Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ It is What it is ❯ Prologue ( Chapter 1 )
"Colonel Mustang, I need you to investigate a town around South City called Kreta. Maybe you've heard of it?" General Hakuro's voice said on the other end of the telephone. Roy didn't know what to think when hearing the orders at first. He had been there before, back when he was still a major and it wasn't a bad place at all.
"Yes, I have. What about it, sir?" He inquired.
"I see. Then that makes you the perfect candidate." Hakuro commented.
"Candidate?" Roy didn't particularly know if he liked the sound of that, especially coming from him.
"There are rumors spreading about Kreta conspiring against the military. There are even claims that point at the possibility of weapons of mass destruction... It's your job to get to the bottom of this matter. And even if those rumors end up being false, I still want a full week report on everything the town offers, alongside the overall finances, the people at large and other such things. A sort of maintenance report, if you will. But go in civilian clothing, it would bring too much unwanted suspicion to you if you went there in uniform, especially in the case that the rumors are not unfounded. Keep alchemy to a minimal as well, and make sure you use an alias. Got that, Colonel?"
"Understood, sir. I'll be on it right away." Roy said, even though he was pretty sure that the rumors led back to rants that got terribly distorted out of proportion. Perhaps, somebody had become a little too verbal with their feelings for some higher up's comfort level, so he himself had been sent to eradicate the supposed threat if need be.
However, Roy knew that people's frustrations towards the military for taking and destroying homes, and other such things were anything but unfounded. Most people had reasonable motives to detest the government.
Whatever the source of these rumors were, it must've really struck the nerve of somebody. Run an overly oppressive system and you're going to get protestors and a lot of people who disagree with both you and your logic. That's just how it works.
But Roy, of course, didn't dare point that out.
"Very well. I'll leave it to you then, Colonel."
"Oh, by the way, you better not dissapoint me. No repeat of Wisteria*, is that clear?" Hakuro added, an edge to his voice. (*reference to the town in The Valley of White Petals, the 3rd FMA novel.)
Roy inwardly flinched at the warning. Wisteria had been a town that Hakuro had ordered him to do a report on before. But Roy typically wasn't the type to do things like that himself, alongside the fact that he'd been held back with not only paperwork, but also people storming into his office and nagging at him right and left. He knew he couldn't get a moment's peace, not to mention he had no men available, so instead he'd requested Edward to do it for him since it wasn't too far out of his current way. (by requested, he, of course, meant threatening to cut off the boy's bank account and blackmailing him into going to the town to do the report for him). In the end, however, Edward had just shirked it back off onto him and led him to getting his head chewed out by Hakuro for lack of an actual report. (all Edward had wrote on the supposed report was "Regarding Wisteria, please look forward to a full report, coming soon!")
Of course, Roy had chewed Edward out for that.
He forced himself to smile. "I wouldn't dream of it, General."
"You better keep that stance." Hakuro said, before hanging up, leaving Roy scowling. However the bitter expression was quickly replaced with one of fond remniscense.
Riza, who had been standing at his side the whole time, took a moment to observe him, before speaking up. "Judging by your facial expression, I assume you enjoyed your time in Kreta, sir?"
While she hadn't heard everything, she'd caught most of it.
Roy glanced over his shoulder up at his Lieutenant, who, while expressionless as always, had carried the tone of somebody genuinely interested.
He gave a small smile of fondness. "Yeah, there were some really nice people there. Back when I was a major, the place seemed kind of like a vacation to me."
"Do you intend to investigate Kreta yourself?" Riza wanted to know. She wasn't over bearing about how Roy finished his work as long as it got done.
"Probably." Roy admitted. Had it been anywhere else, he would have definitely just got one of his men to do it for him, regardless of what he told Hakuro, but the thought of going back to Kreta was actually appealing to him. Besides, it was much more enticing than messing with the mountain high stacks of paperwork on his desk that just kept getting taller. "Well, since it's orders, it's not like I really have a choice. I'd rather avoid getting my head chewed off by General Hakuro again at all costs."
However, Riza wasn't stupid. She recognized the look on his face. It was the look of him graciously using a mission as a excuse to avoid his paperwork. That's when she got an idea.
"Then perhaps I might make a suggestion, sir." She said, instead of saying she knew his true motives.
"What is it?" Roy inquired, curious as to her thoughts.
"I think you should take Major Elric with you." Riza said without hesitation.
"Fullmetal?" Roy's eyes widened ever so slightly. "Why?"
He didn't particularly like the prospect of bringing the teen along, but he also knew that Riza usually wasn't the type to come up with a suggestion without a good reasoning, so he decided to hear her out.
"As a Colonel, you have a responsibility to the welfare of your men, but, with all due respect, sir, I think you should also try to build a stronger connection to them, so you will always have people who will support you for more than just your rank in the end." Riza told him. In reality, there were more reasons than just that. She had noticed the occasional depressed looks on Edward's face in the cafeteria, when he seemed to think nobody was paying him any direct attention and she knew that something was wrong. If anything, the boy needed to get away for a little while and just relax.
"...You know," Roy gave a forlorn smile. "Hughes used to basically tell me the same thing."
Out of all of his men, Edward was arguably the one who hated him the most. Remembering Edward storming out of his office almost a week before, he couldn't help but ponder it, and feel the slightest pang of guilt. Even if he didn't want to admit it, he knew he was too harsh on the kid at times, considering his age. It was only because of Riza and, in the past, Hughes, who kept him straight, that he could see that he was undeniably in the wrong in those times.
Edward had never particularly liked him, and only seemed to hate him more each time they met. They butted heads a lot, and he wasn't particularly proud of it, but he doubted that trying to 'build a connection' with him would help at all. If anything, it was liable to have the total opposite effect and just make everything worse for both parties.
All that aside, there was also Alphonse, who'd built quite the reputation.
"I suppose walking around with a child would make me appear less suspicious. But what about his brother? As much as I like the kid, he's bound to draw suspicion and stand out too much, isn't he? With the reputation that Fullmetal and him have built up, it's very likely that somebody would probably recognize that Edward was from the military, just because there was a large suit of armor standing next to him..."
"You can leave that to me, sir." Riza said as if she had a plan, but offered him no explanation. "Also, if I may, I think it would be better this way, because Alphonse can't always be there to keep things cordial between you two. And since you're wanting to use this trip as an excuse to go off for a week instead of doing your paperwork, you should at least try to work out some of your differences with him while you're there."
"You're sharp." Roy noted, before looking at her with a more serious expression. "But if you don't mind, I'm going to ask that you come along in case I need backup."
"Understood." She said. Of course she knew he wasn't just referring to conspirists.
- End of Prologue