Because this is written for the Roy/Riza 100 themes...well, yes, it's going to have some tints. I hope I didn't go overboard, though (wartime romance is rather...against my general principles). And since...um, this takes place when Roy was 19 and ends when he was 20, I decided to try writing his personality....a tad differently. I apologize if it's blatant OOC, because younger!Roy...well, it's hard to paint a very clear image of him.
1. Military Personnel
The camp smelled like dust and horse shit.
In any other times, Major Mustang would’ve looked around to figure out how to navigate through the entire mess, but because this was unlike any other times, he kept his crisp silence and held his grounds. It was not the first time the State Alchemists were sent into war, and the young man had heard a fair deal on how the troops viewed this suddenly elite cast of officers. Most of them were not that good. Aside from the natural distrust for what seemed like magic to them, there was the resentment over a weakling who’s never seen field combat suddenly arriving and receiving command. And for him, specifically, it didn’t help that his age was just borderline for active front assignment.
A group of men were running toward where they were. Several groups, actually, some haggard, some fresh, all appearing tired and somewhat dubious. They fell into orderly lines, and Major Mustang realized that there were far fewer of them than there were supposed to be.
The Major held his posture, hands crossed behind his back and looking grimly ahead. Ready or not, this was real. And there was no turning back, despite how his heart was pounding. He didn’t glance at the others, but the young man was rather sure they were doing the same thing.
The Lt. Colonel---whose name he couldn’t yet remember---stepped forward. It was time. The whole battalion lined out in front of them, approximately two hundred when theory held that there should be a thousand. Divided into four. One for each Major, one for each weakling.
He was being given his first command.
“Sir,” the Second Lieutenant noted, “your sidearm is missing.”
Major Mustang instinctively glanced at the empty holster hanging from his waist, then at the Lieutenant---Hawkeye, wasn’t it?---and then back to the ruins and rubbles surrounding them. She was supposed to command platoon C. Too bad platoon C wasn’t there anymore. They started with fifteen men and now all that was left of the unit was the officer in charge, which was almost like a twisted consolation prize, because the Second Lieutenant happened to be one of the best crackshots anybody had ever seen. Woman or no.
“I don’t need it,” he answered, and it was true.
“But what if circumstances disable your...alchemy, sir?”
He didn’t really look at her. The Major had spent hours on end at times imagining the looks in his subordinates’ eyes when he snapped his fingers, always standing in front of them and never looking back. Sometimes he pictured the look on his own face and came up blank. How ironic for a profession that required an active imagination. He didn’t really want to look at her. No more than he wanted to admit that he didn’t carry a gun because he didn’t want to, and to hell with regulations. Guns reminded him of things he’d rather not be reminded of.
So he didn’t look at her. “I have chalk.”
“They won’t give you time for an array.”
Rounds of gunfire sounded in the distance, pitter-patter like falling raindrops and thunderclaps. Too bad there’d never be a rainbow. “I’ll figure out something.”
The Flame Alchemist didn’t turn back to look at her reaction to that, but it was the standard answer. He didn’t want to carry a gun, didn’t want to really learn how to be good with one, or kill with one. Some parts of Roy Mustang would rather remain unchanged, and if he shoots for once he knew that he could never return again.
Advance. Orders were to move to the southern bank, a few scouts already sent ahead to investigate. They’d been down to three platoons already; they couldn’t afford to lose any more men until the rendezvous with the battalion. He gave out his commands, not barking orders but moving his hands in military code. The officers in charge of each platoon would understand. And then, motioning for the Second Lieutenant (who, in the rush of everything, seemed to have became the impromptu aide-de-camp) to follow, the young man stepped out of his cover as cautiously as he could.
And bullets rained down on them.
Sand grinded under his boots even as he leaned against the half-ruined wall, trying to catch his breath. Vision blurred. When the Major withdrew his hand from his shoulder, it came away wet and sticky with red. Blood. Yeah. That was where the bullets hit him, wasn’t it? Strange. According to theory, the pain should’ve lashed all the way up to his brain by now. Strange. All too strange. It was almost surreal, getting caught in a smart little trap that prevented him from snapping his fingers lest he burn his own men, and running away (wasn’t the official term he used in the exam ‘strategic withdrawal’?) and getting separated from platoon A and D.
What kind of commander was he, anyway?
The rest of the men---six of them?---were looking at him expectantly. He could almost hear their voices. Major, sir! What are your next orders? Do we retreat? Your decision, sir!
And what was that in their eyes, disappointment? Expectation? An alchemist in the field with a wound, as useless as predicted?
Damn, he was younger than all of them. As young as the Lieutenant who just died out there in the ambush, fresh out of cadet school. Or that volunteer Private. Blood soaked his right glove. The array wouldn’t be usable for a while.
What was he supposed to do? What did the strategy manual say about situations like this? He was the commanding officer, he was supposed to command. But command what?
Blurry vision. Major Mustang blamed it all on blurry vision. It was the blood loss. Where was the medic? Oh, right. Dead three days ago in the battle near the ridge. He couldn’t see the enemy movements in the shadow of their cover, which had sadly been exposed. He couldn’t see which Lieutenant---there was a star on the officer’s shoulder, he could guess that much---dragged him out of there.
Men died. A lot of the men he was supposed to command died. Did he really want platoon A and D and this one to die?
Blood streaked down his left arm and through the gloves, the pain beginning to throb for the first time. His legs, dragging, struggling to run by themselves. The sheer stupidity of it all. Men running, following, splitting, being shot down and breaking. The enemy’s plan. Divide and kill.
The Major gritted his teeth.
“Relay the orders,” he said, not sure if his voice was strong enough for command, hands reaching for support other than the blood-drenched back of the lieutenant dragging him, trying to move on his own accord. They couldn’t really form a counteroffensive or even a good line of defense without the commander having a clear hold of himself, now could they? “N formation. Regroup at waypoint C.”
The Lieutenant turned, even as his head was still slung over her shoulder (her? Hers), and in her heavy breath was alarm. “Major Mustang. Are you intending to...”
“Of course,” he answered, struggling with his undamaged arm to get free of her support and get back to his own feet. “We’re fighting. And we’ll get everyone out of here.”
He woke up in the advanced dressing station, finding himself on a bed in an otherwise crowded room. A field grade officer’s privilege with the rest of the wounded. By waking up here, Major Mustang reasoned that his injuries weren’t quite so serious, otherwise he’d be on a stretcher going to casualty clearing station. What he didn’t know was whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Major. You’ve finally woke up.”
The young man glanced, trying to lift himself up at the same time and wincing at the sharp protest from his shoulder. “You seem to have a knack for stating the obvious, Second Lieutenant. This is what, twice in a row?”
Her expression remained cool and collected, apparently unfazed by the blatant sarcasm. Or maybe she heard the thank you. Bandages ran the length around her forehead (since when did it get there?), and the edges of those that wound around her forearm are clearly visible even with the jacket’s long sleeves. “You’ve been out for approximately four hours, sir. It’s lucky we got you out of there in time.”
Memories came flying back into his mind like a hailstorm. Caught. Decided to fight and find the rest of the company. There was fire, fire and fire, the minutiae of the air connecting and twisting away into outbursts of energy faster than he ever remembered it to. Gunfire. Shouts, which should’ve been nothing new at all but turned out to be just that. Where was platoon A and D? He remembered finding them, the rest of B following behind and then...he didn’t remember anything.
She must have seen the look on his face, because Second Lieutenant Hawkeye appeared nodded. And maybe a tired, weary smile? Not like he’d know, at any rate.
“Platoons A and D are alive, sir. Three were sent to recuperate in casualty clearing. Six are in the next room, and another two have already resumed active duty.”
The look on his face as the numbers didn’t match up with the list of names must have shown, too, because she suddenly looked another way. And there stood his unasked, unanswered question.
When the fighting stopped, the men would be the ones to dig the graves. The Major’s job was to sign the documents and write the correspondence to the families of the dead.
5. Weapon & Fine
He couldn’t imagine what he must have looked like when he walked back from the Rockbells’. Presumably like a wreck, because the Second Lieutenant looked up from the gun she was cleaning and asked if he was all right. She was lit up by the lantern, warm and tinted with fire and painfully alive. Was this how it felt like all this time? The same as killing but never the same as anything anymore, to pull a little metal contraption and see blood splattering the walls behind a body going pale?
Her eyes. Pity, curiousity, or concern?
The Major told her he was fine, and retired to his tent.
“Reinforcements are bound to arrive at sixteen hundred hours, to complement platoon C and A. The division has also sent replacements for our medics and for Captain Langdon,” Hawkeye read off a clipboard, her face ever-oh-so-expressionless.
He didn’t say a word, munching on his rations and lost to his own thoughts. The 19th Cavalry recently lost the battle near the northwest pass. One would think the military would’ve given up on horses by now, but someone apparently still clung to old ideals. The 6th Artillery was supposed to have been sent in, but contact was lost along the way. Resources for pyrotechnics were fairly stripped, and it already had occurred to him where their unit might get booted to next. On one hand, reinforcements were greatly welcomed with their general lack of manpower, and their company would actually be functional once again. On the other was the matter of Langdon’s replacement. The dead Captain was a good man, fairly strict, but he was a good guide on the ropes of command, and early on Major Mustang wasn’t quite so sure on who was the CO and who was second. Other alchemists weren’t so lucky.
They spent the next moments in silence.
Dying on the battlefield meant that someone would be sent to replace you, much like a broken gear in a clockwork mechanism, a substrate in a catabolic reaction. One lost, another took its place and the rest of the world that mattered wouldn’t really care. If he died, it would be the same. If she died, it would be the same. The Division would send them a replacement, and life would go on for the rest of the soldiers dancing the waltz in blood and bones.
Major Mustang looked up from his rations for a moment. She was still reading the rest of the documents, presumably those about the logistics and bookkeeping of the company. Their quartermaster sergeant had already looked at those, true, but it was command’s task to double check things. And it was no big secret that the one officer in charge of command itself couldn’t survive basic bookkeeping for the life of him even though he could do three-tiered advanced geometry in his head.
The silence was undisturbed except for the sound of pages turning and the clanking of fork and knife.
7. Crime and Punishment
The food in the army was as bland as the food at home, if the small apartment he’d lived in before the slip of paper calling him to the front could be call home, with its total lack of everything that normal people usually associated with it. No father reading the day’s news at the dinner table, no mother humming in the kitchen, no dog tackling him when he opened the door. Just the silent grace of books arranged neatly on the shelves and the sunlight streaming through the dust. But it was nostalgic, it was strange. When others would grumble about how tasteless the watery soup of the day was like, or how the bread felt like it was made out of sawdust, Major Mustang would just take his bite and be reminded of Central’s rain.
The whir of machinery outside the command tent felt distant. Distant. As was the sound of paper turning, fluttering. Distant. She simply sat there looking through the documents, and sometimes he had to wonder just how many of those were there with the impossibly long time she spent reading it.
Was she like this with her previous command? And the next should he die?
He wanted to either kill himself or to hear someone say it’s all right. Maybe that was the crime.
And maybe this stillness was the punishment.
Note : In episode 25, it does show that we have cavalry use in Ishvar. This is consistent with WWI, and how tanks come into play ten years later.
Most of the ranks and duties are gipped from WWI, with a few creative liberties thrown in. Majors supposely command companies, which has a Captain as a second-in-command and the Second/First LTs commands the platoons within.
Crappy...but then, I do want to experiment with NonAngst!Ishvar...
Hughes was also supposed to take a part in Roy's psyche, but then the story flow kicked me in the arse.
Crossposted : fma_het royai fm_alchemist