For Antigone Rex. She wanted something else entirely, and I'm giving her this: my only first anime fic.

No beta, so let me know about any errors if you can. Writing this on the fly *i.e. avoiding HDWL like the plague*

Antigone... eh... sorry.

Part 1 of a few.

"I swear to God- one shot, and his arm plain popped out of the socket. It was still moving, guys – it was! Floppin' around like a fucking catfish."

"They don't rot like our guys, fella. They don't. They sort of... disintegrate. Those fuckers are made of sand."

"These desert honeys have the weirdest fucking tits I've ever seen."

That was the banter on the way back from the field. These were boys talking in the adrenalin come-down of a thick engagement. So thick that enemy soldiers had gotten close enough to take bites. Mustang had found two bodies locked onto each other, frozen in their final warring moments. From even three feet away, it looked like they were lovers. That's how close it got at times.

The small platoon were bundled into four rickety old jeeps that bumped and sputtered their way way back across the barely traversable terrain. It was a shock to everyone in the detachment, this mode of transport. Usually the alchemists rode in style. Mustang must have done something to piss someone off.

"No style today, hey major?" said Corporal Connolly, the boy who claimed to have killed twenty Ishvallans on his first operation. Maybe he did, but tens of numbers didn't mean much to anybody these days.

Mustang glanced up from his report. He didn't mind the interruption so much. After all, he'd just spent the last five minutes or so drawing the same circle over and over again. A nice big one in red. In the middle there was a figure: 157. Their kills for the day.

He was fairly certain he'd planned a witty reply, but all that bubbled up was a very weak smile. The Corporal understood and didn't say another word. Everyday, it seemed Mustang's reception amongst the other officers was becoming more and more complex, contradictory even. He was loved, in a manner, but God- he was hated something special too. Someone obviously wanted to put him in his place; not that the young major was in any particular rush to be the Golden Boy.

The jeeps continued for a further rough and bumpy twenty minutes, the same coarse banter filling the otherwise silent desert. At last, they reached a small bluff at the edge of the Safe Zone. The forward most vehicle stopped. Bringing up the rear, it took a while for Mustang's vehicle to catch up to the others.

"What-?" the alchemist began, but was cut short by the first whistle of mortar fire. It fell wide of them by a good ten feet; one of the benefits of fighting an enemy unaccustomed to the heavier stuff. "Go! Move!" he shouted to his driver, while waving his hand madly at his communications man to issue the order to the other jeeps. The first jeep's tires spun in their place before it shot off and disappeared over the crest of the hill. The men around him were stumbling into position, rifles cocked over the battered and scored metal of the jeep's doors. A bullet struck the spare tire on the back of the vehicle with a 'pop!' More whizzed over head, red-hot seekers streaking the blue sky like lost comets.

The hinterlands surrounding the SZ always carried a little drama. There were mines and there were commando units; there were totally un-policed guerillas and there was a network of tunnels that stretched for miles upon miles beneath them. Yes, Amestris outgunned Ishval, but it was hard to beat an enemy in their own back yard.

A rain of bullets pinged off the side of the backward jeeps and had every man ducking his head for cover. The vehicle in front of them lost control and swung off the track and onto full desert. A couple of rear gunners tumbled out and landed heavily on the sand. Bullets now fell on them from both sides of the road and the smaller of the two thrown men got caught between the eyes. A good shot. He didn't like it, but Mustang thought of her in that moment. He imagined some dark equivalent with red eyes, lying in wait – perhaps for him. Fuck Riza Hawkeye, was his second thought. His lover-ghost, his fierce-dependent.

The dead soldier's comrade rushed to him, hoisted him on his shoulders in one heave and was cut down a second later- by the knees then by the chest. Cartilage flew and the unit's times-squared dead lay still. Mustang cursed and scanned the desert for the gunners. Under the glare of the sun, Ishvallan tunnel hatches and rough linen uniforms were nearly impossible to spot. If he could get a lock on a hatch he could cook them inside their rabbit warrens- it wasn't hard for him. Lord, he could make a soup out of an entire battalion in a small space like that.

His jeep hit a huge rock and bounced impressively in place. It sent him tumbling backwards into his driver, and that's when he saw it: the long, black cylinder of an RPG launcher. He scrambled to his feet, knocking his head off the vehicle's decoratively tiny and near-useless fire extinguisher, and tried to recapture the location. It didn't take long. A thing like that, so unlike the desert yellows and blues, stood out like a flag. He raised his hand and snapped.

"Major!" Kelsey screamed a too-late warning.

The uncanny ribbon of fire spiralled up and came undone as twin bullets struck the alchemist on the thigh. Another caught him higher up, on the inside. That one put him on the floor of the jeep. No no no no no no no no, his mind raced and his left hand hurried to check for damage. What felt like a tidal wave of blood spilled down his leg and into his too loose boot. But he was an officer. He was the commander of this merry little, beat-up gang of grunts and, well, his cock had to wait. He staggered to his feet, gripping the edge of the jeep with his bloodied left hand and snapped again. He was spot on. The grenade exploded in the barrel and a black cloud rolled up from the mid-horizon. As the jeeps sped on towards the Safe Zone, his men continued returning fire, taking only one more loss. Not much for the day: ten in total, including their mission.

Mustang hissed and finally bent at the waist to check the damage: two punctures a few inches above the knee and the other just South of his penis. He rolled his eyes back and thanked somebody. Hearing laughter, he forced them open again.

Tomkinson was smiling at him- his mouth was, that is. In contrast, his eyes looked terrified... looked a million years old (looked like every other soldier in that hell).

"Fuck, sir," he laughed. "I thought they'd straight-up shot your baby maker away!"

Speeding past the towers at the edge of the SZ, Mustang sat back to let the medic get to work on his leg. It wasn't bad, not by an alchemist's standards. No major arteries had been hit and if there were any complications, every single grunt in the whole Mission knew there were different ways and means for alchemists than for them. Dark ways... secret ways, and always that weird-ass Dr. Marcoh.

Mustang smiled. "Me too," he said, and glanced down at his exposed leg and the deeply bubbling wound. He laughed then too. First a little puff of air with barely any noise behind it. Then he really got going. He laughed until tears started coming, from him and his men. No-one would have bet a penny on what was going to happen next.

The road was hardly better inside the SZ and the jeeps continued to jolt and bounce. Connolly, leaning forward on his rifle and laughing – insanely, tragically laughing – was sure his safety was on. He was as scrupulous as they came, and his safety was always fucking on. But that old adrenalin got the better of everyone sooner or later, and sometimes after a fight you were too busy pulling your briefs back out of your ass to remember the basics. The jeep hit a rock, Connolly's rifle fired and the lone bullet struck the fire extinguisher.

This is what irony looks like:

Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist, screaming as he tries to scoop foaming, white phosphate from his eyes.

Inspired by an old old episode of a Vietnam War TV show.

Review if you can. I'm lonely up in hurr.