Authors: scribeoffate and artisticentropy
Pairings: Mostly Gen, later chapters (and I mean really later) hints of Ling/Ed, also vauge one sided Roy/Ed if you look really hard
Warnings: Spoilers for everything, movie, series and the manga.
Summary: AU series rewrite. Hohenheim and Dante found a way to stabilize their bodies. Now a more controlling military has gained guardianship of the Elric brothers. Can Ed and Al discover a way to put things right in a world shaped in unexpected ways by Hohenheim’s discovery?
Disclaimer: Not ours.
"Fullmetal!" the Brigadier General snapped.
Edward Elric stood straight and saluted, inwardly reminding himself of Al's predicament--one shared by nearly all of the national alchemists. He would do what he must, even if Gran's mere presence made him ill. He tried to console himself with the notion that the pompous ass didn't have any more freedom than he did, but the man just made him feel slimy, and being forced to act subservient for the sake of his brother certainly didn't help .
“You will be reporting to Youswell, to inspect the coal mine there.”
Ed clenched his teeth. To be at the beck and call of the military had never been one of his goals, but choices like that had been stolen away from him when they'd been taken into the government's guardianship.
He'd hoped for some more time to spend with his brother, they usually left him to his own devices between missions, and there was a movie Al had mentioned wanting to see if he could get away from the lab. Between his new assignment with the Flame Alchemist and Al's research position, they'd not spent more than a handful of hours together in weeks.
He carefully hid his anger and frustration behind the blank mask he was learning to wear; Mustang was teaching him more than fire alchemy, after all, and when he knew he could control his response he spoke.
“Yes, sir.” He accepted the orders and case file from Gran's hands and managed to offer the bastard a salute, though he had to grit his teeth so the words might have sounded a bit odd.
“Very good, I will expect you to depart first thing tomorrow morning.”
Ed blinked in surprise and told himself he would not feel rewarded. Gran was rewarding him though, or at least whoever was controlling Gran was rewarding him. He behaved, accepted his mission calmly, and they gave him more time to spend with his brother. He was certain that if he'd attempted to refuse, or whined about the assignment he'd be on a train at this moment. That's what usually happened, anyway. Maybe Mustang had a point about playing things close to the vest. It wasn't very cathartic to smile and nod like a good dog, but at least this way, he got to spend more time with Al.
“Of course, sir,” he answered, after a moment. He decided against thanking the Brigadier General, even if it changed his mind about Ed's time of departure. Even if he couldn't help but feel thankful that the military was rewarding him, that didn't mean he had to show it. If it weren't for them, he could see his brother *every* night, and his mother, and maybe even his father too.
Gran smiled him. “You really are growing up, Edward,” he mused. “Well, dismissed, son. Do tell your brother I said hello, and tell Lt. Colonel Hawkeye, and your teacher that I can see them now. They should be waiting in the hall .”
Ed buried the desire to snarl, and maybe fling himself at Gran with his arm conveniently turned into a blade. Instead he saluted again and left the room with the smart little snap to his heels that the brass seemed to like so much. He strode briskly down the corridors, at least outwardly resembling the good soldier the military wanted him to be, pausing only to tell Mustang and Hawkeye that the general was ready for them.
Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang stood in front of General Gran, similarly ranked, Riza Hawkeye at his side. They both stood straight, saluting the General.
“At ease,” he said after a moment, and they lowered their hands. Roy made certain to make his supposed disdain for his fellow Lieutenant Colonel clear in subtle shifts of his expression. Their carefully crafted charade of mutual dislike was vital to their plans.
“It seems,” the General said after a moment's pause. “That you were both up for promotion.”
Roy glanced at Hawkeye out of the corner of his eye, she stared straight ahead ever the proper soldier.
“Colonel Hawkeye, you will be transferring to East City. Please prepare for your departure.”
Roy cast a perfect sideways glare at Riza then schooled his expression and, faced Gran who merely smiled.
“It seems, unfortunately, Lieutenant Colonel Mustang, that your talents will still be needed in Central. And since I could only promote one of you...”
'And only one of you is in the military by choice,' the unspoken words helped Roy keep his “angry”facade from falling apart. It would never do for Gran to know that he hadn't wanted the promotion. He saluted the General and Hawkeye rigidly before leaving the room, walking stiffly. He managed to keep the smirk off of his face until he reached the Alchemist's Quarters.
“Brother!”Al carefully, carefully stepped away from the experiment he'd been setting up and ran to give Ed a hug. Ed smiled at him and returned the gesture, but he could tell his older brother was distracted.
“What's wrong? Wait, wait, I only have to finish setting up one more element, we aren't running this one until tomorrow. It should only take a few minutes, and then we can go somewhere and talk about it.” Al smiled, trying to keep things light hearted. It was about the only thing he could do for his brother.
“Ah, okay. Can I help?”
“No! I--I mean, its just, you do enough. It won't take me long,” Al was pretty certain Ed wouldn't be pleased to see that they were experimenting with creating human chimeras again. The last time had been somewhat traumatic for his older brother, and everyone else involved really--even the brass. Al finished setting the arrays and turned to leave, staring straight into his brother's glaring eyes.
“Al, tell me that array isn't what I think it is,” Ed was snarling, his perceptive gaze darting back to the familiar lines and symbols laid out around them.
“It isn't what you think it is,” Al answered, eyes hugely innocent and voice purposefully bland.
Ed kept glaring. Al hung up his lab coat and grabbed his brother's arm. “Come on, let's go get something to eat,” Persuaded by the promise of food Ed allowed Al to lead him out of Lab Five and towards the Mess Hall; it wasn't like he could do anything about it anyway.
Ed glared as Al accepted a frothing red vial with his meal, a multitude of similar vials stamped with the fuhrer's seal lined up in neat rows on trays next to the registers . So it was that time again. There was a reason they had to eat on the base, and couldn't say, hit up a random restaurant in Central at this time of the month. Well, there were several reasons--but, today, that vial was the main one--and it was the only reason Ed bothered to maintain any measure decorum around those military bastards.
Al gave him a look. Ed stared back. He knew his brother's reliance on the Elixir was not Al's fault, it was his own. He would do whatever he had to do to protect him and find some way for Al to live without regular doses of the medicine. It was the only reason he did the military's bidding.
Al continued to stare at Ed as he primed the vial and injected it into his system. All around him, other state alchemist's were doing the same. Ed found himself infinitely glad that he didn't need it, though even with his hatred of needles, he would have traded places with Al in a second. After disposing of the vial they sat down, and Ed scarfed the food as quickly as usual, routine having dulled the horror of watching his little brother and the other alchemists in the room go through the familiar process--for a while he'd always skipped meals on medication day.
"Eating at that rate, it's a surprise you don't grow in at least one direction, Fullmetal.” Ed didn't repress his reaction this time, he leapt at the speaker, screaming incoherently about being called short. He wasn't short, and it was safe to scream at Roy.
Flame was a comfort. Flame never punished Al for Ed's 'insubordination'. He never threatened Al to try and push Ed into attempting the impossible or accomplishing the improbable. He never expected Ed to feel grateful to have been “taken in” by the military. His interaction with Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang felt almost normal--he could very nearly be himself, sometimes.
Flame smirked at him and snapped his fingers. Ed growled as he dodged, clapped his hands, and a rain cloud formed over his superior's head. He'd learned water alchemy after his initial training, and before being transferred to Roy's tutelage.
He'd show that bastard. He'd show him who was so short his plate of food was taller than he was! Ed cackled evilly.
“Now, now, Ed. I hear you have a mission in the morning, maybe you should spend your time more productively, and get a step-up on that report, or spend time with Al. As much as I wouldn't mind another lesson tonight, you aren't “up” to it so soon. Weren't you just complaining about not seeing your brother enough the whole time we were training last week?”
The line of flame Roy created fizzled and steam began emanating from Ed's cloud.
“How do you always know EVERYTHING?” Ed threw his hands up and Roy felt a small drop of water land on his nose.
He kept expression number 3 (smugly amused by incompetent subordinate), while surreptitiously tilting his hands a bit to try and keep his fingers dry. He'd riled Edward enough for the moment--let the kid get out some of his aggression at Gran. No need to get his gloves drenched--his backup pair were itchy and he could never manage that drying array without going a bit overboard.
“Maybe I'll teach you someday, but not today.” Mustang glanced at his own vial, set on his tray beside a shapeless gray mass of “vegetables”, with obvious distaste.
“Catch you later, kid.” The Flame Alchemist wandered away, features characteristically blank, very much as if he weren't in a hurry to get away from the mini-hurricane brewing over his meticulously styled head.
“I'm not a kid!” Ed called after him, allowing the hydrogen and oxygen
molecules in the air to return to what they were doing before his impromptu tiff with the Lt. Colonel. Al was looking at him again, and he had that damned “kicked puppy” expression on his face.
“Mission?”he asked. “Is that what you wanted to talk about?” Al was only halfway through his dinner, being a bit less voracious of an eater.
Ed scratched the back of his head. “Ah yeah...seems I leave for Youswell tomorrow.”
“But you just got back!”
“I know, I know. But well. At least we'll be together tonight.”
Al stared at him, bronze eyes wide. “I suppose we don't have a choice.”
Ed looked deliberately towards the table where Mustang was injecting himself from another of the disgusting little vials. “I suppose we don't.”
Al laughed as he opened the door to the room they shared when they were both in Central, the room that was usually his alone. The movie they had gone to see had been funny, and Ed was doing a rather amusing impersonation of the main character with his typical wild flailing. It had been nice to spend a few hours away from the military doing things that normal kids could do. It was almost like he imagined his life would have been like, if things hadn't fallen apart when they did.
“We got a letter from Mom today,” Al said, reminded by the opened envelope left sitting on the table by the door where they usually set their keys. His older brother turned serious rather quickly.
“How is she? Where is it? Let me see! Has she heard from the Bastard yet?”
Al grinned and handed Ed the letter. His brother read it quickly, seemingonly to glance at it, and then handed it back.
“I'm glad she's feeling well,” Ed said quietly; his earlier exuberance gone.
“Me too.” Al paused. “Brother?”
“Be careful tomorrow, okay?”
Careful, Ed thought stepping onto the empty train. Yeah, he'd be careful. He had to come back alive for Al. He glanced around, excitement welling within him, the train looked completely empty. He walked up and down the car as it started moving, just to be sure.
He bee lined to the bathroom compartment and shed his military uniform as quickly as possible and let down his hair from the stupid clip they made him wear it in to keep it up off of his neck. This whole procedure was frequently difficult to do when there were numerous passengers, but the ease of changing wasn't what was making his heart pump wildly. No, if no one was here, he'd get to do *it*.
His fingers flew as he hurriedly fashioned a quick braid into his hair. He grinned, finished changing, and stuffed his crappy uniform back into his battered suitcase. His smile was sharp enough to slice bread as he took a seat by the window.
The conductor came by, took his ticket and made some small talk about how traveling by oneself could be very boring. Ed gave the man points for not saying anything about his age and handed over his ticket. Heh, this trip was starting out pretty great! The conductor raised an eyebrow, as it was obviously military issue, but said nothing. Ed really liked this guy. The conductor punched it, handed it back, and left him alone. Ed felt like his heart would rip itself out of his chest he was so excited.
Gleefully he reached into his bags and pulled out the implements he would need. It had started as a way to get used to, and exercise, his automail fingers--improving their dexterity as his nerves adjusted, then, it had turned into an addiction. His own deep, dark secret. No one could ever know. Not even his beloved little brother.
He'd chosen pink yarn for this project, certain Winry would like it. The sweater he was making hung half finished off his needles, and he started rabidly in on his knitting. He did color a bit at the thought of what Mustang might say if he knew exactly how he passed time on train rides, but his fingers kept a steady rhythm. Roy could go hang himself. It's not like he cared what that jackass though about him.
Ed hadn't quite finished the second arm when the train pulled to a stop. He replaced his project in his suitcase, carefully stored in an unobtrusive looking bag, buried underneath his underwear and disembarked from the train.
Youswell was very...quiet. There didn't seem to be anyone around. He imagined Al beside him, they could make snide comments together. It'd be more interesting. Still, he had a job to do. He grimaced and started toward a building. He ducked as some random kid came barreling through with a large steel beam. Huh, that had been close. Where the hell had that brat come from? He could hurt somebody with that thing! Wait a second...
“Hey!” he called. “Careful with that!”
“Sorry!” the kid called. “Hey! Who are you? Are you a tourist?”
Ed thought about that. It wouldn't do for them to know he was a Military Inspector quite yet. His mission was to gather information about the state of the mine and its workers, he'd learned that inspections were more easily carried out when no one knew he was inspecting, and with times like they were, it wasn't uncommon to get a bad reception from people who found out he worked for the state. “Yeah. Think I got off on the wrong stop. This Youswell?”
“The one and only. Hey Dad,” the kid called to one of a group of adults working a little distance away. “Tourist! Big Spender!”
“Alright!” The adult called back, his face lighting up with excitement. “Name's Halling. You'll be staying at our Inn then, right?” The man grinned at him. Ed grinned back, a little perturbed by the “big spender” comment, but hey, it was on the Fuhrer's tab, what did he care?
The inn, Ed realized was everything that the town hadn't been when he'd first arrived. It was warm, inviting and full of people. People who were talking, laughing, joking, and complaining. There was a lot of complaining. He concentrated on the plate of food Halling had provided him and listened to those complaints. It seemed the military man posted at this mine was abusing his power in typical money-grubbing-less-suited-for-his-rank-t
“So what brings you here anyways, kid? Business or pleasure?” Halling was grinning at him.
“Ah, this and that, really,” Ed responded. “Nothing that'd interest you, I'm sure.”
“Hah! It's so boring around here, anything would interest us.”
I'm sure, Ed thought. “Hey, you gotta bathroom round here?”
“Sure, that way,” Halling jerked a finger toward the back of the inn. Ed thanked him, and went in the direction he'd pointed, toting his suitcase with him.
He estimated that this Lieutenant Yoki would be making an appearance soon, and needed to change. It would be better if he surprised everyone, so that the obviously volatile military man didn't feel inclined to take out his anger on the townspeople. These toadying types liked to kiss up to high ranking officials, and National Alchemists “reported directly to the Fuhrer” Ha!
He ran his hands over the uniform as he pulled it out. He hated it. The uniform represented the institution that owned his brother, and through that ownership, him. He shook his head, he had a job to do, even if he didn't particularly feel like doing it. And maybe, he could find a way to make life better for the townspeople. That would irritate the men that held his leash, and they wouldn't be able to do anything about it as long as he actually inspected the coal mine while he was here.
Lieutenant Yoki walked arrogantly into the town. The villagers were being very lax again. It was simply unthinkable that they not show him his proper respect, and his proper payment. They were quite late with their taxes, and he was being forced to actually mingle among them to claim his due. He wrinkled his nose and accepted the handkerchief that Lyra handed him. Yes, it did smell rather rank in their quaint little “town”. He pulled it to his face gratefully; that was a mite better.
He walked into the inn, and the smell doubled. Ugh...the scent of the common man was almost more than he could bear. He could almost feel the grime and sweat of the beasts clinging to his pores. He clutched the handkerchief more closely to his face.
Ungrateful cretins, they shouldn't even need the warning to move away from his path. He tilted his nose further up, the stench was unfathomable, and he was sure coal dust was settling all over his crisp uniform.
“Lieutenant Yoki, you should cover your face more often!” one of the miners laughed at him. He sneered. This beastly man was not even worth the dirt accumulating on his boots.
“The taxes on this place are overdue,” he informed the man. Holli? Something. It didn't matter. He was just some coal miner, and a poor one at that, if he needed to keep two jobs. Yoki glared, now they were whining about wages. What did wages have to do with it? The taxes were due either way. If they would just pull their own weight, they'd be paid appropriately, but they were all rather lazy. That wasn't his fault.
“Well, don't blame me when you have to grease the wheels,” Yoki told one of them who was getting particularly uppity. Seriously, as though he had created the complex system of barter that existed in the world Something wet hit his face, he twitched. A wet rag! Simply swimming in their filth! How horrible! Just when he thought he was getting through to them. Thick-skulled barbarians! Well, he'd tried to be merciful, there was nothing for it now.
“I'd heard this was becoming a hot spot for ruffians and thieves,”said, pulling the cloth from his face, looking for the one that had thrown it. “I may have to shut it down.” Ah, that little spawn of a rabble-rouser who owned this horrible establishment! Bad blood bred true. He nodded at his subordinate, “don't kill him. I just want to teach them a lesson.” His man grinned and grabbed the little pest to throw across the room.
“That will be enough,”Yoki glanced toward the voice that would dare tell his man to stand down. And then winced, and saluted reluctantly, mirroring the reaction of his men.
The man in the uniform was short, and young, but he was unmistakably a State Alchemist. State Alchemists were quite literally the slaves of the military, but they still outranked him. And due to their particular circumstances tended to be unflinchingly loyal to the state that they served. If they said a thing, people tended to listen--many even had the direct ear of the Fuhrer, himself!
Yoki had an inspirational moment. He would butter this State Alchemist up and use him to get out of this filthy mining town for good. “Ah, mister...” Yoki smiled his best smile, he would dazzle this young man with the courtesy and hospitality he would never have received the from the local riff-raff.
“Elric, Major Edward Elric,”he said, looking very serious, his voice perfectly modulated and his stance precise.
“Ah, well, Major Elric, please, please come to my mansion. I hope you haven't been forced to mingle with these commoners for too long. We can discuss the reason you are here...” he assumed they'd sent him to inspect the mine. Despite his age he looked comfortable with his rank and obviously knew his authority.
“Of course, *Lieutenant*.”
The kid made it sound like such an insult. Yoki very nearly admired his arrogance. He smiled. This State Alchemist was the answer to all his prayers, his once- in- a- lifetime chance. He could do what he needed to.
Ed glanced cursorily at the dinner Yoki had provided. It was certainly far finer fare than had been provided by Halling's inn. He wondered aloud how Yoki managed to eat so well, when the town's economy seemed so depressed.
Yoki spouted drivel back to him, which he ignored. He knew what was going on here. He just wasn't sure what he was going to do about it quite yet. Oh, he had some ideas, he ran through a few of them as he finally took a bite of steak. He was just making certain Yoki was as villainous a character as the townspeople made him out to be. Frequently, rumors were just that, rumors.
The second meal was merely a bonus. One he needed when he recalled the shocked and betrayed catcalls of the men from the inn as he'd left in slimy Yoki's company.
“So, I'd like you to accept this token,” Yoki was saying. Ed glanced at the bag of gold that was placed beside him.
He swallowed a drink of wine, and after a moment's pause to wonder which expression Mustang would use coach him to use to get the most of this situation, allowed himself a slight smirk. A bribe?
That's such an ugly word, let us call it a gift from me to you. Ed grimaced. Yeah. Yoki was pretty bad. Come on, who said shit like that?
"Of course there is the matter of your inspection..."
"Yeah, I get it," Ed said.
“I knew you would,”Yoki's slimy smile was really putting Ed off his meal. Yeah, he'd have to find some way to dislodge this guy. He tried for another bite of steak.
"I'm sure the townspeople will be giving us less trouble, soon."
Ed swallowed quickly. That was a threat if he'd ever heard one. What did the Lieutenant have planned? He'd have to find out. He'd kind of gotten to like that Halling guy and his son kind of reminded him of Winry with the way he carried around heavy metal things without regard to who he might smack in the head with them.
Weell, Ed made a show of yawning. "I think I'd like to take an after dinner walk. Maybe catch the show you're hinting at," he smirked at Yoki, as though he approved of such things. He was starting to feel a bit slimy, himself, just from proximity.
"Ah. Well, don't let me stop you from your pleasure, Major Elric," Yoki smiled knowingly at him with an exaggerated wink. Ed returned the smile without rolling his eyes. Lieutenant Colonel Shit would be so proud! (Ha! As if he cared!)He walked pleasantly out of the front door of Yoki's mansion, aware that he couldn't run.
He strolled leisurely into the town and noted Lyra, the young alchemist who'd been with Yoki before standing in front of Halling's inn.
He tapped her by the shoulder, breaking her concentration. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"Teaching the townspeople a lesson. It's on Lieutenant Yoki's orders. It is for the good of the state. Surely as a State Alchemist, you understand. It is my dream to one day join the ranks of the National Alchemists." She looked at him earnestly, and he felt a swell of disgust. Who would want to be involved with the military?
Especially as an alchemist? But she didn't know about the red stones or the Elixir. Even without that shit he couldn't really see the appeal to military life.
“Why? Why are you acting on Yoki's orders? You are under no obligation to do so.” He wanted to shake her, or something.
“I told you. I want to be a State Alchemist.”
Ed snorted. Well, it was her grave. “If you don't destroy this inn, Lyra,I'll give you a recommendation, I'll sponsor you, tell them all about you. I'm certain they'll let you join up. Help me here, and I'll help you.”
He refused to feel guilty about this, they'd probably order him to recruit her later, anyways. He was just saving them a bit of work. Besides, she was almost as slimy as Yoki, at least he could think for himself. Governmental enslavement couldn't happen to a more deserving morally bankrupt sheep-girl.
It's not like they'd be impressed with her one-trick pony, anyway. It was so obvious she was just manipulating the molecules in the air to create a sonic boom with that stupid array on he necklace. She probably didn't even draw it herself. The flashy light from the reaction that would have occurred, and the impressive noise probably appealed to her snobbish nature. Heh. Amateur. No subtlety at all.
“My word, Lyra. Just leave Youswell and Lieutenant Yoki to me,”Ed fingered the gold he was given earlier mischievously. “Then you come back to Central with me, and I'll sign you up.”
“Very well. Shall I wait for you at the train station in the morning?”
“Yeah, that'll work.” Ed watched carefully as Lyra walked away. In fact, he was watching her so much, that he barely noticed the small form barreling out of the inn.
“You! Aren't you an alchemist? Can't you make some gold so that things would be better, or are you just a greedy, selfish bastard like the rest of the military dogs? ”
“Doesn't work like that, kid,” Ed said, still fingering the gold. Yeah, that really might work. “Alchemy requires equivalent exchange and transmuting gold is a crime.” He didn't add that it was a crime that would get his brother punished too. The brat didn't need to know about all that.
“Some alchemist. You could help us and you won't! You've sold your soul for some piece of crap pocket watch!”
“Even if I did, it'd just get taken away in taxes. Go back to your Dad, kid. I can't do anything to help you. And if I could, who's to say I would? Like you said, I'm just a dog.” Ed walked away, still jingling the gold. Yeah, that would definitely work. He smirked toothily.
Yoki glanced up. “Was it accomplished?” Lyra simply nodded at him.
“Well, I think I'll go see.”
“That isn't necessary sir, and you have a visitor.”
“Well, Major Elric has returned. He asked to see you immediately, sir.”
Ah. Well, do send him in,” Yoki put on his most ingratiating smile. He needed to be in this kid's good graces. He could do it, he was pretty sure he had the boy pegged. He wouldn't have gotten this far without being an impeccable judge of character, after all.
“Ah, Lieutenant Yoki,”the boy was grinning rather madly. “I'd like to buy the coal mine. And all of Youswell, really.”
“You what?” Yoki just stared. Maybe he didn't have this kid quite so figured out. Maybe he was a bit insane? How was he supposed to deal with a mad Nationally certified alchemist? Well.. wait...
“Turns out, the mines are full of valuable alchemic resources These could be essential to our research.”
Ah. Yes, the mines were full of untapped value. Well that would explain it. There was always an explanation, when someone wanted something enough to pay for it.
“I'm sorry, Major Elric, but the mines were entrusted to me. Surely you can see where I'm coming from. They aren't for sale.”
“Oh,” Yoki's interest was piqued when he noticed that the kid didn't seem the least bit disappointed by his reaction.
“Well, then I'd have had lugged all this up here for nothing,” Ed opened the door behind him in an exaggeratedly casual manner.
Piles, upon piles, upon piles of gleaming gold sat heavily upon his doorstep. He could bribe enough officials to get away from this town with this much gold. He could bribe his way clear back to Central with this much gold! He'd never be relegated to another dirty, backwater existence again. The money, the power, the prestige! He could taste it! Oh, to be back among the civilized! To have some culture! But...
“Well...I can't precisely sell it to you...” Yoki wanted to. Oh how he
wanted to. “It just wouldn't look...” He could never explain it to the authorities...
The diminutive brat waved his left hand dismissively, his crisp white gloves which he had never taken off, even when he ate, flashing,
“I've got it, how about you write me a note, saying that you give Youswell to me, free of charge. Then you take the gold as an unrelated gift. And no one is the wiser.”
Brilliant This boy was absolutely brilliant! That way, he'd just be giving over his post to a commanding officer! No one could fault him for that! “Of course,” Yoki wrote the note, hands shaking with excitement as visions of plays, and restaurants, and people who didn't smell danced through his head. He handed the deed to the kid without a second thought.
He held happily onto his gold. His beautiful precious gold. He was still leaning happily against it when it turned into stone. Yoki's mouth dropped open. No! It couldn't be! How?! He dug frantically through the pile of rock scraps, looking for a trace of the precious element. There was none. It was GONE! Oh gods, his CAREER!!
That brat! Yoki fumed. “Lyra ” he called. Oh damn, oh damn...gotta calm down. Think rationally. Oh, Elric was going to pay for this one.
Ed sauntered into the inn like--well--like he owned the place. The men were sitting around, still complaining, but not doing much more. He was glad he'd staved off the earlier, potential destruction. He could easily imagine these men doing more than complaining.
In fact, some of the men already had an air about them, as though they were planning something. Unfortunately, by the way they were starting to stand up and reach for their tools, what they were likely planning was violence, and he was the only military official in sight. Better head this off.
“Is Halling around?” he asked.
“Oh is the mighty State Alchemist back?” one of the men shouted. “Need a cloth for your nose?” He reached for the bar rag.
“Yeah! We don't want your kind here!” another answered.
“Huh. Is that a nice way to treat the new owner of Youswell?” Ed held the deed out in his hand and the men's reactions went from openly hostile, to confused and angrily bewildered.
“He's in the back,” one of them said finally, “What do you mean? That's the deed for Youswell?!” Ed smiled, and sauntered in the appointed direction.
“Halling,” Ed called, searching around for the man. He found him in far back, engaged in conversation with two others. The conversation fell to a hush as he walked in, the crowd from the front squeezing in behind him. It seemed at least some of the miners were actually planning. Well, that was good. They needed men who knew how to plot and be discreet about it. They'd need to talk about directing possible enemies towards their leaders meeting places, but eh, you work with what you've got.
“What is it? And why didn't you tell us who you were?” Halling was glaring at him, his fist clenched in the papers he's had strewn in front of him, hiding them from view. Well, that showed potential, at least.
“I have something you might be interested in, but unfortunately, it comes at a price. I wish there was some other way, believe me. But I--we need your help.”
Ed was eating, again, when the Lieutenant came barreling into Halling's inn. He smirked as the man started shouting and saying some utter crap about an immense amount of gold. Wonder where he got that delusion from? Heh.
“What gold? Seems you gave the deed to me, free of charge. At least, that's what this note says,” Ed grinned at the note he was holding in his hand. Yoki's face went from rage filled purple, to fish belly-white. Looked like he'd forgotten about the note.
“You'll pay for this Elric!” Yoki shouted. “Lyra!”
Lyra looked at him, and then walked over to Ed. “When do we leave sir?”
Ed smirked again. “First thing in the morning.” He looked back up at Yoki. “Seems Lyra found herself a sponsor. She's going to be a State Alchemist after all. Also, it seems you've been very neglectful of your post! What kind of official gives his post away? You are out of my jurisdiction, Lieutenant, but I'll be recommending that you be dishonorably discharged, or demoted, at the very least!”
Yoki spluttered. “Men!” Yoki stared, him and his men were all quite surrounded. Surrounded by very large coal-mining workers. Mining, while making one rather smelly, seemed to have rather beneficial effects on one's physique. It also seemed to give one some sort of penchant for swinging around heavy pointed metal objects. Oh dear.
“We're going to do to you physically what you've been doing to us
financially for years!” One of them men shouted.
“Yeah, never underestimate the strength of a mining man,”another answered.
Ed couldn't really find any sympathy for Yoki and his lackeys as the mining men got a little bit of their revenge. He arranged rooms for Lyra and himself and went to write his report.
Roy glanced around. He'd been glancing for a while, there was no one else around. He let his gaze convey fondness for just a moment, since no one was looking.
Colonel Hawkeye almost smiled at him. Roy smirked. That was closer than anyone else had ever gotten. No one could resist the Mustang charm forever. Even Fullmetal occasionally seemed to be warming up to him. If this scheme didn't write his name into the history books, maybe he could be put down for something else? He smirked roguishly.
“So have you heard,” he said conversationally, bridging his hands in front of his face, aware that she would take the signal that the information he was about to impart was important. “It seems that after the incident at Youswell, they are rearranging personnel in the East. Seems Ed going there is going to make your job a lot easier.”
Hawkeye stared at him, one eyebrow raised. Roy cataloged it as number 4 of Riza's 6 facial expressions (“You can't possibly be as smart/powerful/mysterious/irresistible/a
Roy just smiled and let her draw her own conclusions about that. “It also seems we've made allies in Youswell, Hawkeye.” He smiled and walked away.