by BattleJoy W
Disclaimer: I write fanfiction. I know exactly how much is mine and how much is the creators. I hope you do too.
UPDATE: 8-19 Noticed something the other week while catching up on the manga, Central City is nowhere near a sea. Thus my fic is off! So I updated merely to switch things to a river setting since most major cities have a nice convenient river/source of water. Also to make some minor grammatical changes that bothered me.
Edward Elric stared dazedly at the intensifying glow of the windows of the old warehouse on the corner of the wharf. The scent of burnt feathers, fish, cloth, and oranges did not mix well. It was a good thing that it was on the end of the block. The only other nearby structure was a military owned uniform depot so there was no civilian casualties and Ed didn't think the fire would spread.
But there weren't any bad guys left either. They had hightailed it when that box of oranges exploded. Ed would really have to remember that citric acid is much more flammable than he had heard so he should never transmute them any more.
'Operation: M' was crap, pure and simple, in Ed's humble opinion.
He wasn't expecting this fiasco when he was given his orders yesterday. Roy just pulled out a terse, typed sheet of paper from a folder marked 'Operation: M' and placed it before him. "This is what we know and the address where you are to go. Get us some evidence and report back. You have until the day after tomorrow. We think the suspects are about to move."
Which was the reason Ed was standing there in broad daylight in front of the condemned 'Perky Fisherman Mackerel Canning Plant and Warehouse'. Ed never met a perky fisherman and doubted they existed. He, sure as heck, wasn't feeling perky.
He also was wondering why someone would put a sea-fish packing plant this far upriver. But the 'M' in 'Operation: M' obviously meant mackerel. What a stupid name for a mission. Didn't Roy have any imagination?
"Big Brother, help me!" Al cried, as he ran away from the huge, foreign bird trying to peck off his loincloth. Sure, the creature pecking the knots tying them loose was kinda the way they both escaped the gangsters but why anyone would accidentally deliver a crate with an ostrich in it to a condemned mackerel factory was completely beyond Ed.
Ed wished he never was assigned this mission. There had been no hints of any connections to the Philosopher's Stone, Scar, or biological transmutation. Ed couldn't see why the Colonel Roy 'I'm a manipulative bastard and your commanding officer' Mustang would assign this to him when the original mission sounded like it should fall into to the non-military police. A smuggling operation in Central City involving bootlegged merchandise involving some comic character called 'Happy-time Kitty!' just did not sound like it fell under the jurisdiction of the military. Sure, Al was tickled pink by finally getting an orange tabby to complete his collection, but Ed was tired of being a stupid errand-boy. Roy had other people in his office. Why hadn't he sent them?
The mission did pick up a bit when they discovered that the bootleg Happy- time Kitty dolls was a front for the real smuggling of illegal automail. Normal automail was open to the public but certain pieces with firearms built in were strictly controlled. And some of more impressive examples of these 'arms' (HA! Terrible pun!) would make the most stupid yet well connected street punk nearly as dangerous as even Hawkeye.
We are taking a brief moment for this FMA public service announcement:
"Hello, I am First Lieutenant Liza Hawkeye," Hawkeye sternly addressed the audience. "Remember, for the public safety, we don't need stricter gun regulations. We need stricter enforcement of existing gun laws and stiffer penalties for offenders. Thank you."
Of course, when you get involved with big time smuggling you get involved with big time gangsters, thus the resulting difficulty with the situation. Ed just couldn't shake the feeling that them showing up exactly at same time as him and his brother was more than coincidence.
And there were still no explanations on why an abandoned Mackerel factory had mothballs, bales of twine, spicy wasabi, trash compactors, transmition fluid, towels, azaleas, and, well, a whole bunch of random crap that Ed knew didn't belong in a canning factory. It was if someone amassed a whole convenient pile of crap that an alchemist could happen by and possibly transmute to save his rear from evil gangsters. There was even a box of lacy women's brassieres which Ed suspected were left there just to embarrass him.
"Big Brother! Help me!"
"Al, it's a bird. You're pure metal and 200lbs heavier than him," Edward ignored the pleas for assistance from his brother, who he was confident, could handle the avian situation, and proceeded to look around. He needed to put out the flames fast before they destroyed the evidence. Maybe he should transmute a water pump from the river to the factory, but where to get the materials?
If he went before Roy without even some illegal arms or at the very least that whole box of limited edition Siamese Happy-time Kitties, Roy would have his rear in a sling. An ambitious officer needed an occasional successful bust or campaign to advance quickly.
Ed gritted his teeth imagining the cover of the newspaper with a smiling Roy shaking some big-shot's hand. Ed's shoulder and a couple strands of his wayward bangs in the left-hand corner was all that was left after the photographer cropped him out. Ed wasn't a glory hog but he resented being a stepping stone in Roy's career path.
It was then that a sudden blast rocked the area.
"Al! Get down!" Ed yelled, flattening himself against the wharf's floor, fearful of shrapnel. Al quickly obeyed. Even the ostrich did. Loud and thunderous, the flames must have gotten to some munitions and they resulting blast could be heard two miles away.
Ed decided that he would never tell Winry the details of this night. She would burst into tears at the thought of all that advanced automail being blown apart or slowly melted.
So much for the evidence he needed.
Ed didn't think his idea of a water pump would be too effective to the fire now but he had to try it. The fire was escalating and spreading to building next to it. He didn't want the whole wharf engulfed by a fire that would be blamed on him.
"Al, maybe if both of us make hoses and pumps out of those boxes full of-," Ed blinked and continued, thoroughly irritated. "Strangely, convenient rubber duckies that are perfect for transmuting into water-hoses, and brand new metal mailboxes for the fittings, standing out on the wharf and... are those sirens?"
Ed turned his head to see the whole contingent of firefighters in the city advance toward them.
But that didn't make any sense! The blasts just started a couple seconds before. They couldn't have gotten there in that amount of time. They must have gotten an advanced call.
Back at the office...
"Fullmetal, excellent report. I'm glad you took my advice and let someone proofread it first. That or your grammar is improving. I believe you have some leave time accumulated. Go ahead and take it. Dismissed."
"Huh?," was Ed's intelligent reply. Roy just accepted the report, even complimented him, and told him to take a vacation? Was there a school somewhere specializing in making Colonels extra frustrating? "Wait a second, I have some questions."
Roy ignored him and called out for his second in command over the intercom. "First Lieutenant. Hawkeye? Could you please come in here?"
"Yes, sir?" She quickly answered the office door.
"Take Fullmetal and have him put on a train to his hometown. I think he's earned himself some rest time." Hawkeye took Ed's shoulder and gently forced him out of the room.
Ed turned back even as he was dragged out of the room. The whole mission was ludicrous! Roy had to have an ulterior motive for sending him out there. "You owe me some answers! Why did you really send me out there? Did you hold back information from me about the gangsters? And what who the hell stores rubber duckies and mailboxes in plain site on a wharf?! Did you give me real orders or just threw me into the middle of a crappy, scavenger hunt!?"
Roy seemed nonplussed as his interlaced gloved fingers supported his chin. A faint smile graced his lips.
"I'll get to the bottom of this so help me I will!" Ed's distant vow of vengeance sounded but Roy Mustang paid him no heed. Ed would cool down eventually. A few minutes later, Roy calmly called Sgt. Major Fury inside his office.
"Did you finish your report of Fullmetal's last mission?" Roy stretched in his seat and then stood up. He turned to look out his office window at the small yet recognizable boy with gold hair, who stood with his grey, armored brother. Roy was very amused at the sight of Ed shaking his fist at him before stomping home to pack.
"Yes sir. All contents of the factory were destroyed. The smoldering remains were still too hot to dig through the debris but we don't think that anything we could use in a trial-," Fury began but Roy waved for him to stop.
"Any damages outside the Mackerel plant?"
"The next door Uniform Depot's west wing burnt completely to the ground. Luckily, the fire department came in time to save the east but-"
"That's enough, Fury. You are dismissed."
"But sir, that's it?"
"Yes. Leave it on my desk. You are dismissed."
"But, sir?" Fury questioned, tears pooling in his eyes. This couldn't be it. Roy had called him at home moments before he was going to go out the door with that cute red-headed girl in Intelligence. It took him three months to get the courage up to ask her out and he had to cancel so he could spend the whole night getting statements and typing up that very report.
"Dismissed." Roy turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "Do you want me to call for Lieutenant Hawkeye?"
"No, sir." Fury hesitantly said as he backed out of the office disconcerted. He went to his desk to quietly weep at his crushed romantic chances.
Roy laughed. The world truly was his oyster, or should he say mackerel?
The entire supply of official women's military uniform slacks in Central City had been annihilated.
Phase one of "Operation: Miniskirt" was now complete.
This piece actually has an epilogue/continuance. Maybe if everyone are good lil reviewers, I'll post it.