At Fort Briggs, the invading Drachma army is being overpowered by Brigg's cannons. The Drachman Commander curses at Kimblee of betraying him since Kimblee earlier has promised that the loyal soldiers will help him in the battle. Soon after, the Drachman Commander is quickly killed by cannon fire.
Meanwhile, in Asbec, Zampano, together with an Ishbalan, is looking for Dr Marcoh. Once they reach on the hilltop and found the doctor, the Ishbalan traveller shows his true identity. Dr Marcoh also reveals that it was a trick to lure him to them. Envy tries to catch Dr Marcoh but caught in an alchemy trap with snow transmuted into ice spears. They had set special traps in the snow that detonate only for Homunculi as Envy gets attacked by more ice-related transmutations.
Envy transforms into his giant form and tries to kill Dr Marcoh with his tail. Jerso turns into his chimera form saves Dr Marcoh from the attack, while Zampano attacks Envy from his chimera form. Scar uses his decomposition technique and tries to finish Envy off. But Envy is still alive and grabs Dr Marcoh with his tongue. Envy threatens Dr Marcoh that the entire village will be wiped out as punishment for his betrayal, or the villagers will be captured and sacrificed to create the Philosopher's Stone. He also reveals that Dr Marcoh's former workers already had turned into Philosopher's Stone. Dr Marcoh admits that while he knows how to use human lives to make them into Philosopher's Stones better than anyone else, he also knows how to destroy them. Then, he uses the hidden transmutation circle on his right hand and attacks Envy's Philosopher's Stone. A giant power surge and Envy's enormous body disintegrates. A small green slug squirms from the husk and the body disintegrates to bits.
Scar suggests that May should return to Xing with the slug in the jar which can be used to save her clan. May is reluctant to leave the group. But Scar states that she should not get involved with the affairs of another country as this will hinder her from completing her clan's mission. While she is on her way home through Youswell, the residents offer her a farewell meal and accommodation. Besides feeling touched with the hospitality of the residents, Envy tries to change May's mind to return to Central City. May quickly rejects their offers and claims that she has unfinished business to settle. Envy is happy with her successful plot, which enables her to retransform herself once she gets the Philosopher's Stone at Central City.
Back at Central Command, the Fuhrer informs Lieutenant Hawkeye that he knows that she is aware of Selim's secret identity as well as his secret. Hawkeye admits she feels sad that Amestris is ruled by an artificially created family who pretended to be human while they actually look down at humans. Bradley admits that he was given everything including his son, position, subordinates and even his power but he chooses his own wife.
At the same time at Central Command, Major Alex Armstrong admits that he heard of Fort Briggs' recent victory over Drachma. Then, he whispers to Major General Olivier Armstrong that the national transmutation circle is almost complete. Olivier admits of putting Amestris's security the highest priority and is ready to defend against any threat. Lieutenant General Gardner appears and takes Olivier with him to a hidden bunker. He explains to her the three rules behind the restrictions for a State Alchemist - obeying the military, not creating gold is to prevent financial disorder, and not creating humans is to avoid for someone else to create their own army. Once he finishes explaining it, he shows her the Mannequin Soldiers.
Meanwhile, Al's group has arrived at Reole, and he recognises Rose upon arriving at the food stand. Rose asks where Ed is and Al states he isn't here today. While Al is teasing Winry when Rose admits she misses Ed, Hohenheim returns from washing the pots and noticing that Al is there.
The group joins Al and Hohenheim to work together to rebuild the town. Rose brings Winry back to her house and chats about their friendship with Ed. Rose tells Winry that she and the townspeople are grateful with Al and Ed after exposing Cornello's fraud.
Underneath Central Command, Lieutenant General Gardner is explaining to Major General Olivier Armstrong about the Mannequin Soldiers. They are to serve as immortal legion since the human souls bonded to them will make the soldiers invincible and loyal only to them. Olivier asks where they can obtain the souls, and Gardner replies that it will be from the lands they destroy or eventually will destroy since the battlefield is a great place to find human souls.
Back at Reole, Al tells Hohenheim that they come here to verify the existence of a large tunnel under the town. Al also reveals that they encountered a man who resembles Hohenheim when they were beneath Central. Hohenheim responds he might leak everything to them if he wants to know but happy that Al is trusting him. Hohenheim states it will take a long time to explain and wishes Ed to be present as well, but Al tells him that Ed has gone missing.
At North City, Darius stops at a bank and uses Ed's pocket watch to withdraw money from Ed's research funds. After he leaves, the bank manager makes a call to the military and describes Darius's appearance. Darius pays the doctor for Ed's medical expenses while Heinkel quickly notices the presence of the military. Three soldiers show up, and one of them asks the doctor if anyone else has been admitted recently. Darius pretends to be the admitted patient, but the soldier realises he was the man at the bank and holds him at gunpoint. Outside the room, Ed is returning with food. An officer named Harris doesn't recognise him as Ed is not wearing his usual red coat or has his hair in a braid. Anger being called short, Ed takes down Harris and later punches through the wall and strangles the leader. Darius is concerned with Ed's health, but he reveals that he has fully recovered now.
As they are leaving, more soldiers show up and this lead Darius and Heinkel to pretend they are taking Ed as a hostage. They escape and hijack a car with the military in pursuit. To avoid the military from catching up, Ed asks Darius to make a right turn so that he can use a transmutation to disguise their car, although they are disturbed by the appearance. Once out of town, they ask where they should be heading next as Ed is thinking whether Al is able to reunite with the group and wonder where Al would go in this situation.
In Reole, Al is stunned by the news and just knew that his father was once a slave and is a living Philosopher's Stone. Although the story sounds impossible, Al believes him. Hohenheim reveals that the Father or the man in Central City is an imitation human disguised in living flesh. Al mentions to him that they need to destroy the underground tunnel before the completion of their transmutation circle, and Hohenheim states it won't work because Pride is guarding the tunnel. However, Hohenheim reveals that there is still time because The Promised Day hasn't arrived yet.
In the meantime, Bido, who has been following the military by staying under their car, is in Central. He is looking for Greed but lost at the underground Central Command. He is running through the underground but cornered by Ling or Greed. Then, Bido realises this is Greed due to his behaviour, and surprised by Greed's new appearance. Bido tries to make Greed remember that he is his friend, but then Greed cuts through Bido's chest, stating that person was the previous Greed. Bido dies immediately, and Ling or Greed says that it is his job to guard against intruders. Ling admits that he sunk to a new low for killing his friend after a memory reaction as Greed recalls the other chimeras that served under him in Dublith. Ling admits he sunk to a new low for killing his friend and demands what these memories are. Ling tells Greed the importance of these memories and seeing him suffering points out that Greed needs to get a hold of himself.
After a while, at the Fuhrer's mansion, Mrs Bradley is suggesting what book Selim is going to read next when they hear a noise. The intruder is Ling or Greed who has killed a guard and then charges at King Bradley who guards the attack with his sword. After a series of counteroffensive attack between each other, Greed has a chance to escape through a nearby window after snapping the Fuhrer's sword.
Ed, together with Darius and Heinkel, arrives at the place he believes Al will be there. It was Colonel Mustang's damaged safehouse outside of Central. Unfortunately, Al is nowhere to be seen but suddenly greeted by the hungry Ling who is now in control of his own body again. Ed explains his situation with the two chimeras while Ling explains that Greed had gotten into a fight with the Fuhrer and abandoned the other Homunculi, allowing Ling to regain control in the monster's anguished state and wander here - to a nearby hiding place in his memory. He tells Ed that the Father plans to open the Gate during something he calls The Promised Day. The Gate's activation will likely allow Ed and Al to enter and regain their bodies. Before Ling can tell further, Greed takes back control of the body and leaves the place after claiming that the Xing prince saying too much. Ed asks if Greed will inform the others of his whereabouts, but the Homunculus reminds Ed that he is no longer welcome in that circle. Before Greed can depart, Ed asks him to join them, but Greed refuses unless he is the leader. Thinking it over for a moment, Ed agrees to his terms and declares that he, Darius and Heinkel will henceforth be Greed's henchmen.
At the Armstrong family mansion, Olivier arrives to visit her father. She suggests him to retire as family head immediately, transfer the headship to her and take an extended vacation in a foreign land. Her father remarks that he had intended to leave the family headship to Alex, but Olivier argues that her cowardly brother would only ruin the family name. When Alex enters the room at that moment, his father informs him that the two siblings are to duel here and now for the family headship. As Olivier draws her sword and Alex strips down to battle mode, Mr and Mrs Armstrong immediately pack their bags and prepare to travel to Xing with Catherine. They are clearly taking Olivier's hint that it will soon be too dangerous to remain in Amestris. Olivier ultimately wins the duel and claims the family headship - though the house has been heavily damaged by their fight. When Alex asks her why she would become a member of the corrupt Central Command, she hints to her brother that she is only a part of their plot in the name.
In Dublith, Mason ushers the impatient soldiers who are looking for Izumi Curtis' whereabouts. Suddenly receiving a phone call, he quietly greets Sig on the line by informing him that Al left a message from Hohenheim for Izumi. Hiding in the suburbs of North City, Sig relays the message - which concerns "The Promised Day" to Izumi. Izumi purposely attacks the Briggs Mountain Guard to be arrested and brought to Fort Briggs. She relays the message further to Major Miles and Captain Buccaneer, telling them it comes from Al. Buccaneer and 2nd Lieutenant Falman head to a public phone booth at the foot of the mountain and contact Lieutenant General Grumman in East City with the message. Then, he covertly slips the news to 2nd Lieutenant Rebecca Catalina and asks her to take some time off to visit her best friend Riza in the capital.
While the two women go shopping, they are commenting on the joint training exercise between Briggs and the Eastern forces has been both rescheduled and relocated to East City due to the recent exchange of fire with Drachma. Before Rebecca boards her train back to the east, she slips a small paper note into Black Hayate's collar and asks Riza to pay respects on her behalf to Jean Havoc. After she finds the note, Riza takes the hint and goes to visit Jean in the hospital. Jean remarks that he will soon be transferring to a hospital out in the eastern countryside to be near his family and Hawkeye gives him a pack of cigarettes as a parting gift. As she is leaving the room, she asks him to give her regards to the Colonel Mustang if he comes for a visit. Jean finds something interesting inside the cigarette carton. As Roy, hiding in the adjacent bed, draws the curtain away from himself, Havoc laughs that Hawkeye's remark shows rather clearly that she had known of his presence. But Roy replies that any contacts between them outside of casual encounters in Central Command would be dangerous. Jean insists the Colonel take a cigarette. And as he presents the carton to his friend, Roy notices that one of the sticks is merely a piece of paper rolled up to resemble the real ones. Exiting the hospital, Roy reads the note, which informs him that the Promised Day will occur in the spring of the coming year and the north and east will begin their joint attack when that time comes.
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Previous volume: Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 19 (Fullmetal Alchemist #19).
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 20 (Fullmetal Alchemist #20) by Hiromu Arakawa and Akira Watanabe.