realized both his eyes had been gouged out.
Al had thrown up then. The doctor had cleaned him up briefly with a rag but the smell lingered. Occasionally the doctor spoke, either on the phone in the room or to one of the endless military aides that came in and out. Al pretended not to understand, and occasionally the words surpassed his fluency, but he began to get the gist of what was going on.
There were a number of alchemical experiments going on, all of which would have gone under the ban of human transmutation at home. Jamison was being used to test the viability of regrowing eyes. The second man had had both his kidneys surgically removed and then alchemically regrown. The results had been mixed, and apparently they were going to try to recreate them again. If that didn't work, he would be farmed and a new specimen used. The only comfort Al felt was that he didn't actually know the man.
As for himself—It could be a lot worse. Al thought.
Because he was an alchemist, Al had been selected for a different study. Something special. They used a lot of words that Al simply didn't know, but the few he caught made him shudder. "Pure research" came up several times. "Fertility" came up more than once. Most frequent of all was "genetics."
The disappointed look on the doctor's face when Al had said he had no children kept coming back. Al began to suspect that if his unit or Ed didn't rescue him soon, the likelihood of him ever having children was dim.
Then finally the door opened up and the attention was once again on Al. His muscles tense and he readied himself for a fight that just didn't happen. They didn't remove the straps on his arms at all, spending only a minute strapping his torso and thighs to the mattress before wheeling the entire bed out of the room and down the large well lit hall. Al watched as they pushed the bed through a set of large double doors into an enormous, but well lit room. The gleaming waxed floor was painted with an array, the metal cuffs looked dark and out of place compared to the sterility of the rest of the room.
Al was so distracted by the array that he didn't notice the doctor slip a needle into his IV until Al felt the first confusing effects. "Don't sedate him to strongly," one of the men in the room cautioned. "We don't want it to interfere with the experiment."
The doctor nodded. Al's mind was foggy. He felt as if a thick soft pillow had been pushed over his entire body, making it hard to do anything. He fought when they unstrapped him, but his arms felt weak and noodlely. Soon they had him laid out and tied down in the middle of the array. He pulled his arms, and felt the metal bite into his wrists and ankles. The men around him bent down and placed their hands on the array.
It was over. When the light blinded his eyes, and the pain seared through his body all the way to his bones, he prayed that the doctor was correct, and whatever they had planned for him worked the way they expected. He'd rather become a functional chimera like Martel and that he not be left to spend his remaining days a miserable creature like Nina.
Al woke up again on a bed back in the same room he'd woken up before. He ached all over, but he felt no sharp discomfort. Nonetheless his body felt wrong. With great effort, more mental than physical, Al pulled his head off the pillow and looked down at himself. Then found himself shaking in horror and disbelief.
Breasts caught his eye first, but he let that pass quickly as his eye continued down and stopped on what he didn't see. A penis. Testicles. They were all gone. This wasn't simple castration, it was utter emasculation. Did he have girl parts between his legs? If he did, he couldn't feel them.
Al wondered if he was even capable of feeling sexual pleasure anymore. Then he chastised himself for being bothered by the possibility. He'd been asexual before, and hadn't really missed it. He could be so again. It was hardly the end of the world. He was more bothered by the philosophy behind the experiment.
Why would they do this? What possible medical benefit could be derived from taking an ordinary male and turning him female? The words "pure science" once again rang in his head.
The doctor had noticed his movement. "Ah you wake up. Very good. See, see? They do a good job on you."
Al tore his eyes from his missing genetalia. "I'm not a man anymore," he said dully.
"No, you are a pretty girl now. Nice big breasts." The doctor grabbed his arm and slipped a rubber strap around it. Al ignored him as he tapped a vein up and drew blood. "You are very pretty. Better girl than boy."
"Are they going to change me back? Now they know they can do it." Al felt anger surging in him.
"Ah," said the doctor, then he shook his head. "No. You are girl now. The pharmacists removed your genes that make you boy. They put back genes that make you girl. There was one for girl, one for boy. Now, you have two girl chromosomes. It can't go back. There is no boy chromosomes left."
"This is so POINTLESS!" Al screamed. "How can you stand yourself, your oath..."
"It is better be a girl than be sick, or no eyes, or no kidneys. In pain. Maybe die. Maybe die slow." The doctor shrugged. "I do you a favor, picking you for this study."
The door opened again. Al recognized the man who came in as one of the ones who'd activated the array. He was not wearing a military uniform so Al figured he was the Xing equivalent to himself. He appeared to be in his mid to late twenties, with a cocky swagger to his walk that reminded Al of many alchemists.
"She's awake," said the newcomer in Xingan. "Have I missed any of her exam?"
The doctor switched to his native language as well. "No, sir, I was waiting on you. She seems to be doing quite well. Blood pressure and pulse are normal—considering. Her color is good."
The newcomer nodded, arrogance practically oozing from him. "Of course she is fine. Once we isolated what the problem with the earlier attempts, it became obvious what we needed to do. " He moved his arm and Al saw the name badge. Sao Chong, pharmacist.
Lao Tung hesitated. "What happened to the earlier attempts? Will they be treated now?" Al noticed that he seemed a bit nervous and almost fumbled the chart pulling it off it's hook.
"They've been farmed. There is plenty of raw material to work with. It's more convenient to start from a fresh slate than to rework a muddied one." Chong looked at Al. "Does she understand us? She is watching us most keenly."
"I imagine she is worried," said Tung. "I would be in her place. We can begin the physical exam any time you are ready."
Al tensed. Tung snapped a pair of gloves on again. "So will you be farming this one after the exam?" he asked. Al caught a nervous clipped quality to his voice.
"Of course not," said Chong. "She is wanted for questioning, for one thing. It will be interesting to study the effects of sexual humiliation during interrogation when the recipient was born a man and yet is forced to function as a female."
Al stomach twisted with fear and he tried to free his hands from their restraints. He needed something to draw an array with. Hell he'd do it with his tongue if he could just find a medium that could draw the symbols on. What he wouldn't give at this moment for Ed's ability to do alchemy by simply pressing the palms of his hands together and thinking of the proper array.
Chong noticed Al's expression and struggle and gave him a slow smile. "And beyond that," he continued, "We have yet to ascertain if the transformation affected her fertility. There is some danger of a chimera effect, which might render her sterile. The only way to truly prove the transformation went beyond the cosmetic level is if she actually is able to produce and carry young."
Al began to writhe, hoping to loosen his bonds. He looked over at the Dr. Tung, hoping against hope that his earlier words had struck some kind of cord in the man. Tung responded to his non-verbal plea by scowling and putting a hand on his neck.
For one brief second Al thought he might be attempting to strangle him as punishment for his restless behavior, but no, he was merely checking Al's lymph nodes again.
"There is also the danger of cancers, any time one messes with a person on a genetic level," Chung chuckled. "I really don't think that is likely. I was very clean with Major Elric."
Dr. Tung continued his exam, repeating what he'd done earlier in almost exactly the same way and sequence. The breast exam took a bit longer, and this time Al squirmed under the touch, but nothing in the doctor's attitude suggested this was anything other than a routine exam.
Chong was not nearly so professional. He openly leered when the exam moved from Al's extremities to his new female parts. Tung finished examining Al's nipples.
"There are no lumps." Tung then turned to Chong. "Checking for fertility is not as simple for a female as it is a male," Chong said. "I hope you are patient."
"Oh, yes, I can be patient," Chong openly leered. "I've given the matter some thought. I have read that the amount of sperm decreases when one ejaculates more frequently than every other day."
Tung nodded. "I have read such studies."
"Therefore," continued Chong keeping his eyes fixed on Al's, "In the interests of time and efficiency, it might be better to have three or perhaps four men ejaculate into her on a daily basis. That way when the window of opportunity presents itself there will be more than sufficient sperm to meet it."
Al held his breath. God no.
"I think your patient understands more of our language than she lets on," Chong drawled, amused.
Tung stopped pressing Al's abdomen and gave Chong a long unimpressed look. "Female fertility is fragile. Stress can cause even a natural woman to stop ovulating. No amount of rape will work then."
Chong sighed. "What would you suggest then."
"A bit more patience and kindness. Find her a husband, or if a ceremony is too much, at least assign a single lover to her. Let her grow attached to him. When her hormones are brought to a peak with love, then she will produce children, if she is capable in the first place."
"You said that Major Elric was virile as a man," said Chong.
"He was," said Tung. "But that doesn't translate necessarily to fertility as a woman."
Chong let out a dry chuckle. "Very well, one lover then, less stress. We shall try your method out for three months, if she isn't pregnant by the end of that time, we will revert to mine." Chong leaned back against the sink. "Please continue your examination. There will be an inspection by one of the Royal Family in two days, I wish to have my findings ready by the time the Royal Personage comes.
Al clenched his thighs tight when Tung put a gloved hand on his thigh. The doctor switched back to Amestrian. "Open up, open up. I will take a peek. Short one. No hurt."
"Don't touch me," snarled Al.
"Why bother speaking in her language," asked Chong, eyebrows raised in surprise. "She understands us well enough in our own, and besides I prefer to understand what you are saying to her."
Tung snorted. "I think I could use a bit of help. Could you call the guards from outside to assist?"
Al watched as Tung did just that, savoring every second of resistance before two burly men came into the room and pulled his knees apart. With gauze the doctor improvised straps that held his legs bent up and far apart, tethering them to the bars under Al's bed.
"She looks typical. Color is good, the outer structures appear to be fine." Al watched him cover his fingers with lubricant. "Digital exam first,"
"Don't take her virginity," warned Chong.
Tung hesitated and raised an eyebrow. "The interrogators asked for that privilege."
Tung nodded. "I've performed this exam on many young women, she will still be a virgin when I'm finished."
Al hissed and tensed as the doctor's cool finger touched her sensitive flesh, slowly penetrating within. The sensation was bizarre in the extreme. He'd never in all his life felt anything like it. It felt cold and thick and painful, and yet ever so slightly pleasurable as well. That disturbing sensation was brief and disappeared as horror overtook Al's heart.
"Her nerves appear to be working," commented Chong. "Could you explore that a bit more?"
"Don't," said Al, through tightly gritted teeth.
"You asked for her to be a virgin at the end of this," reminded Tung dryly.
"I did," said Chong. "Well never mind, we can combine that experiment with the interrogation as well."
"Her cervix appears to be normal in size and placement." Al felt relief when the finger withdrew. "Her hymen is intact." Al watched him relube his finger and let out a pained grunt when Tung forced it into his anus. "Rectum feels normal for a female. No prostate gland."
Tung shed his gloves and Al sighed in relief. "She is female inside and out, congratulations."
Chong nodded, then patted Al on his thigh. "Bravely done," he said. "Your contribution to science will not be forgotten. Sleep well tonight. Tomorrow, we will measure you, and the day after that, your interrogation begins." Chong laughed and left.
When the door closed again Al looked up at Tung. "Untie my hands and turn your back."
Tung looked surprised. "What?"
"Untie my hands and turn your back for fifteen minutes. That's all I ask." Al's fear stuck in his throat like sandpaper. "Fifteen minutes. And your oath, it will still be good."
Tung stared at him for a long time, and for a second he reached out towards Al's hand. But then he merely squeezed the ball of gauze for a second, and let go. "You run, you get shot. You stay you live. My oath says do no harm. Dead is harm."
Suddenly he smiled again. "It will be fine, you see. They find you nice husband, you have babies. Happy ever after. You see. You see." Then he suddenly stood up and left the room.
The heavy metal door clanged shut.