Author's Note: This was originally going to be four chapters showing the stories behind the pictures on Vol 15, page 169. The chapters: Jean Havoc, Kain Fuery, Vato Falman and Heymans Breda were the original chapters. It was expanded on request.
Roy Mustang was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel for being a "Hero of Ishval," and was assigned to East HQ under the command of Lt General Grumman. Grumman created an office for him and provided him with staffing requisitions for an aide, an enlisted man, and three officers. His job was to shore up the short-fall of State Alchemists after the Civil War and to relieve Grumman of whatever he didn't want to do.
Three interviews so far today, and every one of them a waste. Oh, they had looked good on paper: each one was a second or first lieutenant with excellent marksmanship skills. But every one had been in Ishval, every one had sucked up to him as a "Hero of Ishval," and every one had congratulated him for "giving those bastards what they deserved."
Just one more interview before lunch, and it looked like it was going to be more of the same. Another Ishval vet with excellent marksmanship skills. And looking at the transcript, he had barely managed to graduate from the Academy.
The young man saluted almost insolently when he reported for the interview and then took his seat.
Roy recognized him from the shooting range. The second lieutenant had always seemed to be there whenever Roy was passing by, and once, he had struck up a conversation with him.
"I'm from the eastern countryside, near where the civil war was fought," he'd said, when Roy had asked how he'd ended up in the military. "I wanted to do something to help, so I joined the Academy. I ain't the brightest, but I get by."
He started the interview with the usual question. "Why do you want to work for me?"
"I don't, sir," Havoc answered.
That was new.
"Then why are you here?" Roy asked, amused.
"You called me in, sir," he answered. "Guess there's been a mistake. Should I go now?" he asked, looking hopefully at the Lieutenant Colonel.
"Just a moment," Roy said, and looked at the folder with Havoc's Military History form again. Everyone on his list was supposed to be a volunteer, but sure enough, the block for "Source" on the Staff Requisition Form said "Requested by Officer," not "Volunteer." Then he saw the scribbled note from Maes paper-clipped to the form. "Worth checking out."
"Apparently, you've impressed a friend of mine," Roy said, noticing the hopeful expression fade from Havoc's face. "But maybe I'd better change my first question. Why don't you want to work for me?"
Because you're a stuck-up murdering bastard, thought Jean, but figured it wouldn't be too smart to say that out loud, so he just shrugged. "Guess I'd rather not work for another Ishval vet," he said.
Not the brightest was right, thought Roy. He wondered what Maes had seen in him.
"That's going to be pretty hard to avoid, as long as you're at East HQ. Are you looking for a transfer?"
"Well," said Jean, feeling like he was continuing to dig himself deeper, but not sure how to avoid it. "Let's just say I'd rather not work for a Hero of Ishval."
"Really?" Roy said. "You have a problem with what I did in Ishval, Second Lieutenant?"
Dammit, why couldn't the guy just take offense and let him leave? Maybe he'd have to say something he'd regret, and then he'd end up on KP for a month. Or demoted.
"I guess my problem is just with calling anyone involved with Ishval a hero at all, sir," Jean said. "I was on one of the cleanup teams that followed you Alchemists. We killed the survivors, whoever you guys missed. Men, women, children. By the time we got there, they were usually dying anyway. But sometimes we'd find a baby or a really young kid who was still alive and unhurt because its mother or father had covered it with their body."
He paused, then continued. "The first time I found one like that, I brought it back to our squad. The First Looie slit its throat because he didn't want to waste the bullet and told me not to bring another one back. After that, I shot the ones I found unhurt, too. Some guys just left them, but they were going to starve to death, anyway. A bullet to the head seemed less cruel."
Jean locked eyes with the Lieutenant Colonel, but Mustang didn't seem mad at him at all.
"Second Lieutenant Havoc," he said. "How would you like to make sure nothing like that ever happens again?"
Manga volume 15, p169
"I'm from the eastern countryside, near where the civil war was fought. I wanted to do something to help, so I joined the Academy. I ain't the brightest, but I get by."