Remembering the incidence of his flight from the ruined Xerxes, Van Hohenheim recalls wandering through the Eastern Desert to the point of collapse and being found by Xingese traveling merchants, all the while speaking as if to several invisible people, urging them to calm down and begging for their forgiveness.
In the present, he stands in Father's lair, listing the individual names and personalities of the eight souls that the Homunculus leader has just taken into his body and explains that they are cooperating with him in order to defeat the one who took their lives. Father refuses to believe that the souls inside the Philosopher's Stone can maintain individual consciousnesses, declaring them to be merely bits of energy, but Van responds that, while speaking with each and every soul in his Stone individually nearly drove him mad, the immortal body that Father had given him allowed him all the time necessary to do so. He declares that he has done the one thing his Homunculus friend never thought to do: conversed in depth with all of the 536,329 people trapped within his body. As he speaks, the souls freshly introduced to Father's body begin moving of their own accord, forming a spearpoint that, stabs the Homunculus through the forehead. Though initially stunned, Father merely breaks the spearpoint off and attempts to regain his composure, but more points appear immediately afterward, bursting out from his mouth and throat. Father coughs up a load of black blood, but as he throws a meaningful glance at Van, the blood begins to twist and form of its own accord, slowly morphing into a humanoid body of liquid shadow that falls to the ground beside the Homunculus' deflated human shell. Opening up a large mouth full of teeth, the shadow form devours the shell and declares - as eyes similar to that inside the Gate open all over its body - that humans aren't the only ones who have evolved.
Above ground in Central Command, Captain Buccaneer and 2nd Lt. Falman's squad moves toward the compound's main gate while eliminating Mannequin Soldiers as Sig and Izumi do the same inside. Izumi spies one of the military top-brass - Brigadier General Edison - desperately trying to keep the Mannequin Soldiers as bay while lamenting that these immortal soldiers were supposed to obey him and wondering whether the "Good Gentleman" had lied to him and his comrades. Izumi deftly rescues Edison from the jaws of the homunculi, but when he gratefully offers her a position as his personal bodyguard, she shuts him up with a blow to the stomach and demands to know more about the "Good Gentleman" of whom he was just speaking. On a different floor, Briggs soldiers lead Olivier and Alex Armstrong to the Führer's executive office and asks the Major General if they will be setting up their command center within. However, noticing the large windows behind the Führer's throne, Olivier merely scoffs at the idea of a command office in a place so susceptible to sniper fire and orders that they vacate the room. Before they do so, however, Alex notices a secret passageway that appears to lead down toward the underground tunnels and wonders if this is where all the Mannequin Soldiers are coming from. Just then, Olivier receives word from the makeshift command center below that Buccaneer's team has seized the front gate and secured the tank in the courtyard, while other teams have all seized the remaining gates and the armory with little resistance and few losses. As Olivier gives orders to keep all the gates shut until every last Mannequin Soldier has been destroyed, it is declared that ninety percent of Central Command is under Briggs' control. Victory is assured.
Just then, however, the familiar voice of King Bradley comes over the wire, announcing his return. He declares that he will be moving in personally to eradicate the rebels and orders every able-bodied Central forces soldier to aid him. The Briggs soldiers inside scramble to determine from which direction the Führer will be attacking, but Bradley responds nonchalantly that his approach will come from the front, as there is no need for a king to enter his own castle from the rear. Understanding the danger of battling a Homunculus, Buccaneer orders the tank squad to pull back from the main gate, but Bradley charges and armed with only a grenade and a single sword, swiftly immobilizes the tank and kills both the driver and gunner before rushing toward the entrance. Buccaneer attempts to stop him, but is immediately dispatched and has his Crocodile automail cut to ribbons. His two biggest obstacles eliminated, Bradley marches toward the doors and orders the terrified Falman to open the compound to its master. Trembling and shedding tears, Falman apologizes to the absent Colonel Mustang and raises his gun at Führer Bradley, expressing his sorrow at not being able to meet Roy at the top. Rising to his feet, Buccaneer commends Falman's courage, but chastises him for crying in the line of duty. With the chain of his automail's saw wrapped around his left fist and anchored in his teeth, Buccaneer announces to Bradley that he can still fight. Bradley scoffs at Buccaneer and Falman, calling their courage reckless, but Greed - seated casually atop the front gate - calls down that, while such recklessness is truly idiotic, he cannot abandon such irrationally courageous people.
- The names of the souls Father took into his body are Sargens, Dozul, Kaya, Sari, Tommy, Gidarushe, Andar and Zule.
- It can be surmised that the front gate of Central Command faces southward.
- An omake at the end of Volume 24 parodies the scene in which Bradley returns, presenting the scenario of Bradley coming back to HQ after a night of drinking.