A.N. Here it is! Fullmetal Firefly, newly rewritten and revised! The basic concept is the same, but I cleaned it up and changed pretty much all of the dialogue to have more FMA influence. I hope those who enjoyed the first one will like this version MUCH better. I sure did.
Chapter One - The Sacrifices We Made
"Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed."
The Alliance made their move at dusk, just as Colonel Roy Mustang expected they would. This planet-side siege on the lone world of Ishval had lasted far longer than anyone could have predicted and it seemed the new regime was no longer interested in waiting them out. It was all or nothing, here and now at the Battle of Serenity Valley.
Inch by inch, the Alliance soldiers were gaining ground on the last refuge of the Independents. Men and women sporting the long, brown coats they were named for fell beneath the onslaught and their dying cries seemed to reach the stars. Far above their heads, Alliance ships swooped low and their bullets ripped into everything in their path.
Roy leaned out from behind the barricade and took careful aim. With one snap of his fingers, the port engine of one of the ships exploded and sent the skiff into a tailspin. Browncoats all over the valley raised their guns and roared their approval when a column of fire in the distance announced the skiff's demise. Once again, Roy sent silent thanks to his mother for condemning him to eight years of hell with a cranky old alchemist she called a teacher. So many times the ancient science had been a deciding factor in this war and it looked like this battle would be no different.
The raven-haired colonel scrambled further back to join his fellow rebels and the disheveled soldiers gathered around him. All save for two men hunched over the communicator in the corner. Fuery was utterly focused on the voices in his headphones, so Roy gestured at Havoc for news. "Tell me the rest of the alchemists are on the way!"
Havoc grimaced around the cigarette in his mouth. "They're holding back, Colonel. Said they want to assess our status."
"Our status is we need some gorram alchemists!" Roy shouted. "If the Alliance mows us down here, our base is next and who the ruttin' hell will protect 'em then? Go tell them that!"
"Word for word?" Havoc inquired, sounding oddly hopeful.
"Word for word," Roy confirmed. "And tell Gran he's being a lazy ass while you're at it. Maybe that'll get him out here."
Havoc yanked the headphones of Fuery's head and tucked them around his own ears. Roy hoped to the bottom of his heart that the maniacal grin wasn't from hysteria and turned his attention to the rest of his subordinates.
Or what was left of them. Of his inner circle, only Riza Hawkeye, Jean Havoc and Kain Fuery were alive. All the others here were leaderless soldiers from scattered units and Roy pushed any thoughts about his missing comrades to the back of his mind. Thinking about it wouldn't bring them back.
"Lieutenant," Roy said, turning to Riza. "Get your squad to high ground and start picking 'em off."
Riza paused in the middle of reloading our rifle. "High ground? Where those ships will spot us like a bull's eye?"
"I'll take care of the skiffs," Roy promised. He tapped the transmutation circles on the back of his gloves. "These babies don't run out of ammo--"
A deafening explosion shook the base and everyone dropped to their stomachs as they were pelted with rubble. Roy shook the dirt from his eyes and scanned the faces around him. There was one less than before and everyone's eyes locked onto the dead body beside them.
"Just focus!" Roy barked.
Six pairs of hunted eyes stared at him and Roy racked his brain for some miraculous words that he hadn't already used in previous battles. Reminding them of why they were fighting wouldn't be enough. But nor could he reiterate what they stood to lose if the battle went south. Under these circumstances, the sacrifice of freedom and individuality wouldn't seem like so great a price to pay.
Roy knew better.
"The Alliance said they were gonna waltz through Serenity Valley," Roy began, meeting the eyes of every soldier. "And we choked 'em with those words! We have done the impossible and that makes us mighty!"
Good start. They were looking a little less green now. He just had to make them feel like the heroes they should be and not the disorganized band of rebels they really were.
"Just hold out a little longer!" Roy commanded. "We got twenty alchemists back there who've honed their skills just for days like these. And every one of you are gonna hold the line until they get here. Hear me? You hold!"
Another explosion rocked the base and Roy waved at the soldiers to get moving. Once they were outside, he moved to the front of the barricade and started scouting the sky for more skiffs to bring down.
"Not now, Hawkeye," Roy said vaguely, waving her back. A distant whine warned him that his target was approaching and he hopped on top of the barricade. "I'm right here, you arrogant cods!"
The skiff came in low, racing only yards above the barren land and coming straight toward him. Roy held up both his hands and snapped his fingers.
And there were no sparks.
The skiff extended its long-range guns.
Riza wrapped her arms around him and hauled him back just as bullets ate into the barricade where he had been standing. Roy cast a dazed look at her over his shoulder before looking down at his gloves. The threads were torn out of one, rendering the alchemic symbols unreadable, and the other was too stained with blood for the ignition-cloth to create a spark.
"How many times do I have to tell you to double check your gloves?" Riza snapped impatiently and put a rifle in his hands.
"They're normally okay!" Roy said defensively. "They're not like guns that need to be reloaded every thirty seconds!"
"And can last for more than one gorram battle!" Riza countered. "How many pairs have you ruined now?"
Roy shoved a cartridge into his rifle curtly. "Now that's just unfair! I ain't even--!"
"How many, sir?"
"Just the two?"
Riza rose up to check for approaching enemies beyond the barricade. "I'll cover you to that turret down there. Should be enough firepower left to get that last skiff. Miles more trustworthy than your archaic circles."
"Copy that," Roy grumbled. He crouched low behind the barricade, preparing to charge into the open. "Try to keep in mind, Lieutenant, not all of us are useless when we lose our circles. Have some faith in my kind."
"I have faith in you," Riza replied coolly. "Go now!"
She stood quickly and began shooting down the slope. Roy jogged down the hill in a half-crouch, shooting down soldiers right and left. Halfway down he took cover and waited for Riza to join him. The turret was guarded by two Alliance soldiers, who foolishly thought it best not to waste turret ammo on them. That was their last mistake. Riza sent them on their way with bullets in their skulls and Roy rushed down the hill to take his place on the turret.
The high-pitched noise returned and Roy spun the turret in that direction. The dark skiff bore down on him, wings slicing neatly through the dust clouds kicked up by the battle. Roy put the Alliance coat of arms directly between the crosshairs and opened fire.
"Go down, go down," Roy snarled.
Bullet after bullet pummeled the skiff, eating away at the polished metal until the wing finally broke away. The ship made one lazy rotation and took a nosedive. Roy ducked when it soared clean over him, smashing into the hill. Steel crumpled against the ground and bits of glass fell down the slope in a glittering rain.
"See that?!" Roy roared. "Think you'll make me into one of your mindless, law-abiding citizens? Just try it!"
"Sir," Riza said slowly. "We should go back up."
Roy nodded and slung his rifle over his shoulder. "Yeah. Reinforcements should be here soon."
Riza looked at him solemnly, gripping her rifle close to her chest. "No, Colonel. They should have been here already."
Oh. Good point.
The two soldiers trudged back up the hill to find Fuery huddled in a corner. His pale complexion was explained when they saw Havoc's bullet-ridden body beside the communicator. Roy bit back a curse and motioned for Riza to take his place. There was a lull in the battle now, but all hell would break loose once the Alliance forces had a chance to regroup.
"Fuery," Roy said quietly. He punched the man's shoulder lightly. "Hey, Fuery."
"We're gonna die, Colonel," Fuery whispered.
"Don't talk like that," Roy said firmly.
Fuery raised his head, looking at him in utter misery. "We are. We don't have the numbers or the firepower…"
"We've got the whole damn 'verse on our side," Roy told him. "Hell, we've held out for so long because we got alchemists on our side! That's more than those bastards across the valley can claim."
Still Fuery refused to look at him. Roy looked out over the barricade wall. How much time did they have before the Alliance made another assault?
Looking down at his shell-shocked subordinate, he decided there was plenty of time. He bunkered down beside Fuery and stripped off his glove, holding it up so the ruined circle was visible. "Know what this is?"
"Alchemy," Fuery said dully.
"And you know the first law of alchemy?"
Fuery shook his head weakly. Roy traced a finger around the circle. "Equivalent Exchange. It's not just the law of alchemy, it's the law of the entire 'verse. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost."
He clapped a hand on Fuery's shoulder. "You see all the bodies out there? That's only a fraction of what we lost in this war. And the universe is not gonna let that go to waste. Freedom comes at a steep price and without that price, we wouldn't have even gotten this far. Once the rest of our people roll in--"
"They're not coming."
Roy's heart stopped. Riza looked up from the communicator, clasping the headphones so hard her knuckles were white.
"What do you mean they're not coming?" Roy demanded. "They got to come! Do they want to lose this war?!"
To his devastation, Riza nodded grimly. "Gran betrayed us," she said shakily. "He's murdered our leaders."
"W-What about the others?" Roy faltered. "The other alchemists…?"
Riza shook her head, looking sick. "All of our alchemists…they've defected. They joined the Alliance. We're to lay down arms."
Roy rose to his feet in a daze, gazing up into the darkened sky as a slow and steady roar filled the air. Dozens of Alliance cruisers descended from the stars, so large and powerful that they made the skiffs he took down look like butterflies. Some landed on the planet to drop off hundreds of Alliance foot soldiers while the rest stayed aloft, raining down fire and death on the rebels. All over the valley, Browncoats were throwing down their weapons and crying out for mercy.
Beside him, Fuery was shot down by a stray bullet. Riza shouted at him to take cover. But Roy could only stand there, watching helplessly as the universe he gave up so much to protect came crashing down.
A.N. I feel soooo much better about this story now! That first draft deserved to be burned up by Roy's gloves and then sliced and diced with Ed's blade-arm-thing. More chapters coming!