New York was always one of the coldest cities in North America during the winter, and especially the winter of 2010, where Maria was standing next to a pole in the middle of the subway car, waiting for Grand Central Station.
She had been Christmas shopping. Her mother, an artist that painted for advertisements and children's books, asked simply for more paint and more brushes. And her little sister asked for absolutely anything Barbie. And it was paints and a couple of Barbies that Maria had bought on her shopping trip. That, and a few extra scarves.
Her parents divorced right after her little sister, who is now eight, was born. And it was sad. Losing one of the strongest male figures in one's life is always sad. But the fact that he asked her mother to keep the children and he'd much rather pay child support and send cards two weeks after their birthday was sadder. He had remarried three months after the divorce was final, and has a new family in a better part of town. Maria flinched as one of the bright lights from a station flashed her in the eyes, but she attempted to ignore it and situate her bags. Her father had asked her to stay with him and his new family for the weekend-it had been her first time-and this was why she was carrying a large duffle bag and three shopping bags, and her purse. She had debated on just going shopping tomorrow, but Christmas was only a week away and tomorrow marked the urgent shopping last minute season, and she didn't want to be a part of that.
She attended a dance school in the middle of Manhattan and tended to wear baggy fashion clothes and tight pants almost everyday at school. Her legs were long and her body was slim because they had to be, and her whole stature was short, because it was easier for her to be thrown and tossed by her dance partner, and her face was clear thanks to her strict diet and exercise. At that moment her brown hair was tied in a loose knot at the base of her head with earmuffs covering her ears from the snow outside, and her small hands had two pairs of gloves on them. She was just about to finish her last year of high school and would then go to Julliard, her dream university, and become a dancer.
She was surprised at how long the train was taking. Granted, it was late. She had taken advantage of late night shopping in New York, but had forgotten the fact that the trains tend to go slower at night. Sighing, she pulled out her cellphone and texted her mother to let her know that she was running late. The message came through as failed, and she could see no bars on the upper right corner. That was also very likely; she was going through a tunnel.
And why would Maria pay attention to where she's going? She had gone on the New York trains all her life. The sounds that the train was making was enough to tell her where she was, let alone just a quick glance out the window and at the graffiti was enough. Even the gentle and smooth sway of the train indicated to Maria where she was; was she turning? Was she stopping? Was she going on the older tracks, which made the entire car sway left and right quickly? Or was she near the country, on which a gentle upwards turn was enough to tell her? No, at the moment, it was rocky and shaky. Which was odd. Maria had never been on these tracks before.
Actually, now that she glanced outside the window to see which graffiti she saw, she realized there was no graffiti. Only brick surrounding the train. And when she finally left the tunnel and got a glimpse of what was outside the train, she closed her eyes quickly because of a bright light. Why would it be daytime? It was 7pm, later even, when she got on the train. Maybe she had gotten onto a wrong platform? That still wouldn't explain the hour of the day, though it possibly could explain why she wasn't in the city anymore, but a vast grassy land. Looking around herself, Maria noted that the carriage of which she was standing was not the boring beige and gray color of New York, but a vibrant brown with old fashioned benches and tables between them. The windows were of thin glass and much larger, allowing the light to shine through across the entire vehicle, and the ceiling was much taller, causing the entire thing to emit one large echo. Echoes which were very loud and hard to understand; that pressed against her and forced her to press herself back against one of the walls, shivering. Where on earth was she?
"This way, General!" A gruff voice called out from another carriage. Maria panicked and in a fit of desperation, started to shove her belongings and herself under one of the benches provided for the passengers; particularly easy for someone of her petit stature and flexibility.
She watched as a group of four pairs of feet covered with thick black boots and royal blue pants shoved into them waltzed into the carriage. They all stopped and Maria heard a door close.
"Nobody's in here, General."
There was a pause, and a smooth and forceful voice said, "We've searched the train from the back to here. There's three more left until we get to the front, which is where I expect her to be. Armstrong, I want you to stay in this carriage. I'll go up to the first and you two will each stay behind in a carriage. Just in case."
"She's used her alchemy already…" The smooth voice said, and Maria watched as one pair of feet swiveled to get a three-sixty view of the carriage, "This carriage has been disturbed…"
"I assume a Philosopher's Stone." The voice cut off, "But for what, I don't know…" And the feet landed so that they were facing away from Maria, she let out a breath of relief, "She's a lunatic." The voice continued, and the feet moved to the opposite door of which they entered and opened it, allowing two other pairs of feet to go through the door, and the voice stopped and the feet faced the remaining pair, "Don't hesitate to take her life, Major."
"Yes sir." And the door was closed.
They were talking about Maria, she knew it. She didn't know what alchemy was but she was sure that they were after her. There was no other person than her on this train; she was sure of that. They were going to kill her.
Panic rose in her chest as she watched the largest and remaining pair of feet patrol the small carriage. They were monstrous, and the man whom they belonged to seemed to be the silent killer type. Peeking under one of the seats, Maria saw that the man was large, with blonde hair and the hardest face she'd ever seen. It was true; she was going to die tonight. Or today. Whatever time it was.
There was a sharp turn and a bang at the front of the train, causing Maria's head to collide into the wall of the carriage and she watched as her purse flew up from where it was next to her head into the middle of the floor. Her vision started to flood while the large pair of boots before her started to head to the door that the other three had exited. But she shook her head and rubbed her neck to check if anything was broken; nothing was, and she scrambled from where she was to retrieve her purse since the carriage was finally empty.
There was something happening in the carriage before her, but Maria ignored it and started to pick up her cosmetics. If for some reason she lost her cellphone to a stupid train fight and lived to tell the tale, she'd kill someone.
Gathering everything and checking to make sure it was all in her purse was enough of a task for Maria on a moving and jerking train with a fight happening in the carriage before her. She was sure she just saw fire. Looking up and seeming calm when the door opened to an older man with short jet black hair and sharp eyes was a whole different task; one that she failed. Throwing her purse on the ground, she yelled, "I promise! I didn't do it!"
The man with the black hair stopped abruptly and stared at Maria. He only turned his ear to the carriage behind him when a loud and gruff voice yelled out, "She's gone, General! We lost her!"
"Armstrong, Falman, Havoc, come here!" The man yelled. And Maria watched as three men showed their faces behind their General. One of the men was the one of which Maria saw while she was hiding under the bench, the one with the blonde hair and the hard face, another one with a duller blonde hair and a more relaxed and kind face, and finally a one that was standing straighter than the others and with gray hair, all staring at the girl in front of them. It was the one with dull blond hair and the cigarette in his mouth that said, "What is she wearing?"
Maria glanced down at her clothes. Just a pair of skinny jeans and one of her baggy shirts and a pair of snow boots. Not to mention her thick jacket and her scarves and earmuffs that she seemed to have forgotten since entering the new train. But the man with the black hair didn't seem to notice her clothes, for he started to walk towards her. Maria flinched and started to take a step back, but the man stopped before she could, "I'm Brigadier General Roy Mustang." The General said, "Most of the time they just call me General." He held out his hand to Maria.
Maria reached out her hand slowly and allowed Mustang to shake it firmly before saying, "Maria Heiderich." She said softly.
"Well, Maria!" Mustang said, and he turned to point at the soldiers behind him, "That is Major Alex Armstrong, Lieutenant Voto Falman, and Lieutenant Jean Havoc." And he pointed to each respectfully, "They're my team."
"Pleased to meet you, Maria!" Said Armstrong, and he waltzed over to fervently shake her hand. The other two nodded and smiled.
"So." Mustang said, "Heiderich, mind if I call you that? You seem a little bit out of place. Where do you think you are?"
"I'm in New York. Or.." Maria glanced around, "I thought I was in New York…"
"What is New York?" Mustang asked. And for the first time, Maria noticed that the train had stopped.
"It's a city." Maria said softly.
"And what year is it?"
There was a giggle from behind Mustang, to which he turned around and said, "Stop that. You'll make her nervous."
"Where am I?" Maria suddenly said, "I'm not in New York, am I?"
"No." Mustang said, but he didn't get the chance to explain.
"I've got to call my mother!" Maria yelled, and she pulled out her cellphone. It was a smart phone, and thus there was no flip or dial, but a quick, "Mom!" that she yelled into the receiver. The dull blond murmured something about possibly pressing a button, but was overshadowed my Maria holding the phone up to her ear and listening. There was a pause, in which she pulled the phone from her ear and glanced at it, "I have no bars."
"…No bars?" Mustang said.
"No reception." She explained. "I can't call home…"
"General." Came the voice of the man with gray hair, who had been silent up to this point, "Maybe we should take her to Central Command. She's not fit to wonder around on her own."
"And do what with her?" Mustang said, turning around to face Falman, "Give her a tour of the city?"
"You're not suggesting we leave her here, General?"
"She'd be safer." Mustang mused, but then he glanced at Maria, "But we would like to know how you got here."
"By train." Maria said, "I was just on the subway, and I went through a tunnel and got here."
Mustang looked at his men, "Did we go through a tunnel, boys?"
"Just before coming into this carriage, sir."
"Heiderich…" Mustang said quietly, "I've heard that name before."
"Sir, the train will leave in two minutes."
"Alright, alright." Mustang said sharply, while pointing to under the bench at Maria's bags, "Grab those. Come on, Heiderich. Let's go check the records."
Maria was led off the train station and through the busy streets of Central. She was completely quiet, only glancing around her to look at the other inhabitants of the city. Most of them looked back, shocked and confused by what she was wearing, but overall unresponsive with military soldiers surrounding her. Maria was sure she heard whispering about who she was, where she came from, and what she was wearing, but she chose to ignore it. She was just in a stupid country town, that's all. And no one in country towns knew the brands she was wearing or the name of the words on her bags. Things like "Macy's" and "Barbie" and "Hollister" would be, to Maria, a foreign thing to country folk. The only thing odd about all this was that it looked like she was in something a bit more advanced than a small town.
Arriving to a large gray and white complex that scared Maria more than impressed her, Mustang turned around and smiled, "This is Central Command. This is where the Military is stationed."
"Military…" Maria echoed while Mustang allowed Armstrong to open the gate and allow the five of them to enter through the large courtyard. Everything about the place looked so clean cut, so ninety degrees, so uniform. While walking in front of the three men while Mustang stayed in front, Maria looked around herself to see other people in the same uniform glancing at her from the corner of their eyes. And finally, when she was let inside to the even more impressive building, of which it was cooled and not homey in the least, more and more people seemed to glance up from their work and observe the newcomer. Mustang and the others acted as though unfazed.
They had to climb a lot of stairs and Maria was only grateful that she didn't have to carry her own bags. And finally, they arrived in a large boring office with a desk near the window and a chair sitting in front of it. A blond women with her hair tied up glanced from her own work and didn't hide her surprise at seeing Maria.
"Take a seat." Mustang ordered, and Maria sat in a chair just in front of his desk. She watched as Armstrong and the others started to search her bags. Mustang glanced over while pulling his phone closer to him, "Don't mind them. They're just making sure you don't have anything dangerous."
"What is this?" Said the dull blonde, taking out his cigarette and holding up Maria's laptop.
"It's my computer. Please be careful." Maria said.
Mustang cut them off, "Shut up." And he started to dial on the phone while the other three continued to shift through Maria's bags. Maria directed her attention to the General, who had a very stern and hard face pressed against his skin. He glanced up at Maria once more before taking a quick breath. Maria heard someone on the other line ask hello.
"Fullmetal. This is Mustang." Said the man. He paused while the person on the other end started to say something, and he went on, "Heiderich, was it?" There was another pause and he listened intently, to which Mustang finally said, "I think you better come to Central Command, Edward."
Alright alright alright. A couple of key points that I need to mention before I go on to a chapter two. First of all, I'm following the anime and manga both, but I seem to be picking out bits and pieces that fit together instead of just sticking with one. Also, this story will imply three things. One, that Alfons somehow reproduced before he died in 1923, Edward has his alchemy, and Winry and Edward did not get together. (And a few other things will pop up, I'm sure.) I'm pretty nervous because I'm a Harry Potter fan fiction writer, and the only anime story that I've ever written otherwise I didn't get a lot of good reviews on it. I've found that anime readers are a bit more critical that HP ones. But hey, if I ever want to be a writer, I need to appease the critics too, right? I need to learn and grow in my writing. And the fact that anime reviewers are more critical is fine; I know there are a lot more anime stories. Anyway, be honest but be kind as well. Thanks for reading!