The rattling sound of the metal wheels of the train filled the cars inside and the rustling of papers could be heard within one set of seats near the back of the last train car. Inside of that pair of seats was a massive suit of armor and a blond male who wore his hair in a braid with the shorter strands covering his face. He was leaning over a file full of papers splayed out on the seat next to him, the suit of armor was sitting in the seat across from him. His golden eyes scanning the words typed up on the documents. A heavy sigh left his lips and he growled in frustration, running his white gloved hands against the back of his head.
The documents that he had been pouring and frustrating himself over was the debriefing report he had to write for Colonel Roy Mustang, his superior. The reason why it had been frustrating him was because they hadn’t found anything from their newest lead on the Philosopher’s’ Stone. That, and, there was the fact that he had asked them to rush back for an unknown reason that the Colonel hadn’t told them. Or rather he had refused to tell them and had them rush onto the nearest train just before it had left.
Alphonse couldn’t help, but rub the back of his helmet head as he watched his brother pour himself over the documents in front of him. He held up his hand. “Maybe you should take a break from that and put it away brother.” He insisted, hoping that his older brother would halt his work for the moment just long enough to take a break.
Edward gave one last growl as he heard his brother’s words and he had gathered up all the papers, putting them back in their proper place in the folder. He opened up the trunk with a flip of the two latches, slipping the folder inside for safe keeping. “I suppose you’re right. I should take a small break… no sense in getting all frustrated over this report. We’ve got a long ride back to Central.” He reasoned with himself, leaning back against the uncomfortable train seat. “I just can’t get over that it was another wild goose chase. Another fake Philosopher’s Stone.” He grumbled the last bit more to himself than to his brother.
Alphonse nodded his head slowly. “It is a shame that it was another fake Philosopher’s Stone…but it does make me curious as to what the Colonel wanted us back so quickly. We nearly missed the train again.” He said as he had returned his hand that was raised up to his lap. When Edward had finished talking to Colonel Mustang on the phone, saying that he requested their presence as soon as possible, it had raised some questions between both of the brothers. It had to be something important if the Colonel was requesting them back in Central so quickly. “I wonder what he needs us back so quickly.”
Edward shrugged his shoulders and he yanked on the red jacket that he wore, taking it off of his form and throwing it next to him on the seat. “I have no idea… But it better be good. My guess is that it is something stupid like it usually is when something like this happens.” He spurted out without thinking as he had folded his arms one over the other, crossing them at his chest and crossing one leg over the other. “I can’t wait to get this over with to move onto the next lead that he might have for us.”
Colonel Roy Mustang had a tendency to pull this kind of stunt when he wanted the Elric brothers back to report their findings while he had another waiting for them. But for whatever reason, this felt different to Alphonse. Mainly it was because of the fact that Colonel Mustang had refused to give out any details about why he had wanted them there so quickly. Something about it had just seemed different… something was off and he was admittedly a little nervous about it, maybe a little excited as well.
“I’m sure we’ll find out once and for all what he wants when we get there. You should get some sleep brother. It is a long ride back to Central.” Alphonse insisted, knowing that he could keep watch while his older brother slept on the train. He had looked out of the window of the train car and saw the sun start to set. The beautiful color of the orange hue spreading out on the horizon. As the sun lowered down the horizon, the orange hue changed into a stunning rose pink.
Edward took a glance outside at sunset and he had nodded his head slowly. “I suppose you’re right.” He said, a soft sigh slipping through his parsed lips. “Good night Al.” He had uncrossed his arms and and his legs, sliding his body on the seat so he could use it as a bed. He put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, crossing his legs in an ‘X’ shape on the seat.
Alphonse watched as his brother had slowly allowed sleep to take over his body. He had brought his gaze back over to the window like he had before he had suggested his brother to fall asleep. His mind had wandered as well, back to the subject of Colonel Mustang’s request to see them. One thought did cross his mind about that, one that he found amusing and even chuckled softly to himself. The thought that had crossed his mind was one that had involved Colonel Mustang revealing something shocking to them. Perhaps another young promising alchemist, a state alchemist, that would be around their age. Perhaps the Colonel had a secret daughter or son that they hadn’t been informed about. It was kind of fun to think about that sort of thing, but the Colonel wasn’t much of a father figure he thought. Alphonse knew that Edward would definitely think that the Colonel wasn’t likely to be a father figure to anyone. Though the Colonel did often surprise them.
The train ride seemed to pass by quickly with Edward sleeping for a couple of hours, then moving to the dining car to wolf down some food, then going back to working on looking over his report to make sure that everything was okay for the Colonel to read. Alphonse simply watched his brother work diligently even though he absolutely dreaded writing up the reports for Colonel Roy Mustang.
The train was slowing down to a stop and the conductor announced that they were approaching Central Station. Alphonse helped his brother gather up their things to get off at the station and head immediately towards Colonel Roy Mustang’s office. They boarded off of the train once it had stopped and stepped onto the station platform. Edward was carrying his trunk while his brother had followed behind. It wasn’t a horribly long walk from that train station over to the Central Command Center, but they made it as the sun was now reaching its peak point for the day which indicated that it was early afternoon.
The Elric brothers had walked up the stairs to Colonel Roy Mustang’s office and they knew that he had been there already seeing as how the door was unlocked. Edward had knocked on the door with his automail knuckles before he had opened up the door without caring if he got the ‘Come in’ from the Colonel. “We’re here.” He said as he had slipped into the office with his younger brother behind. He had walked over to one of the couches and sat down, throwing open his trunk and retrieving the file from it. He had tossed it on Colonel Mustang’s desk. “There is the debriefing. Now why did you want us here so quickly anyway?”
Alphonse had followed behind his brother and sat down next to him. “Excuse us Colonel.” He apologized for his brother’s behavior as he had waved his hands defensively in-front of himself. “We’ve been eager to find out the reason why you wanted us here on such short notice.”
Colonel Mustang had waved a single hand in front of himself as he had witnessed the usual antics of the Fullmetal Alchemist and his younger brother. He was used to the elder Elric brother’s behavior than he had cared to admit to himself. Then again, it was similar to someone else he had cared for. “Thank you Fullmetal and Alphonse for coming on such short notice. I’ll be sure to read your debriefing after we are done talking here.” He had grabbed the file that had been carelessly tossed onto his desk and set it off to the side with the rest of the paperwork he had to take care of. “There is an important reason why I asked you two here as soon as possible.” He had laced his fingers together and rested his chin on top of the back of his hands in his usual fashion.
“I called you here because I have a special assignment for you two aside from your own goal of finding the Philosopher’s Stone and using it to restore your bodies.” Roy announced as he had brought his gaze to the Elric brothers. It was just in-time as the door had opened up to his office with a short single knock, revealing a raven haired girl with distinctive red eyes. Her hair reached her shoulders and she wore a black t-shirt with the State Alchemist uniform blue pants paired with the black boots. “Colonel Mustang, you rang?” The tone that came from the girl had been light and airy as if she had been talking to a family member. She had made her way further into the room after closing the large door behind her.
She had made her way to the desk and saluted the Colonel. “At ease Dark Arm. I did call you here for a reason.” Colonel Mustang answered as he had gestured off of the empty couch. “Sit down and I’ll explain everything.”
Edward had his eyes set on the new arrival. He hadn’t recognized her in the least and she seemed to be around his age. He was curious about her red eyes because it was unusual for anyone who wasn’t Ishvalan, but maybe she was… though he wondered why the Military would have accepted her if she had been Ishvalan. Alphonse seemed to have his gaze on this mysterious female and he noticed the State Alchemist pocket watch attached to her pants, the silver chain leading into her pocket.
“You’re a State Alchemist!” Alphonse exclaimed, though a bit embarrassed that he had said that aloud like he had. He seemed to blush through his arm and he had waved his hands frantically in-front of himself. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to say it like that…”
The raven haired girl had glanced over to the two boys and she had nodded her head slowly. “Yes, I’m a State Alchemist and you’re fine.” She said nonchalantly, waving a single hand in front of herself, as if dismissing his apology and moving the subject forward.
“As I was saying, I called all of you here for a reason. But first I should introduce everyone here to one another.” Colonel Mustang wiggled into the conversation. “Edward and Alphonse Elric, meet my daughter Eli Mustang a.k.a. The Dark Arm Alchemist. Eli meet Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and his younger brother Alphonse Elric.” He introduced as he had glanced between the three. “To give you boys a little background on my daughter, she joined the State Alchemists without my permission and I want you two to look after her because she has a certain ‘condition’ of sorts. I can’t be sending her out on assignments by herself without having a set of eyes on her.”
“Daughter?! Since when did you get a daughter?!” Edward exclaimed, shocked that he had announced that this girl was his daughter and a State Alchemist nonetheless. He had blinked, confused. Though the next statement the Colonel had said triggered something inside of him and he wasn’t happy. He had bolted up from his seat and clenched his hands into fists. “I’m not going to be babysitting for you! I didn’t sign up for that! Is that really why you called us here so quickly!”
“Brother…calm down…” Alphonse said as he had wrapped his arms around his older brother and held him back from lashing out at the Colonel and possibly at Eli.
“It isn’t a babysitting gig. She is going to be helping you two out with finding the Philosopher’s Stone and in return, you are going to be keeping an eye on her for me.” Colonel Mustang explained simply as he had glanced over to his daughter. “And she is my adoptive daughter. Not blood, but we are still family so I have to look out for her…I’m sure you will sympathize with me on that regard.”
As Colonel Mustang had explained the situation, Edward had seemed to calm down from his fuming and sat down once again. “As to her ‘condition’ and why I need you to look after her. It is with her eyesight. She goes through spurts where her vision ‘blacks-out’, where her vision will go blurry before completely going blind temporarily. She has had it since I’ve known her and the frequency changes from day to day with her blackouts. She has good days and bad days.” He explained further the condition of his adoptive daughter. “I can’t keep an eye on her all the time since she has become a State Alchemist and I need eyes on her in-case she blacks-out. It can be unpredictable and it can happen in the midst of battle and I would hate for her to get seriously injured or worse.” Colonel Roy Mustang knew that he had a valid point for wanting them to work together and for the brothers to look after her. She would prove to be beneficial to their endeavour with finding the Philosopher’s Stone so it would be a win-win situation.
Eli Mustang and her adoptive father knew about the reason why she had this condition, the true reason behind it all. Hearing him explain it like he had made her look down at her lap. She had a few good days in a row where she had only gotten a blackout once throughout the day. She had taught herself how to fight during a blackout if it happened and she had gotten better at it. First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye had even taught her how to use a gun if she had a blackout, honing in her senses to get her target and not any innocent civilian targets. She worked diligently on being able to function during her blackouts. “I think they’ve heard enough Colonel. We should be going.” She intervened as she felt her eyes become blurry and sore.
This happened just before she had a blackout and she rubbed her eyes with her thumb and forefinger slightly. She blinked her eyes in hopes of it going away, but to no avail. She opened up her eyes to reveal her scarlet irises becoming cloudy and her vision was dark behind them. Eli was having another blackout and her father knew it.
Colonel Mustang had nodded his head. “Yes, I should let you three get to know one another besides what I have to say.” He leaned back in his chair, watching his daughter carefully as she had rose from the couch and walk out of his office.
Eli had waited patiently just outside of her father’s office and leaned against the free space of wall, rubbing her eyes. “…Come on… don’t do this now…” She murmured to herself with her other hand clenching into a fist. As much as she hated having this condition… she was somewhat glad that her father had explained it to the Elric brothers. She didn’t want to explain her condition to anyone she had come across if she had a blackout. Occasionally rubbing her eyes had helped her out and get past her blackout faster, but this time it wasn’t helping in the least bit. Her eyes stung and they felt cloudy, her vision was as dark as night.
“I… hate to ask this Colonel… but do you know what caused Eli’s condition?” Alphonse asked, concerned about her and how she would fare outside of the care of her father. He knew that the Colonel knew more about how to care for her condition than they had since he was trusting her in their care.
“Yes… I do. But I’ll let her explain it in her own time.” Colonel Mustang said simply as he had turned his gaze to the brothers. “It is her story to tell. Just like how you two have your own story to tell.” He knew very well that she would rather tell her story to them when she trusted them. Just how they would tell them their story when they trusted her. It was simply a matter of time.
Edward had a brief idea of the reason why Eli’s eyesight would go and continually getting worse to the point where she no longer could see. It sounded like it was the result of the human transmutation and equivalent exchange. The law of equivalent exchange varied from case to case; like with him losing his arm and leg, his brother losing his body, and their teacher losing some of her internal organs. Her eyesight must be hers, he thought.
He looked over to the Colonel with a stern strong look in his eyes. “She failed at human transmutation, didn’t she? That is why she is losing her eyesight.” His tone was unwavering and he knew he was right. It was the only thing that made sense. Who knew what else she lost in the end besides her eyesight, if she had help with performing the human transmutation.
The Colonel nodded his head slightly, but said nothing more about the subject. “Eli is waiting for you outside. You shouldn’t keep a lady waiting pipsqueak.” His tone was calm and sly, nonchalant.
‘Pipsqueak…’ That made Edward fume. “PIPSQUEAK! WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PIPSQUEAK?!” He shouted, his face red and his limbs flailing about as he rushed the desk. He gritted his teeth as Alphonse had held his brother back as quickly as he possibly could grab him.
“Brother, please calm down.” Alphonse pleaded, holding his brother back while trying to calm him down.
Edward clenched his fists, but after a few moments he had managed to cool his internal rage inside for being called short. He took a few breaths and Alphonse had let him go once he seemed to calm down. He grabbed his trunk and waved to Mustang as he walked to the exit. “Come on Al… let’s go.” He said, leaving the office and closing the door behind him.
Alphonse was close behind him and he said his goodbyes to the Colonel, leaving the office.
Roy Mustang knew that this was the right decision, to leave his daughter in their care. If they did manage to find the Philosopher’s Stone to restore their bodies, they could help her return her eyesight. He watched them leave the office with a somber look in his eyes.
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