From A to Z
Chapter One; Aadi
Meaning: Beginning – Origin: France
The brisk morning air of early November brought more than just the oranges and yellows of fall with it. Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye pulled her jacket tighter around her frame, trying to ward off some of the chill that was creeping through the thin material. Though civilian clothing was more comfortable than the military uniforms, she found herself missing the thick blue fabric.
Not many people were out that morning (though the sensible person wouldn't often be up at the crack of dawn as she was), and Riza tugged at the brim of the hat she was wearing unconsciously as the streets began to fill. At this rate the cars would start roaming the streets and she would be even later coming into work than she was already.
Considering the amount of unfamiliar roads she had to traverse that day, she was a few minutes earlier than she expected, though all hopes of coming in on time were dashed when she spotted a familiar mop of black hair cresting that morning's newspaper.
"I thought you were ordered not to come here, sir," she stated as she stopped in front of the newspaper. The knuckles that were visible whitened as pressure to the paper was increased.
"You're late," Colonel Roy Mustang responded, continuing to hold the paper instead of look at her. "I thought you were inside the Den already."
"Sir, we've gone over this before," Riza continued, deciding to disregard his statement. "I'm the one who is infiltrating the Thieves while you help the military with law enforcement."
"I believe that we've also gone over how I want to make sure that you're alright," Roy countered, folding his newspaper carefully and refusing the meet her gaze. "You're dressed as a man, you're living with a bunch of criminals for God knows how long –"
"I thought you didn't believe in God, sir." Riza cast her gaze around the empty street. Not many people came down this particular rode in Flourspar, not only did the current band of rebels known as the Bluecrest Thieves make their residence there, but a few other shady businesses had also nested in the secluded area. The Lieutenant carefully adjusted her hat in one of these windows, making sure that only her bangs showed.
"That's not the point, Hawkeye," Roy growled, continuing to fold the newspaper. "I don't see why I'm not allowed to join you in this mission, at least then you'd have at least some sort of backup if things got ugly."
"Your alchemy's too distinctive," Riza responded as she turned back to him. "Besides, it's supposed to rain for most of this week."
They both stood there for a few seconds, Roy continuing to fold and unfold the newspaper while Riza made sure no one was watching them.
"I'm not useless," he mumbled a few moments later, catching a slight upward turn of Riza's lips at the comment.
"Only in the rain, sir," she responded before turning away from him and heading towards the large building that held the Thieves. Dubbed 'The Den' the imposing building was placed directly in the middle of the street, dwarfing the two much smaller structures next to it.
"Be careful," he warned as she mounted the steps, and he received a nod before she opened the door and disappeared inside. Roy stared after her for a few moments before moving over a few feet (away from a majority of the windows in the Den) and opened up the newspaper again, humming to himself as he scanned an article he'd already read two times prior.
The interview was just beginning, and Riza had practiced the set of lies she was using so many times, she was confident she could recite them in her sleep. The problem was the Flourspar military and herself had never decided on her name.
Quickly calming herself, she took a quick inventory of the room. A desk, lamp, book shelf, unlabeled books, the Thieves' Chief (looking quite menacing with the glower he was giving her for taking so long to answer), the drapes, the window pane, the window…
Roy Mustang standing outside reading the newspaper, even when she had told him to return to base! She couldn't protect him from inside the Den, and she was almost certain that a storm cloud was starting to drift over the town.
"Roy," she blurted, continuing to stare out the window.
"Roy what?" The Chief questioned, Riza's eyes snapping to him as he voiced his query.
"Roy Falcon, sir," she responded quickly, resisting the urge to tuck her hands into her lap.
The Chief jotted something down on the paper, running a hand through his graying brown hair thoughtfully. "What about your age?"
Riza stiffened instinctively at the mention of her age, though she thought better of avoiding the subject. "About twenty-six, sir."
"You'll be one of the youngest if you make the cut," Chief muttered to himself thoughtfully, "though I'm not one to discriminate on account of how many years one has under their belt."
"That's good to know, sir," Riza replied, relaxing slightly when the next question was not about how much she weighed.
"What do you specialize in, Falcon?"
"I'm a sniper, sir. I work the best with guns."
For once, the man managed a grin as he regarded the Lieutenant. "We're in need of a good shot, Finch is good, but even he has his faults."
"I hope I live up to your expectations." She cast a glance out of the window again, grinding her teeth when she noticed that Roy was still reading just outside of the Den.
"Something interesting outside the window?" Chief asked in amusement; Riza quickly shook her head.
"No, sir! I was just admiring the day was all." It was a beautiful day, and Riza hoped that the truth of the statement would make the Chief avoid looking out the window.
"It is a nice day isn't it, Falcon?" The older man continued to smile. "The men are still out running, the Den's usually much louder than this when they're in."
"What time are you expecting them back, sir?" Riza asked, gaze flickering to Roy once more.
"In an hour," he responded as he jotted down a few more words on the sheet of paper on his desk. "I should have decided by then whether you're staying or leaving."
"That's good to know, sir."
The interview continued without a hitch, and Riza was thankful when they got up to head to the shooting galley in the basement to assess her skills. She had attempted not to look out the window for the past hour, and just as she was heading out of the Chief's office, her eyes found the glass once more and the man through it.
This time he wasn't alone.
Roy had shoved the newspaper in his pocket and was attempting to talk his way out of a confrontation with the four men who were surrounding him. Apparently whatever lie he was telling them wasn't working for the tallest man in the group grabbed him by the collar and hauled him into the building.
The door slammed shut with a bang, and the Chief stopped in his tracks. Riza was close behind him, anxiously trying to think of a way to get Roy out of the mess he'd landed himself in.
"Chief!" A man with bushy brown hair rounded the corner, waving a greeting to his commander. He was sweating and wore running gear like the three other men that were behind him. "We caught this man loitering. He looks like he's attempting to spy on us."
"I assure you I was doing no such thing," Roy grunted as his collar was released. "All I was doing was reading the morning paper."
"We know what you were doing, don't deny it!"
"Dewey, calm down," the Chief sighed, and the brown haired man took a step back from Roy obediently. "How do you all know that this man wasn't just reading the newspaper?"
"He kept looking into the window, Chief," a man with straight blonde hair replied hesitantly from the back of the group. "I think he was trying to figure out who the new recruit was."
"You're right Jim, he was looking at the new guy." The tallest of the group of four commented, passing a hand through his red hair before looking down at Roy. "What exactly does this fellow have to do with you?" He asked, gesturing to Riza.
"He's Ralph," Riza interjected before anything else could be said; "he's a good friend of mine and wanted to be sure I was alright on my first day." The six men in the corridor all looked to her.
"We can't very well let him go now that you four have showed him who we are," the Chief murmured thoughtfully as he rubbed his chin in thought. "I suppose if he's of any use we could test him along with Roy here." Roy's head turned at the mention of his name, but the Chief didn't seem to notice it.
"Ralph's an alchemist," Riza continued easily. "I'm sure he'd be of use if you let him join as well."
The Chief nodded and turned abruptly, gesturing for Riza and Roy to follow him down the hall. "Dewey, Jim, Thompson, Finch," the four Thieves snapped to attention, "you all shower up and meet me in the shooting galley. I'll test Roy and his friend Ralph here to make sure that they can hold their own."
The members of the Thieves disappeared, and Roy and Riza had to hurry to catch up with the Chief as he walked down the halls. The house was like a maze, full of identical corridors filled with photographs and paintings and servants stairwells that would make even the most level headed person claustrophobic. The three walked down one of these stairways, the Chief walking ahead calmly while Roy wished he had remembered to bring his gloves and Riza's hand drifted to her holster.
The basement was almost devoid of light, and the Chief strode confidently through the darkness and turned on a light, bathing a small gym in the fluorescent rays. Mirrors lined one side of the room while a small shooting range was opposite from the stairway they had just come down. Small cubbies with names were on the wall parallel to the mirrors, and a set of double doors rested just next to them.
"If you will be so kind as to demonstrate your shooting, Roy?" The Chief asked. The actual Roy glanced at Riza in confusion and she managed a small shrug before walking over to the range.
Deftly, she pulled out the gun and clicked off the safety before aiming at one of the targets on the wall. "How many shots?" She asked.
"Five," the Chief responded.
Gunfire filled the air as the four missing Thieves lined back into the room, hair damp from the showers they took. They lined up next to Roy, watching with some interest as Riza stopped firing and lowered her gun.
The Chief walked over and grabbed the target before walking back with it and displaying it to the men. All shots had gone directly through the target areas: the head, heart, stomach, and the kneecaps. A collective whistle went up, and Roy managed to keep his pride for his lieutenant's skill under wraps as the Chief gestured for her to join them.
"Very good marksmanship, Falcon," he complimented, "you're in."
"Thank-you, sir," she responded with a small semblance of a smile. "Will you be testing Ralph next?"
Roy reached into his pockets and produced a stick of chalk, watching the Chief expectantly to see if he had any requirements.
"Go ahead, Ralph," the Chief nodded, gesturing to a free corner.
Roy walked over, and contemplated the surface for a few moments before he chalked a transmutation circle onto the wall. He checked it with a glance before pressing his hands onto it, the alchemic lightning brightening the room before dissipating and leaving a man-sized tunnel out of the basement and into the backyard above.
"Very good, Ralph," the Chief grinned, "can you close it up?"
"Of course," Roy responded confidently, already starting on the second transmutation circle. When that was activated, the tunnel was sealed, and after checking to make sure everything was perfect, Roy walked back over to the group.
"So did I make it?" He asked the Chief hopefully. The older man nodded, and applause broke out from the other Thieves.
"Welcome to the group you two," a man with bushy brown hair said, clapping both of them on the back. "I'm Dewey Davis, your resident lock picker."
The tall redhead stepped forward next. "Richard Thompson, Second in Command," he introduced himself after shaking both of their hands. "Congratulations on getting in."
"Donald Finch," the next man introduced himself, his black hair slicked back with some sort of grease. "That guy over there is James Green; he doesn't talk much." James had blonde hair, and managed to wave at the two of them with a sheepish smile. "And Chief Davidson is our Commander."
The Chief stepped forward at his introduction, and the Thieves parted to let him through.
"I'm afraid we only have one open room right now," he confessed with some embarrassment. "The other rooms are either falling apart, coated in dust, or currently in use, so you'll have to share a room or find residence somewhere close to here."
"Sharing a room is fine," Roy supplied; Riza nodded in ascent as well.
"Finch'll show you the way to your room then," Chief Davidson replied and Finch stepped forward with a grin. "We have a mission tomorrow so you all should get your rest." A collective groan came up from the Thieves. "That's an order."
The Chief left the basement, and most of the Thieves wandered off soon as well, leaving only Roy, Riza, and Finch.
"Alright you two, if you would follow me," Finch started off towards the stairs, "we can get you both settled in and me out of the Den before the Chief decides to call curfew."
Finch led the way up the stairs, and Roy and Riza followed.
Author's Notes; Well I hoped you liked it! I've been tossing this idea around for a while now, and have just gotten up the courage to jot it down and submit it. I know it's not much right now, but the next chapter will kick off the start of the plot, give you a better feel for these Thieves, and give you a better idea of what Roy and Riza are going to face.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to leave a review!