|Full Synopsis: Plot Details Follow|
|Outside Laboratory 5, Alphonse is suddenly attacked by the mysterious, armor-clad figure calling himself Number 66. Meanwhile, inside, Edward stumbles upon a large hall with a large, bloodstained Five-Point Transmutation Circle on the floor. As he wonders aloud if this array was used to create Philosopher's Stones, he is answered in the affirmative by Number 48, who emerges from the shadows and declares that he is under orders to eliminate any and all who intrude upon Lab 5. Ed prepares himself for a fight by transmuting the outer plating on his automail arm into a blade and 48, impressed with the boy's alchemical skill, attacks in earnest with his sword. Edward defends himself deftly, but when he manages to land a blow on his armor-clad opponent, he recognizes that 48 gives off a familiarly hollow pitch when struck and asks the armored guard if he is actually empty inside. Responding in the affirmative again as Ed mentions that he spars frequently with someone of a similar constitution, 48 reintroduces himself as a former death row inmate - the infamous serial killer known as "Slicer". His suspicions about the lab's proximity to Central Prison seemingly confirmed, Edward begins a new inquiry and asks Slicer if he has a blood rune connecting his disembodied soul to the armor and if he knows whether other inmates were used as Philosopher's Stone ingredients. 48 answers that he doesn't know very much about the Philosopher's Stone process, but opens his empty helmet to reveal a blood rune scrawled inside and marks that Ed will win if he can destroy it.
Lt. Colonel Hughes phones Colonel Mustang from Central Command to ask about the progress with the Scar case and Roy informs him that their extensive search has yet to yield anything conclusive and that the general consensus around East City is that the man must have died. Hearing this, Maes considers lifting the Elric brothers' escorts from duty. Meanwhile, those same escorts - 2nd Lt. Ross and Sgt. Brosh are horrified to discover that their charges have snuck out of their hotel room in the dead of night and immediately head out to Lab 5.
While Ed continues his fight with 48, he suddenly feels as though his right shoulder is out of sorts and remembers that Winry had informed him that his new automail was less durable than the last. With this in mind, he attempts to end the bout quickly, but is overwhelmed by 48's skill and inexhaustible endurance. 48, declaring that the fight will soon be over, mentions that his own companion is engaging Ed's partner while they speak, prompting Edward to ask if 48's companion is of the same strength. 48 answers that 66 is strong, but not quite as strong as himself, to which Edward expresses confidence that his own "partner" will be all right, since - in all the years they've been sparring - Ed has never managed to beat him even once. Meanwhile, in coherence with Edward's statement, Alphonse persists in easily countering 66's attacks, managing to knock off his helmet and discover that his opponent is just as empty as he himself. With a dramatic flair, Number 66 declares himself to be the incarcerated and supposedly executed infamously sadistic serial killer "Barry the Chopper", only to be disappointed when Alphonse not only reveals that he, too, has a hollow armor body, but also that he grew up in a rural area and has no knowledge of famous murderers from the capital. Taking offense at Barry's assumption that he, too, is an executed criminal, Al explains that he brother saved his life by binding his soul to a suit of armor. However, having heard this, Barry suggests that Al's back story and memories are falsehoods and that his soul is a fabrication created by the alchemist calling himself Al's brother. Unable to offer undeniable proof that he has ever really human, Alphonse begins to doubt his own existence.
Inside, Edward manages to defeat 48 by cutting off his helmet and thereby disconnecting most of the armor body from the controlling rune. Restoring his arm to its original state, Edward declares that he has a few more questions for 48 to answer, but the disembodied helmet replies that the fight isn't quite over yet. Edward barely manages to escape instant death when the headless armor body rises to its feet and strikes, but is badly wounded by the attack. 48 then announces to his young opponent that, when the Slicer was finally apprehended, the authorities discovered that the killer had actually been a pair of mass-murdering brothers. The younger Slicer brother speaks up from the body and reveals that his own, independent blood rune is further down, inside the torso. Not giving Edward time to transmute another weapon, the younger Slicer charges and, helpless, Edward feels the panic of impending death. However, he notes that this feeling is familiar and remembers when he was attacked by Scar in East City. Clapping his hands together, Edward mimics Scar's style of Destruction Alchemy and blows the younger Slicer apart at the waist. Acknowledging a true defeat, the elder Slicer asks Ed to hurry up and destroy them. Edward declares that he is no murderer, but Slicer responds that only the killing of humans counts as murder. Meanwhile, Alphonse, troubled by these new questions, is having a great deal more trouble holding 66 off. Edward tells Slicer that, since he considers his brother human, he considers them human as well. Amused by this answer, the elder Slicer offers to tell the little alchemist everything he knows about the Philosopher's Stone. Unfortunately, Lust and Envy arrive at that moment and swiftly dispose of both Slicer brothers before they can disclose anything, expressing their unhappiness that 48 had almost killed one of their precious Human Sacrifices. Edward demands furiously to know who they are and what they are talking about and attempts to start a fight, but just then, his automail arm finally gives out and Envy knocks him unconscious with a heavy blow to the stomach. Lust advises the languishing boy to mark that they've spared his life and suggests to Envy that they destroy the lab to prevent Fullmetal from returning and discovering anything.
Outside, Al remembers that Edward had earlier mentioned that there was something important he wanted to discuss but had always been too afraid to bring up and wonders if what he wanted to talk about was the fact that he isn't real. Taking advantage of Al's distractedness, Barry gains the upper hand, but before he can deal a finishing blow, Ross and Brosh appear on the scene, each shooting 66 in the hand. They declare him under arrest, but just then, Lab 5 begins to fall apart. Al declares that his brother is still inside and attempts to go in after him, but as 2nd Lt. Ross holds him back, Envy bursts through a collapsing wall with Edward slung over his shoulder. He tells Al and Maria to take Edward to a hospital quickly and take better care to make sure he doesn't endanger himself like this again before disappearing into the dust. Next door in Central Prison, Solf J. Kimblee recognizes the sound of high explosives reducing a building to rubble and becomes ecstatic reminiscing about the Ishval Civil War. Tattooed upon each of his manacled hands is a Transmutation Circles. Al, Ed, Ross and Brosh escape the Lab 5 grounds.
Still on the phone with Mustang, Hughes informs his friend that, due to Scar's elimination of so many State Alchemists in Central City, Central Command is considering promoting the Flame Alchemist to a position in the capital. Mustang expresses his gladness, but Hughes warns him that his speedy climb will earn him more enemies and advises him to gain as many friends and supporters as possible.
- This episode is adapted from content in Chapter 11: The Two Guardians, Chapter 12: The Definition of Human and Chapter 13: Fullmetal Body.
- The Transmutation Circle that appears in the background of this episode's title card is the Five-Point circle discovered in Laboratory 5.
- Ed's right shoulder is, of course, actually malfunctioning due to the A-08 bolt which Winry forgot to install in Episode 6.
- Unlike in the corresponding manga chapter, Envy is shown breaking a large hole in Lab 5's wall to escape the collapsing building, likely using the significant amount of physical strength afforded him by his great, hidden mass.
- Episode 20: Soul of the Guardian (2003 series)
- Episode 21: The Red Glow (2003 series)
- Episode 22: Created Human (2003 series)
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