And also thank my Latin class, which my latent otakuism dragged into this fic. It was supposed to pretty much end with the report, and then I got the idea that... Strangely enough, if I can ever get my butt in gear, Demosthenes might show up again, in quite a different context.
"Mutato nomine" means "change the names", and is part of a quote that translates, if I remember right, as "What are you laughing at? Change the names, and the story tells about you!"
File 39485-23 Officer: Edward "Fullmetal" Elric
Report on Harrisdam and subject Demosthenes
We got there, got arrested, almost got killed, found the guy, nearly got killed again, he's not a threat and I hate you to the bottom of my soul.
Re: Col. Mustang's request for a more detailed report.
Having arrived at the city, this officer and his companion (Codename: Lancelot) took a moment to look around, and were promptly trampled by what appeared to be a large parade, someone having evidently neglected to inform them that the cabdrivers in Harrisdam were all assholes. Lancelot suggested to the officer that perhaps a larger tip had been in order. The officer told him to shut up and may have, after accidentally brushing into a branch, viciously insulted a tree's mother. A man in a cape, hearing this slander and believing it had been aimed at him, turned around immediately and began lecturing the officer about politeness to one's elders, a talk which the officer had heard far too many times before. Unfortunately, the officer's irritation, as usual, showed, and provoked the caped man to hit him with a cane, whereupon Lancelot rounded on the caped man and gave him an impassioned lecture on how it was rude, immoral, and, as it happened, illegal, to hit people, particularly children, with canes. Due to this the caped man left. This officer now has an immediate and irrational hate of people with canes. He is, fortunately, accustomed to this sort of thing as well.
Given the lateness of the hour, this officer and his companion decided to find a hotel of some sort. They found, to their dismay, that they could find none in the immediate vicinity that did not also serve alcoholic beverages. In their experience, those establishments were sometimes either uncomfortable or dangerous. The word 'sometimes' is used because they were usually both.
Of course, setbacks such as these were not entirely unexpected and, hoping that this would prove to be the least of their problems, went warily into "The Dancing Mongoose" to inquire as to the availability of rooms.
Which would have been less trouble had the woman they asked not been a flaming pervert. But, to make a long story short, avoid verbosity, and not use too many words, after settling a few misunderstandings, the officer and his companion learned that all of the rooms at The Dancing Mongoose were taken, as were, almost certainly, the rooms at every other hotel in town. Apparently, at the mission debriefing, the fact had been left out that the subject (Codename: Demosthenes) was not only a former alchemist, but also an "inspirational speaker", i.e. a cult leader, and the town was filled with parade-goers and his cultists. This oversight was, the officer the officer never doubted, an accident.
He most certainly did not spend the next fifteen minutes walking through the park and screaming curses on his superior officer's name to the stars. That would be unprofessional, and this officer would never dream of doing it.
After fifteen minutes of enjoying the local park, which was fairly decent for such a small town, the officer and his companion realized that they still had to find some way to get lodging for the night. Though doubtful of their chances for success, they decided to visit other local hotels. Unfortunately, most of these were also situated above bars.
Being as that one of the phrases in the job description of a State Alchemist is "Officer of the Peace", and that alchemists are supposed to work for the good of society, the oficer thought, when he walked into the middle of a barfight, that he should help to subdue the fighters. He did so, and, indeed, succeeded. Until one of the assailants called this officer an insignificant string-bean of a dwarf.
The officer would like to note at this point that, though he is sometimes unjustly accused of magnifying insults to his height beyond all fact, Lancelot has independently confirmed that those were the exact words used, more or less. He thinks that the slurred word sounded more like "stunted" than "string-bean". We have agreed to disagree on this minor detail.
And, as was reasonably predictable, the police finally showed up and arrested us all.
That, this officer admitted to Lancelot, was predictable. Getting in a fight was indeed stupid, particularly over height, and this officer was beginning to become a cliche. This officer finds it is much easier to admit to such things in a paddy-wagon, when one has been irrefutably wrong.
Subdued, the officer, following protocol, requested a phone call and got in touch with his superior. Having, after a ridiculous amount of difficulty, achieved that, he handed over the phone to the arresting officer, certain that the matter would be explained, according to protocol.
For this officer and his companion were promptly tossed into a cell with the very ruffians they had previously encountered, along with others.
Lancelot wondered what on earth could have happened. This officer volunteered the hypothesis that their superior officer might possibly be an asshole who thought that sentencing them to a night in a town jail would be in some way funny-- or else, despite his legendary wiliness and acumen, had somehow failed to realize that the jailer was an extraordinairily literal-minded man who would believe verbatim what any officer of the military told him.
The remark about his superior being an asshole was, of course, baseless, untrue, and said in the heat of passion, and this officer, as goes without saying, regrets the remark and certainly does not continue to believe it.
Lancelot noted that at least they how had somewhere to stay for the night. The officer restrained the urge to repeatedly hit his head against the wall.
Meanwhile, the two men who had been in the bar fight were talking, which was obviously a very bad sign, as one was a loyal follower of Demosthenes, and the other had referred to Demosthenes' following as a "cult". He did so again, and another fight ensued.
This officer and Lancelot attempted to restrain the two men, whereupon they recognised this officer as the person who had attempted to break up their fight before.
The situation rapidly deteriorated until one of the men had hold of one of the officer's arms, and the other had hold of the other, thus rendering the officer--somewhat confused, unable to perform alchemy, at least, though given another second he would have come up with something, or Lancelot would have snapped and started to hurt people, and the officer rather hopes and believes it would have been the former.
Anyway, one of the unwillingly interred men had a knife, and after several seconds, the officer was finally able to call the arresting officer's attention to that. How the hell you can arrest somebody and not notice that they have a friggin' knife is beyond the scope of this report. Sufficeth to say the fight was stopped, the knife was confiscated, and the imprisoned were, as they should have been in the first place, put into seperate cells.
After cursing several people's names (both real and imaginary), and promising himself that he would look into witchcraft and cursing and see if there was any truth to it, this officer took advantage of the cell's scanty amenities and fell asleep.
In the morning, fortunately, our superior officer had realized his mistake (or whatever it was-- this officer cannot know his superior's mind), and this officer and Lancelot were released from the jail with the local officer's apology. After all of this excitement, this officer found it difficult to remember what the point of this whole stupid pointless mission was, and then remembered. Lancelot discovered a sign advertising Demosthenes's imminent appearance, and we followed the sign's directions back to the park.
This officer listened briefly to Demosthenes' speech before coming to the conclusion that he was, indeed, full of crap, and it was amazing that the psycho had any followers at all. He was, particularly after the events of the previous night, wise enough to keep that opinion to himself.
Keeping in mind his mission, insofar as he understood his mission, given that his commanding officer hadn't actually explained it so much as he had strung a group of random phrases together and shoved them out of his office while mocking this officer's height, this officer and Lancelot tried to edge their way backstage. Lancelot drew the officer's attention to the decidedly revolutionary slant of Demosthenes' current remarks. The officer had thought he was merely saying that all State Alchemists were assholes, a comment he had little problem with, but as he listened more closely, he realized that Demosthenes might be advocating the overthrow of the government. Or he might just really think all squirrels are totalitarian Communists. It was an extended metaphor, it was hard to tell.
Oh, and I think he might have implied at one point that my superior officer was a flaming homosexual. Or that might have been somebody else. Maybe he was talking about somebody else. But "some smirking bastard", who else could it have been?
This is, I'm sure, scurrilous, a base canard. God knows my commanding officer has "known" enough women in his day.
But anyway. Having discovered that Demosthenes is, in fact, a revolutionary agitater, this officer set about the second part of what he kind of figured his mission was, i.e. seeing if he was doing any alchemy. Or his superior could have said "embroidery", but "alchemy" makes more sense. How exactly the officer was supposed to find this out, he wasn't quite sure. Become a cultist? Break into his room? Ask him and hope he told the truth?
Then again, there might possibly be something to that last one.
Thus, the officer and Lancelot greeted Demosthenes on the subject's way to his car, identifying themselves as "big fans" and asking if Demosthenes had any concrete plans for seeking revenge on the military, and, if he did, if they could somehow help. He applauded our enthusiasm and, to our dismay, told us to come to his hotel room that afternoon.
This officer was, at that point, almost hoping that Demosthenes would turn out to be a pervert so that this oficer would have an excuse to transmute someone into a transistor radio. That is, he believed, theoretically possible. Though complex, and you'd have a great deal of carbon left behind.
The time until the appointed meeting was uneventful, unless you count the bird that perched on Lancelot's head and refused to leave for more than a few seconds at a time, or the old lady who was, strangely, convinced that we were her grandchildren, returned from the dead. Sadly, we could not conclusively confirm that this was not the case, because she kept insisting that her son might have changed his name to something at some point, and we really have no way of knowing she's not wrong, so we got her phone number and said we'd talk to her later. Uneventful, really.
At the appointed hour, we made our way to the hotel and discovered what we were tempted to call the "Demosthenes Scouts", except that many of them were old bald guys with decidedly non-alchemical tattoos who looked like they wanted to kill us. As people straggled in, trying to look nonchalant and unremarkable and failing dismally, we discovered that Demosthenes had gathered this group together to do the grunt work for his nefarious schemes. This officer was dismayed, for that would mean trouble, and a great deal more paperwork, not that this officer doesn't have to fill out forms in triplicate every time he bolws his friggin' NOSE. Also, after his previous encounter with this city's police, this officer had no desire to meet them again.
The officer noticed with relief that many of the Scouts were working on a nonsensical bit of machinery that would only be dangerous if you stuffed it with C4. This officer and Lancelot volunteered for work on the alchemical half of the plot, array-drawing and planning and such, and were immediately mollified. Even had Demosthenes had alchemists of any competence working for him (besides the temporary addition of this officer and Lancelot), his theories made no sense whatsoever. This officer would like to reccomend, in fact, based on his study of Demosthenes' theoretical work, that if you want to find a roundabout way to arrest him, you should focus on determining his ties to illegal psychotropic medications and their various abuses. Because he was so totally stoned when he wrote that crap. Wasted. Toasted. Tweaking. Et cetera.
Having discovered this, Lancelot and this officer happily set about sabotaging the Scouts' work in various subtle ways, not that it needed sabotaging. We were about to leave with the others when Demosthenes suddenly said, "But I think you should stay a little longer, Full Metal Alchemist."
And of course he was addressing Lancelot.
"I'm not the Fullmetal Alchemist," Lancelot protested; "I just wear armor. I'm paranoid. I don't work for the state."
"Stop your lies," Demosthenes said, "I know for a fact that they have sent the Fullmetal Alchemist to spy on me, and you were quite transparent."
"How do you know that?" this officer asked, understandably curious.
"Shut up, boy," Demosthenes said, "my business is with your older brother here."
"I'M the older brother, goddammit!" the officer snapped.
"He really is," Lancelot supported.
Demosthenes blinked for a while, and this officer looked around the room for something heavy to throw at him. "Then-- YOU'RE the Fullmetal Alchemist!"
"Yes," this officer said, deciding it would be futile to claim otherwise, as Demosthenes obviously had a spy somewhere. This officer was actually somewhat impressed that Demosthenes had managed to figure it out this quickly; it generally takes people a lot longer. The oficer complimented Demosthenes on this.
"I thought you'd be-- taller," Demosthenes said. "And more metal."
This officer threw a vase at him.
"But it figures," Demosthenes said, almost entirely undaunted, "the Fuhrer never would pick a name that made sense unless someone threatened his life. I think that's actually how the Flame Alchemist did it, as a matter of fact. Rumor has it he was going to be the Snapping Fire Alchemist, until SOMETHING changed the Fuhrer's mind. But anyway."
"Yeah," this officer said. "Nice talking with you, but we're leaving now."
"You can't leave," Demosthenes said.
Lancelot and this officer considered that, shrugged, and walked out the door.
This officer and his companion had gotten halfway across the street before Demosthenes caught up to us.
"I can't let you write that report!" he cried.
This officer brightened. "Really? You can make that happen? Excellent! Thanks, mister!" He walked away.
Demosthenes was confused for another few seconds, then ran to catch up. "You can't tell them I'm a threat!" he cried.
"I won't," this officer said, "because you're NOT."
"But-- you saw my secret plans!"
"And still I think you're not a threat. So-- one of us is really stupid."
"Not a threat?" he said. "Oh, I'll BE a threat! Just you see! This won't be the last time we meet, Full Metal Alchemist!" He turned and stormed away.
"I think that's supposed to be one word," this officer called back, and shrugged as Demosthenes gave him an obscene gesture.
This officer and Lancelot decided that the mission was probably over and that we should head home. Before we could do that, however, we were swamped by people who had heard Demosthenes' parting threats, and wanted the autograph of the famous Fullmetal Alchemist.
And were asking Lancelot, every one.
This officer, seeing the pervert girl from the previous night among the devotees, decided that in this case, he would generously let Lancelot have the glory. You know, to be nice.
Unfortunately, Demosthenes had threatened this officer REALLY loudly, and it was impossible to throw a rock in Harrisdam that day without hitting (deservedly) one of Demosthenes' cultists. Hearing that an alchemist was nearby-- a semi-famous State Alchemist at that-- they immediately started hurling verbal abuse. The pervert hotel girl from the previous night led a counterattack and, somehow, there were eggs somewhere and people started throwing them. And lettuce. And motivational posters. In frames. Let me tell you, it hurts getting hit by "dedication".
As the fight got more involved (Lancelot swears he saw someone throw a cat), this officer and his companion decided that the best course of action would be to sneak away, quickly and quietly, and get the hell out of this godforsaken hellhole as quickly as possible, even though this officer's smirky bastard commanding officer would almost certainly immediately dredge up a hellhole that was worse. He has a talent for that.
And thus this officer and his companion caught a train back to their base. This officer trusts a minute-by-minute account of how many birds were on the telephone wires will not be necessary.
Upon their arrival, though the officer wanted, of course, to go to base and immediately present his report, the lateness of the hour prevented that; this officer was loath to intrude upon his superior in the evening, for God only knows what he'd find him doing, and like hell he'd be in his office when somebody was looking for him. The officer and his companion therefore retired for the evening, and the matter of writing and organizing their report was, of course, the first thing on their minds.
The next morning, a number of distractions prevented this officer from filing a report. There were a number of errands to run, and the city seemed positively full of purse-snatchers (you guys really need to do something about the crime here). By the time this officer managed to find his way to the base, he realized his superior would almost certainly be on a lunch break (even smirky bastards need to eat, but probably less), and thus this officer decided to follow his superior's example, as he has often been instructed to do, and take a meal before submitting his report. Due to another series of unfortunate coincidences, involving a dispute over pricing, an overturned truck of chickens, and an attempt at a strike by a fledgling window-washer's union, this officer was unable to arrive back at base until mid-afternoon.
It occured to the officer at this point that he should probably write his report before he attempted to turn it in. This took him several minutes, as he seemed, strangely, to keep getting into involved conversations with random strangers. One of these strangers, he discovered to his astonishment, happened to be his superior's aunt. When his commanding officer's aunt discovered that this officer worked for her nephew, she requested information as to my superior's activities (apparently my commanding officer is not nearly as talkative with his relatives as he is with anyone who doesn't give a damn what he's doing). This officer volunteered every detail he knew that was not classified.
Oh, as a side-note, this officer would like, on the record, to apologise for any and all aspersions he may have cast upon the mother of his superior officer. She sounds like an excellent, noble, kind, long-suffering woman, and would certainly not have been involved in the type of unnatural relationship this officer may have thoughtlessly suggested. This officer retracts all statements of this sort, and promises from now on to only use epithets that do not reference his superior's mother.
Anyway, the time wore on quickly, and before this officer knew it, evening had dropped and his commanding officer was exiting the building. While this officer meant to salute, and of course to answer his superior's queries about exactly where he'd been all day, he was prevented from doing this by his superior's aunt, who, not having seen her nephew for quite some time, immediately hugged him, and started to pepper him with legitimate questions about his social life, which she seemed to have heard daunting things about. This officer, to be polite, entered the building and submitted his report before the appointed deadline, and it was hardly his fault if his superior wasn't around to read it.
The next day, the officer patiently waited to be summoned for a debriefing, but his report had apparently somehow been all but lost in the middle of a large stack of reports. In the evening, just before he left, he recieved notice that his report was "too short" and that "you had damn well better have a longer one when you present it tomorrow morning". While this officer felt harassed by his commander's usage of obscenities, he has decided that, for the good of the state, he must, for the time being, let it slide.
And thus endeth the report, which this officer trusts is sufficiently detailed for the Colonel.
Colonel Mustang stared at the report for a moment before he flipped it closed and looked up at the boy who was glaring at him from the couch.
"Well," he said, "I suppose this takes a certain skill. I don't think there's a sentence in this report I can't take issue with."
"Thanks," Ed said, "I tried my best."
Mustang paused. "You are the one who told my aunt I was, as she put it, 'sleeping around like a male whore'?"
"I didn't use those words," Ed said calmly, "and it's hardly my fault it's true. I was never ordered to lie to her. Is that what you would have had me do?"
Al raised a hand to his forehead and scootched sway, trying to look small, which was a very difficult task for a large suit of armor.
"That was not a pleasant evening," Mustang said softly.
"Well," Ed groused, "I imagine it was better than being stuck in a frickin' JAIL CELL like WE were forced--"
"You need to learn that there are consequences for your actions, Fullmetal, which is why I told them to--"
"Do you have any IDEA how close I came to--!"
Ed fell silent, and Mustang blinked.
"Possibly, upon reflection, that may have been unwise," Mustang allowed.
Ed reluctantly accepted that. "And I really shouldn't have called you all those things that involved your mother."
"Yes," Mustang said, "you mentioned that. Which brings to mind, incidentally, that we need to have a long talk about the proper way to write a military report."
"We already HAD a long talk about the proper way to write a military report!" Ed yelled.
"Which obviously did a lot of good."
"What the hell is wrong with it! I used the dumbass codenames, I 'avoided first-person personal pronouns'--"
"--All of which are conventions intended to give the reports a more objective tone," Mustang noted, "which you have spectacularly failed to achieve."
"So you don't like my writing! How is that MY problem!"
"You are perfectly capable of writing an objective report," Mustang said. "You just choose not to." He paused. "And you are perfectly aware of that."
"Yes," Ed said.
"I swear I tried to stop him," Al said.
"I believe you."
Mustang glanced up at him.
"...I may have been kind of angry about the prison," he admitted, and looked away with a cough.
"Ah," Mustang said, "so THAT'S what happened."
"Whaddaya mean?" Ed snapped.
"While your reports invariably flirt with insubordination," Mustang said, "this one commits it outright. Evidently the lack of your brother's influence. I should put him on the payroll for preventing you from blowing up the station."
"You should put your ambition on the payroll for keeping your ego from immolating everybody you meet," Ed muttered.
"That I should," Mustang said calmly.
Ed paused. "Did you really threaten to set the Fuhrer on fire if he called you the 'Snapping Fire' Alchemist?"
Mustang blinked. "Why?"
"I want to know if it would've worked."
"I doubt it. But still. Tomorrow. We're going to work on your writing skills."
"Aw, HELL no!" Ed cried in dismay.
"Hell yes. I realize that you dislike reports, Fullmetal, but you're simply going to have to get used to it. We all do. I once had a commanding officer who, even though the changeover to English had been completed twenty years before, made us all file a copy of our reports in Latin. That in ADDITION to English. And I'd only had a year of Latin; all of my teachers had told me it was obsolete. So even though I complained, for a whole year I had to try to translate my reports into Latin with a pocket dictionary."
"And come to base in the snow, uphill both ways," Ed sassed.
"It may sound like the tale of an old man, Fullmetal," Mustang said, "but you really are quite fortunate. I suppose I was, too-- that he retired. We threw a party. I really did hate that man. Every time I came into the office, he'd have this-- this domineering, self-righteous, lazily arrogant little--"
Mustang paused. Looked at the boys more closely. Al seemed to be stifling a laugh, and Ed was giving him a very small, restrained, evil smile that should have sent him to prison for gross insubordination. But Mustang was more mature than that.
"You really are going to have to learn to control your temper, Fullmetal," Mustang said, looking at him seriously. "As you should have learned well by now, it will get you into great trouble if you don't."
"Can I go now?" Ed said.
Mustang sighed. "Fine. But be here tomorrow!"
Ed jumped up and stormed out of the office, muttering all the way. "Stupid frigging, WRITING lesson! I could write RINGS around-- oh, all that crap about how bad HIS life was 'cause HE had a superior who was a tyrannical smirky bastard and how the hell could I understand that? Made the pansy write in LATIN, like THAT'S so--"
"Brother?" Al said warily.
"How about we head to the archives?" Ed suggested.
"Is this something that is going to get us set on fire?"
"We'll be fine. I think we should take this opportunity to do some... research."
"Oh, dear god."
"Whaaat? What's the matter with research?"
"You're right," Al said, "I've been meaning to look up some things on flame alchemy and the melting point of steel."
"Oh, come on, Al," Ed said irritably, dragging him through the halls.
"Also some things on fireproofing."
"He will NOT set us on fire."
"I don't know," Al said, "a lot of times he reminds me of you, and..."
"Fine!" Ed said. "Research whatever you want. I'll be in the Archives, though..."
"Well," Mustang said, "I'm afraid this lesson will have to be somewhat abbreviated."
"Excellent," Ed said.
"I have a meeting in an hour."
"Hopefully I will be able to get the major points across by then."
Hawkeye entered, putting some papers on a growing pile on Mustang's desk, and giving him a look which suggested he should perhaps be focusing more attention on actually doing his paperwork and less on recalitricant young alchemists. Mustang ignored it.
"You really sure you're qualified to be doing this?" Ed asked.
"Suddenly you're concerned with my teaching qualifications?" Mustang raised an eyebrow, while wondering what the boy was plotting. Suddenly, his mind, long accustomed to intrigue, noticed that Al was reading and instantly knew that he'd revealed far too much the day before.
"Yeah," Ed said, "I looked up some of your old reports."
Mustang sighed imperceptibly. "Have you now."
Al, in a slightly stunend tone read, "'Et denique quidam homo venit dixitque me feminam scortumque esse. Magna ostentione moderationis--'"
Mustang snatched the report out of Al's hands, almost red. "GIVE me thaat!"
Ed chuckled, grinning evilly. "You really were working with a dictionary, weren't you? At least you obviously listened in class."
"Even if my writing skills were not always perfect, and my style not always restrained," Mustang said, recovering almost instantly, "I eventually learned, and you should as well. I should have thought, with your competitive nature, that you would be ashamed, after so long in the state's service, to discover that you were still writing similarly to someone who had been working for only a few months."
"Yeah, but you were older than me then!" Ed complained.
"And I still am. So! Time is short. We shall start with the proper organization. You should begin with a broad summary, explaining what you are about to say, and then transition into the body of the report. Make your times as exact as possible. In the body, you should restate..."
Ed started banging his head against his arm. The metal one, Hawkeye noticed. She couldn't help feeling a little sympathy for him as she closed the door.
"You know what I'm going to do?" Ed said wearily as he shuffled out of the office, several minutes after Mustang had left for his meeting. "I AM going to memorize those tips he gave us."
"Wonderful!" Al said, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"And then I'm going to break every single loving one of 'em in my next report."
"Ah," Al said.
"Every single one!"
"I thought you did that with this report."
"I'll do it worse."
"But that's how this got started."
"Well, yeah..." Ed sighed and fell against the wall. "I dunno, maybe it's too much trouble. Maybe I should just write the damn things how he wants."
"Maybe," Al said, afraid to show too much enthusiasm for the idea for fear of reversing it.
"Then again, that's what he wants. I can't just do what he wants! But maybe it's not worth it. Maybe I should just write the reports and, I dunno, tell his aunt he got VD. I did hear a rumor about that, you know. Not my fault if it's not true."
"I don't think I should tell you her phone number."
"Why did she tell you and not me!"
"You know..." Hawkeye said. "After hearing that bit of that report..."
"Mustang's?" Ed asked, looking up. Hawkeye looked slightly embarassed, and everyone else was trying to look like they weren't listening eagerly, and failing very badly.
"I can't help being curious as to what it actually said," she said.
A smile spread across Ed's face. "Al, which part of it did you read again?"
"The part where he was at the bar..." Al said reluctantly.
"Oh yeah, I remember. Let's see. From 'et denique quidam homo', right? Cut you off after the 'great display of moderation'. I'd translate that section as..." Ed looked up at the ceiling, pretending to concentrate. "'And then some guy came and said I was a woman and a whore. In a great display of moderation, I reacted justly and set the jerk on fire. Of course, when the police came, they didn't understand this affair, and...'"
Ed grinned. "That's all I remember. If I got it right."
"Ah," Hawkeye said, slightly stunned.
"Mutato nomine," Ed said, and walked away, feeling much better.