Chapter 1

"But they were surprise attacks in Central! How were we supposed to know that men in armor would fall from the sky and strange flying machines would start…flying around the skies and terrorizing everyone…?"

"Calm down, sir. What we need is a – "

"What we need are more volunteers to help us rebuild Central Amestris!"

"What we need are more military officers to make sure a crime of this magnitude never taints our state again!"

"What we need is more law and order! I call a dictatorship!"

"WAIT!"

Everyone in the Amestris Parliament meeting paused and stared at the man who had told the first speaker to calm down. This man shuddered under the weight of so many people watching him, and ran a hand nervously through his mop of dark blond hair, a couple of loose bangs getting into one of his glittering blue eyes. He wanted nothing less than to sink into his seat and disappear from the meeting, but of course, he had to stand and be recognized as the one Parliament member with the big mouth.

"Er…?"

"Well, speak up, Mr. Devon Quier!"

"Umm…you see…that attack in Central…it just goes to show that…"

"You mean THOSE attacks," piped up a middle-aged man up front, adjusting his toupee and looking around furtively to see if anyone noticed the bald spot he was desperately trying to conceal. "Assault on the headquarters, then on the civilians…"

Devon Quier flapped his hands nervously and walked shakily towards the platform. As he stood there, all Parliament eyes on him, he said slowly but clearly, "We need more than just volunteers, or officers, or new laws…"

"What we need is a leader."

The chaotic Parliament, at first, fell silent. Everything was so still that everyone heard a pen drop.

"Nonsense!" exploded the man with the toupee. "We've been running things smoothly even after the disappearance of Fuhrer King Bradley. We've been doing it on our own just fine; why start the whole Fuhrer tradition again? Why fix something that isn't busted?"

"Actually, Amestris is…well, busted, to some extent," put in the man who had been raving about the surprise attacks in Central in the first place. "Sure, maybe the first two years were fine…and then, boom, suits of armor start falling out of the sky! Maybe if we pray harder, it would be money!"

"Who says we can't fix it, Gideon? Are you saying we are incompetent state leaders, is that it?"

"N – no, Mr. Snapfuse, sir, just saying – "

Mr. Snapfuse, usually just known as Snapfuse, rose out of his seat abruptly. "Repairs and renovation are going on in Central as we speak! So far, nobody has reported any other abnormalities or attacks or anything that may interfere with the rebuilding of Central Amestris! We don't need another Fuhrer Bradley, even though I have to admit, he ran the country well, and it was a shame to suddenly lose him…"

"Actually, there were a lot of armed assaults during his rule, I noticed," said Devon, waving his arms to remind everyone that he was still there, on the platform. But right now, nobody seemed to care. "But look at us! Ever since that incident, we've been running around like ants fleeing from a crushing foot! We need someone to lead us, someone who can hold us all down and help us decide when we're hopelessly divided in opinion and view! We need someone who can represent us in public, become a living emblem of hope and justice, and watch over us like a heaven-sent archangel!"

"He's raving!" complained Snapfuse to anyone who bothered to listen to him. Apparently nobody bothered to listen to anyone but themselves.

"Even if we would need a leader," a woman's pure soprano rang out, "who would it be? Would we still use the same criteria that brought Bradley into power?"

"No way, don't look at me!" said Devon, shaking his head. "I don't fancy talking about politics in front of a huge audience and begging them to obey our laws."

To this the woman replied, "You are now. And who said anything about choosing you? Like I said, there are specific criteria to be followed. Then we draw up a list of final candidates…"

"What is with all this twaddle about criteria for a leader?" demanded Snapfuse.

"If you don't mind my saying so, sir, you're being quite the irony," said Gideon lightly. "You don't want another leader, and yet you sympathize with Bradley's supporters."

"What I mean is that even though he was good, he disappeared, and even without him, we've been getting by just fine ever since!"

"You're not making any sense," said another woman curtly, tossing her long black curls. "I say we choose a leader. If we cannot find even a single eligible candidate in seventy-two hours, then we call the whole thing off. If there's someone out there who would actually turn out to be a competent potential leader, then why leave him – or her – to rot out there when he or she could be moving this country forward?"

Once again, the Parliament was quiet. Gideon twisted around in his chair and tried to discreetly pick his nose. Snapfuse kept on glancing up at his toupee. Devon rocked back and forth on his heels, whistling his daughter's first musical composition. The two women attempted to communicate over everyone else's heads via hand signals.

"I guess…we take a vote? All in favor of choosing the next Fuhrer?" whispered Devon. But even though his voice was so soft, the silence made it echo throughout the room.

Hands went up, including those of the two women, Gideon, and Devon. Snapfuse and a few others kept theirs down, but two-thirds of the gathered party was all for choosing King Bradley's successor.

"So…where do we find these candidates?" asked Devon sheepishly. "If we start at the military…"

The curly-haired woman shook her head as she stood up. "No. We will not let the military take over as government – again. The next Fuhrer will not only be commander-in-chief of the military, but also the leader of the Parliament. He or she will be the mediator between Parliament and State Military, and keep ties…well, tied. And because it was your idea in a way, Devon, you will be in charge of seeing if we can actually dig up some people from the military. Who knows?"

---

"So that's why I'm here at Eastern Headquarters, General Grumman. Perhaps you would be interested in becoming the leader of the Parliament – the Fuhrer, also known as the president of Amestris? You see, I have heard of your achievements both as a leader and a soldier, and I can have your name put on the list of candidates which we will vote upon – "

"No. Mr. Quier, as much as I am flattered by your determination to nominate me, I'm afraid I'm too old for such a position," said the General, shaking his head. "In fact, I might retire soon…I think I've done enough for this country as it is."

The corners of Devon's mouth turned down. "But, sir…then, do you have any recommendations? Anyone fit for the position? Are you sure you don't have any intentions of – "

Grumman shook his head adamantly. "I'm sure. However…there is one military officer, a brigadier general, whom you might want to consider. He is a very capable leader, and after he demoted himself after the disappearance of Bradley, we reinstated him as a general not too long ago, and he might just be up for a promotion to major general for his actions in the assault on Central. Of course, if you do choose him as your leader, then he'll have another big promotion. Plus, I think he has big plans for this country."

As he rattled off his reasons for choosing this particular military officer, Devon's eyes grew wider and wider with every word. But Grumman wasn't done yet.

"He is also a State Alchemist, a very able fighter. And from what I hear, he has quite a large impact on his followers. Remember his name – Brigadier General Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist."

Somehow, Devon knew that his interviewee would suggest Mustang. The guy did indeed have a lot of achievements under his belt, and his alchemy was a force to be reckoned with – not just his alchemy, actually.

"Well…in that case, all we need are his credentials and documents. And, we'll have to notify him about how he's being considered as the next Fuhrer of Amestris."

"Just…try not to get his hopes too high up," commented Grumman, smiling. "You know how Mustang likes power. Of course, if that was all he wanted, he wouldn't be in the military for long. Besides, you do have other candidates to consider, right? But truthfully, it is only Mustang I see serving as Fuhrer in the military. Perhaps my granddaughter, Riza Hawkeye, but she isn't exactly that kind of officer. Well, I wish you luck in your endeavors, Mr. Quier."

"I wish myself luck too," admitted Devon, scratching the back of his neck.

Grumman rested a hand on one of the young Parliament member's shoulders. "I can imagine that deciding who will be Bradley's successor can be a hard job. But I have confidence in the Parliament that they will find someone truly right for the position."

"In that case…that'll be all, sir," said Devon, bowing as he stood up and made his way out of the old general's office.

As the door closed behind Devon Quier, General Grumman leaned back in his seat.

"I know you'll be president, Mustang," he mused to himself. "I can't deny it. This could be your time to shine."