WOUNDED KNEE – by BandGeek99
This was fun. Hard, but fun. Especially since it had to be done in one night… O_o I'm sooo not used to writing like that. But it was fun.
This is a sort of snapshot-style story, which is why it's so weird in time changing and stuff. If it weren't so short, I would be able to get into more character POVs on different issues and stuff, but this was all I had energy for… Sorry… And there's death, too. Just figured I'd warn you, so you weren't surprised (you probably wouldn't be, anyhow. It's so poorly written...!!)
This was written for school, my American History course to be exact, that had to depict something from the era of Expansion, be it reservation life, the Spanish-American war, Panama canal, mining life, etc. So I chose reservation life for the Sioux. Sorry if it sucks, some constructive criticism is appreciated.
Alternate universe for obvious reasons, written to take place in the late 1880's in the United States of America, the Dakota Territory. Sorry if it offends or anything, hope it doesn't.
The sounds and smells of people filled the town center where the agency was located. Children screamed and played, women gossiped, men stood around and talked of days gone by. Horses slowly hauled wagons full of goods from one place to another and people traded, laughed, sang, and generally mingled about in the blazing summer heat of the Dakota Territory.
This was the sight that greeted a group of volunteers, fresh from Boston, who rode up in a long covered wagon.
The vehicle was driven by a tall, lithe-looking blond with sleepy blue eyes and boyish good looks. He yawned, taking the reins in one hand as he pushed long wisps of hair from his face. "Fletcher," he called loudly as he halted the oxen. "Get our stuff together and wake everyone. We made it."
There was an affirmative response from within the wagon as the young man stood to a full height of six feet and two inches. He lifted his arms and yawned, silently thinking, It's good to be here. Finally.
"Russell, I've woken everyone. They'll all be out in a few minutes," a young boy said, climbing out of the wagon and running around to where the driver stood. He seemed to be a miniature of the blond, with a softer and more innocent look to him. He was only ten or eleven years old.
The taller blond, Russell, grinned. "Excellent, little brother."
"Mr. Tringham, we've arrived, have we?" a tiny old lady asked, peeking around the back of the wagon.
"Yes, Mrs. Rockbell. Welcome to the Sioux reservation, Pine Ridge." Russell grinned and jumped down from the wagon's front. He ruffled his younger brother's hair and waltzed towards the back of the vehicle. "I'm sorry we ended up taking longer that we anticipated."
She waved a hand and scoffed. "Think nothing of it, Russell."
He nodded. "Right, ma'am." He passed her and opened the flap at the rear of the wagon. "Are you all coming?"
"Yeah, yeah," came the reply.
"Edward, manners!" a woman hissed and there was a dull "thwack".
"Jesus Christ, Winry!" the same person yelped. "What was that for?!"
There was another thwack and some cursing followed before the woman yelled "Edward! Shut your trap, you understand?! I hit you because you were being rude!"
"You hit me with Al's medical dictionary! Do you have any clue how heavy that is?!"
"Heavier than a wrench, I'll guess," she responded and Russell heard a third party sigh.
A thin young man with shaggy sandy brown hair jumped from the back of the wagon, narrowly missing Russell. He didn't seem too much older than Russell, and he was very nearly as tall. "How I put up with the two of them I'll never know," he sighed as the bickering continued. It was only then he seemed to register that he had almost landed on the blond. "Ah, sorry, Russell," he said, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment.
"Don't worry about it, Alphonse," Russell replied. "Would you mind helping Fletcher tie up the oxen while I get the lovebirds?"
"Sure," Alphonse said happily. "Not a problem."
"Excellent. Thanks," Russell said, watching the other retreat.
"Yep," Alphonse said, disappearing beyond the wagon.
Mrs. Rockbell, a tiny woman with a large, beak-like nose, spectacles, and graying brown hair pulled back into a tight bun, stepped beside the elder Tringham. She raised a solitary eyebrow as she listened to the bickering still happening inside the wagon. "That poor man is going to have dents in his head if she keeps throwing books at him."
Russell chortled uneasily, knowing that the woman chucking books inside the vehicle was scarily similar to Mrs. Rockbell. "I think he might already have one."
She laughed. "You're probably right, Mr. Tringham! Now what do you say we get them out of there so I can go sit down? I'm getting old, son, and my knees aren't what they used to be."
Russell nodded. "Of course, ma'am." With that, he climbed up and into the wagon.
It was cramped and dimly lit, barely high enough for Russell to stand in, but the two "lovebirds" had no problem standing, both seemingly at each other's throat.
The first of the two was a young man, slightly older than Russell but of a shorter, more muscular physique, with long, unruly golden hair pulled into a high ponytail. He had brown-gold eyes that glared daggers at the woman in front of him, his handsome face scowling severely.
The woman in question was willowy with long arms, long blonde hair, and blue eyes that, were it possible, would have killed the slightly taller man she was fighting with. A trunk was open at her feet, filled with books, some of which Russell noticed had already been hurled at her companion. She grasped a hardcover edition of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" in her right hand, poised to throw it.
Russell had to bite back his laughter. Seeing the young lady so upset, throwing books even, was unheard of, and yet, this was a common occurrence. Stranger still was the fact that the shorter blond man was actually putting up with it.
"Edward, Miss Rockbell," he said, trying hard not to laugh. "It's time for us to head out. Your grandmother is getting tired, and besides, we need to get settled sometime soon."
Miss Rockbell smiled innocently over to Russell. "Oh, of course. Please, excuse us." With that, she took two steps forward, whacked Edward across the head with the novel, then promptly flounced past the two young men and out of the wagon.
"She's got good aim, hm?" Russell asked as Edward muttered obscenities under his breath while he righted himself.
"She's the devil's spawn, I'm sure of it," he muttered, stomping past the taller one of the two and jumping out of the wagon. "Damn Winry! Can't stand the woman!"
"If you can't stand her then how can you be in love with her?" Russell asked.
Edward turned and his demeanor changed. "I ask myself that all the time. I guess I'll never know," he said with a laugh and a sheepish shrug. With that, he turned to the street filled with Sioux and called, "Hey, Al! Alphonse! Where did you get off to?"
"Don't worry about your brother, he's with Fletcher," Russell said, shoving his hands into his pockets and taking a deep breath of the summer air. "Finally, I get to stretch my legs."
Edward stretched his arms high above his head, yawning loudly. "Feels good to be out of that wagon." He meandered across the street to the agency building where the two Rockbell women were waiting on the porch.
The younger of the two smiled innocently at him, still holding the thick novel in her hands while the elderly woman gave him a smirk.
Edward gulped. "These women will be the death of me," he mumbled.
Russell laughed and stepped past the two ladies, opening and holding the door for them.
The four entered, unsure of what awaited them at the Pine Ridge reservation.
What they found was a man in his late twenties or early thirties sitting behind a large mahogany desk, looking over papers. He was sharp featured with short black hair that hung ever so slightly in front of his eyes. Coal colored eyes took in the newcomers with a long, calculating look and his pale face was placid and unreadable. The plaque on the front of his desk read "Roy Mustang".
"Mr. Mustang," Edward said in an authoritative tone. "It is a pleasure to meet you. I'm Edward Elric, this is Russell Tringham, my fiancé Winry Rockbell, and her grandmother Pinako Rockbell." The two women nodded in acknowledgement and Russell stepped forward as his name was called.
"Ah, so you're the doctor's entourage?" Mustang asked, rising from his seat. His voice was deep and commanding, and from the smirk on his face, Edward could tell that he would have to work hard not to beat his pompous mug into the dirt.
"Yes, sir," Edward said, biting back his urge to spit at the dark-haired man.
"Excellent. I'm Roy Mustang; it's a pleasure to meet you all. I'm the agent in charge here at Pine Ridge." He shook Russell and Edward's hands. "How was the journey in?"
"Long," Russell answered honestly.
Mustang barked with laughter, reminding Edward very much of a great, shaggy mutt of some kind. "I'm sure! You're all from Boston, am I right?"
"Yes, sir, that's it," Edward said stiffly, hastily folding his hands behind his back.
"Excellent, excellent. You should fit in with Benjamin Barker, he's the barber here. Hails from Malden, round the same area, hm?"
"Yes, sir," Russell said, following Edward's example.
"Good, good. Now, I suppose you'd like to see where you'll be staying?" Mustang said, emerging from behind the desk. He was taller than Edward by a good four inches, reaching the same height of Russell.
"If it's not too much trouble," Mrs. Rockbell said, finally making herself known. "I'd rather like to give my old bones a rest."
Mustang gave her the fakest smile any of the newcomers had ever seen. "Of course, madam. Right this way."
He left the agency building and led the four down the crowded main street.
The Native Americans parted as thought they had the plague, watching the newcomers with expressions that varied from curiosity to mild resentment to full out rage. Winry crept closer to Edward, grabbing his fingers with a free hand and holding on tightly.
Alphonse and Fletcher had found them by the time they'd reached a small, run-down shack on the outskirts of the settlement's center. The door hinge squeaked loudly as it opened and shut and Edward feared that the sagging wooden floors would fall in under the weight of seven people, four of them strapping men.
"This is it," Roy Mustang said, leading the group through the small house and into a room lined with shelves and dusty bottles. Abandoned and outdated medical books lay haphazardly around the room and the windows were filthy, cooked, or broken.
Alphonse was aghast. "There's no examination table?" he asked with a slight stutter.
"We manage without around here," Mustang said, his fake smile once again plastered on his face.
"Indeed," Edward said darkly, folding his arms across his face and furrowing his brow.
"We've this cod liver oil left from the last man," Mustang said, striding over to a small collection of crates in the corner. "And we've some alcohol to clean with, as well as some old apothecary equipment."
"I see," Edward said, breaking free of the group and slowly making his way around the room, taking in the sub-par conditions the makeshift doctor's office held. "Very well. Thank you, Mr. Mustang. Even this is much appreciated."
Mustang nodded. "If you don't mind, you'll have to excuse me. I have paperwork to fill out."
"If you find yourself in need of anything, please, feel free to head down to the rations office. Just ask for a Vato Falman or a Jean Havoc. They're in charge there, I'm sure they'll only be too happy to help." With that, Mustang left, giving the ladies a curt nod and a silent wave as he did so.
As soon as the front door shut behind him, Edward said, "That's one pompous ass if ever I saw one. Reminds me of Dad."
"Edward!" both Winry and Alphonse scolded, leaving Fletcher lost and confused while Mrs. Rockbell and Russell laughed.
"You looked just like your father for a second," the old woman said with a chuckle.
"What?! Like him?! No!" Edward protested.
Alphonse groaned, slapping his forehead with his palm. His older brother always got this way when their father was mentioned. "Brother, let's just get to work on cleaning this place up, alright?"
"Fine, Al," Edward said grumpily, making his way towards the exit.
It took almost two days, but after much work on the part of everyone in the small house, the Pine Ridge Agency Doctor's Office was finally fit to live in.
That same day, Edward and Winry left the house to pick up some rations which they had unintentionally overlooked, such as thicker blankets, food, and a few new pairs of clothes, especially for Fletcher who seemed to tear and ruin his trousers every other day.
As they walked through the town, sticking out like a pair of sore thumbs, Edward had wrapped his right arm firmly around his fiancé's waist. The two talked of political affairs in Washington, debating the growing tensions with foreign nations over the protection of South America and with Spain over the small country of Cuba.
"Are you sure you're alright with coming out here?" Edward asked, drastically changing the subject from the topic of politics. His brown-gold eyes bore deeply and concernedly into Winry's. "I know it's not ideal. I know you wanted to go back to Vermont, raise a family out in Resembool. We could go back home, you know. I'm just here to help out where I can at the agency, I'm not tied down, Win."
She laughed at him. "Don't be silly, Edward."
"I've decided to apply for a job as a teacher at one of the schools here," she said brightly, grinning. "These children need a teacher, and I'm happy to help out."
Edward was slightly surprised, expecting her to ask him to go home. "You sure?"
"Of course. Now, let's not worry about that. You remember what we need?" Winry asked as the two of them neared the rations office.
"Yeah, course I do," he replied, holding the door open for her.
The two of them entered and looked around the dimly-lit room. Edward spotted a tall man with grey hair behind the counter, shuffling through papers.
"Excuse me," Winry said, approaching the counter. "We're here to see Mr. Vato Falman or Mr. Jean Havoc."
"I'm Falman," the grey-haired man said, looking up from his papers. "May I help you?"
"I'm Winry Rockbell, this is Edward Elric. We were told to come down here to pick up some flour, sugar, beef, and some clothing," the young woman said, leaning on the counter heavily.
"Yes, of course," the man said, turning to the stocks behind him. "How much food and what size clothes?"
"Five pounds sugar, eight pounds flour, five pounds of beef, and some clothes that would fit a growing eleven-year-old," Edward said, placing his hand over Winry's. "And a pair of boots, please."
The man nodded stiffly and placed the food on the counter. "The clothes will be a moment." With that, he turned and left for one of the back rooms.
Edward lifted the meat and unwrapped it, examining it. The beef seemed… off to him. Gross, even. He showed it to the woman beside him. "Does this seem strange to you?" he asked.
Winry, who was known for her cooking skills back in New England, frowned. "Somehow… yes."
He frowned and wrapped it back up again, mentally noting not to trust it.
Falman reentered the room and dropped a small bundle of clothing atop the counter. "Ration tickets?"
"Here," Edward said, fishing into his pocket and pulling out tickets that Mustang had given him.
"Thank you. You're all set, sir," Falman said boredly, turning back to his papers.
"The boots?" Edward prompted.
The man gave him a blank look before it dawned on him. "Ah, yes, of course. What size?"
"Twelve men's, please."
Falman crouched and rummaged around under the counter before dropping a thick pair of leather boots on the countertop. "My mistake."
Edward shoved a few dollars across the countertop and, after briefly thanking the grey-haired man, left with Winry.
PART 2 will be up soon.