Journey to the Past

BY : Cha's Aegis
Category: Fullmetal Alchemist > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 566
Disclaimer: Don't own anything in the FMA universe. Some chick in Japan does. Make no money on my stories either.

“I wonder why General Hughes is having us pick up a refugee from Azambra?” Denny asks, leaning to peek over Maria’s shoulder, sitting next to her in the back seat of the touring car acquisitioned for them by Maes. “I can’t imagine a refugee from a backwater country like that being important enough to warrant a car and driver for us.”

“It’s not our place to ask,” she murmurs, reviewing the thin dossier Maes provided them for the umpteenth time. “He’s a brigadier general, so he can pretty much order us to do whatever he wants.”

“And boy does he abuse that every chance he gets,” Denny rolls his eyes.

“Perks of the position, you know that, lieutenant,” she replies, glancing up from the file. “And I suggest you keep your mouth shut about it or you’ll get stuck doing guided school tours again.”

“Don’t remind me,” he shudders in revulsion. “I really hate it if the group includes hormonal girls, especially if we cross paths with Gen. Mustang.”

“No kidding,” Maria sighs, rolling her eyes. “I don’t get it either, though. I don’t think Gen. Hughes had any family in Azambra, so I have no idea why he’d go through all this trouble for a refugee.” She snaps the folder shut in frustration and tucks it back into her briefcase. “The dossier tells us nothing more than a physical description of her.”

“She’s got to be a distant relative,” Denny muses. “It’s the only explanation that makes sense.”

“We’ll find out sooner or later,” Maria replies as the car arrives at Central Grand Station.

The two exit the car once the driver parks it and head past the ticket booths to the tracks furthest from the main entrance. Maria leads the way to last platform, weaving in and out of milling crowds of arriving and departing passengers and well-wishers.

As they walk along the outer wall on the far side of the building toward the far corner, both officers glance out one of the large, sliding cargo doors dotting the station that is left open. They see several military trucks parked outside, waiting to transport the refugees to the tenements.

Both salute the guards stationed at the imaginary entrance of the staging area and head straight for a line of tables along the outer wall to their rights. Soldiers sitting at the tables or flitting from one to another are busy preparing for inbound train scheduled to arrive in another hour and a half.

They ask a soldier to point out who the officer in charge is. They are directed to find him at the table in the center of the row. As they approach, both blink in surprise to see a familiar face bent over a document in quiet explanation with a seated soldier.

“Isn’t that Colonel Miles from Briggs?” Denny whispers behind his hand to Maria.

“Shush!” she hisses as Miles looks up and straightens up to regard them.

“Morning, sir,” Maria greets with a salute.

Denny follows suit as Miles returns their salute. Unable to restrain himself, Denny blurts out, “Aren’t you supposed to still be in Ishval, sir?”

Despite the snow glasses, both can clearly see a brow arching in response as he quietly regards them.

Maria gently, but firmly, grasps her partner by the shoulder and yanks him back while clearing her throat.

“My apologies, sir,” she begins, glaring at her partner. Returning her gaze to Miles, she clarifies, “According to reports the reestablishment of Ishval is been going well under your advisement and we heard it’s a long-term assignment because of all work still to be done. We’re surprised you’re all the way here in Central overseeing the processing of incoming Azambran refugees.”

Letting the silence stretch out, Miles contemplates screwing with the two, especially with the 2nd Lieutenant looking so nervous. However, he doubts there’s enough time with the train due to arrive soon. Plus, it wouldn’t look good to embarrass them in front of their Central comrades.

“The Fuhrer considers me an expert in processing refugees thanks to my experiences in Ishval,” he finally breaks the silence. “Most Ishvalans in hiding weren’t legally documented and it was a mess to straighten that out. In light of the current influx of refugees from Azambra, the Fuhrer asked me to train Central soldiers from the police division in properly processing the immigrants to aid the Immigration and Naturalization department.”

“Shouldn’t I & N be handling their training then?” Denny asks in confusion. “It’s their paperwork.”

“True,” Miles surprises them with a smirk, “but I & N doesn’t have an eye for spotting possible war criminals hiding among the refugees.”

Realization lights up Maria’s face.

“Because it wouldn’t be hard for one to hide in the crowd.”

“But there weren’t war criminals among the Ishvalans?” Denny asks.

A silver brow arches again in curiosity.

“No, not war criminals. However, there were some wanted for crimes not only committed against Amestris prior to the purge, but for crimes against their fellow Ishvalans. They weren’t simply crimes committed during the rebellion and some acts of terrorism injured innocent civilians.”

“It’s a great idea,” Maria nods in understanding before fishing a document from her briefcase and handing it to Miles. “Brigadier General Hughes asked us to pick up an Azambran refugee by the name of Kisa Namikaze once she files her arrival papers.”

Miles examines the orders and nods. He hands the document to a sergeant standing nearby.

“Pass this around so it can be noted by everyone. Once Kisa Namikaze’s documents are processed and stamped, she can go with Captain Ross and 2nd Lt. Brosh.”

“Yes, sir!” the woman smartly replies with a salute before taking the document to all the personnel manning the tables.

Miles turns back to Maria and Denny.

“It’s going to take awhile. We have 225 refugees to process, but while you both are waiting I’d like you to be extra pairs of eyes. Watch for any suspicious behavior or problems among the crowd.”

“Yes, sir!” the two simultaneously salute before stepping off to the side.

The train finally arrives on time forty-five minutes later. The refugees had been relegated to separate cars and aren’t allowed to disembark until all other passengers and cargo has been unloaded. It takes nearly an hour before the soldiers begin ushering the wary, disoriented refugees off the cars into the designated area. The chaos of processing begins as they are directed to form lines and the elderly and families with small children are called to the front to be processed first.

Standing in the background behind a table, Miles watches an elderly woman slowly emerge from the forming lines toward him, her walking stick tapping out a steady rhythm with each step. What appears to be a teenage girl escorts her, steadying the woman by the elbow. With the girl’s head bent down, her headscarf obscures her face from Miles’ view.

When they’re nearly at the table, a teenage boy with his long, brown hair tied back in a ponytail rushes up through the crowd behind them.

Miles tenses and watches the boy closely until he catches up to the two women and opens his mouth in admonishment.

“Grandmother! Why didn’t you wait for me?”

The hunched woman pauses to pin the teen with a glare before nailing him hard in the shins with her walking stick.

“Owwwwww!” he cries, bending forward to press his hands to the now throbbing spots.

“I tried waking you when the train stopped, Shun!” she snarls. “But you were too busy doing your best impersonation of a seat cushion that you didn’t even hear everyone grabbing their things and getting off!”

As everyone in the vicinity laughs at the pair, Miles’ gaze drifts over to the girl standing passively in the background. Blinking repeatedly behind his glasses, he can’t help but stare like a rookie recruit since she looks identical to Edward Elric.

The girl tries not to acknowledge his staring, but fails as she glances at him briefly while shifting uncomfortably under his gaze.

The soldier sitting in front of Miles behind the table interrupts the old woman’s ranting, asking, “May I have your names?”

“My name is Aina Hayashi, and this champion seat warmer,” she pauses to tap her grandson sharply on the shoulder with her stick, “is my grandson, Shun Hayashi.”

Shun ignores the surrounding chuckles to glare at his grandmother while the soldier spends a few moments flicking through his sheets before marking off two lines with a nod.

Glancing up at the girl, he asks, “Are you her granddaughter?”

“As much as I wish she were, she isn’t, but helps me when my beloved grandson is too busy sleeping,” she declares imperiously, prompting everyone in the vicinity to laugh again.

“What is your name, miss?” the soldier asks the girl.

“Kisa Namikaze,” she answers quietly.

Miles notes her voice is distinctly different from Ed’s. It’s deeper than most girls her age with a distinctive, almost sultry huskiness to it.

The soldier flips through his list again and sees the notation regarding her.

“Miss, would you please step off to the side to those two soldiers over there,” he requests, gesturing at Maria and Denny standing off behind him to his left.

There is a sudden spike of tension as all the refugees in the immediate area quieted, causing a ripple effect through the crowd until everyone is either watching apprehensively or straining to see what’s going on. Miles saw the girl’s posture stiffen as she eyes Denny and Maria warily.

“Why are you arresting a young girl who’s barely been in the country five minutes?” Aina demands.

Miles notes the refugees now fearfully eyeing the elderly woman and the soldiers.

The soldier at the table blinks in shock before sputtering, “N-no one is getting arrested, ma’am!”

“Grandmother, please!” Shun hisses, trying to silence her.

“I’m not staying quiet anymore,” she declares defiantly. “Not after surviving everything so far just to come all the way to Amestris only to watch people disappear again. I refuse to bear witness anymore!”

“Why do you think that?” Miles asks, stepping forward to intercede. Gesturing at Maria and Denny he adds, “These two officers have orders from Kisa Namikaze’s sponsor to pick her up from the station since he couldn’t do it himself.”

He watches the realization dawning on Kisa’s face and muses she must’ve been expecting General Hughes, not his subordinates.

Aina shrewdly eyes him, stating, “Aerugo soldiers were in charge of the refugee camps and were notorious for taking people into custody, especially young girls.”

A man among the refugees loudly states, “Many girls ended up pregnant!”

Another further back in the crowd calls out, “They’d drag you off and beat you near to death if you so much as looked at them wrong.”

A woman bitterly adds, “My elderly father died from his beating and all because he didn’t know to stop and honor their national anthem as it played over the loudspeakers.”

As the murmurs and mutterings ripple through the crowd, Miles raises his hands placatingly, “That won’t happen here.”

The old woman eyes him again before asking, “Are you Ishvalan?”

Miles straightens slightly in shock before removing his trademark glasses to reveal his red eyes.

To his surprise the assembly immediately relaxes as Aina says, “Good. I can trust your assurances that Amestrian soldiers aren’t like the Aerugo lowlifes if they now have Ishvalans in their ranks again.”

Still surprised at the change in the crowd’s demeanor, he asks, “Why would my being of Ishvalan descent make a difference to you?”

This time, another man from the crowd answers, “Because you can always trust an Ishvalan’s word.”

Another woman declares, “You can always count on them to be hard workers and help when you need them.”

“Just don’t piss them off. They’re evil incarnate if you cross them,” another man quips, prompting the crowd to laugh.

Hanging off her walking stick, Aina nods. “Ishvalans are good people and I wish my grandson would marry a nice Ishvalan girl because she’ll make sure he isn’t such a lazy, good for nothing.”

“Grandmother!” Shun protests as the crowd sniggers.

“It sounds like Ishvalans lived among you,” Miles prods.

“After the infamous purge in Amestris many sought refuge in Azambra,” Kisa finally speaks up.

Turning his attention to her, Miles asks, “So we’ll be seeing Ishvalans among the incoming refugees?”

Kisa sadly shakes her head, “The ones who didn’t heed the rumors of the impending coup were the first to be killed by the insurgents.”

Miles sees many refugees bowing their head slightly in shame.

“I’m ashamed the insurgents were Azambrans,” Aina declares. “It was bad enough what they did to our people, but it’s worse what they subjected the Ishvalans and other ethnic groups to.”

Her statement prompts another round of murmured assent through the crowd.

“Enough about what we can’t change,” Aina dismisses with a wave of an arthritic hand. “It’s good to see an Ishvalan in charge. Eases my mind that Amestrian soldiers won’t be bastards like Aerugo’s. Now if we can get on with it because I can’t feel my butt.”

Shun slaps a hand to his face with a groan. Miles catches the look of amusement in Kisa’s eyes while the soldier continues processing them.

“I’m sorry for making you feel uncomfortable,” Miles apologizes to Kisa. “I know my staring bothered you, but you look a lot like someone I know.”

Cocking her head slightly, she looks confused until an old memory clicks in her head.

“Uncle said I looked identical to an Amestrian boy named Edward Elric. So you know him?”

Before Miles can answer Aina interjects, “There’s a boy here in Amestris who looks just like you?” At Kisa’s nod she chuckles, “Poor boy, must be hard fending off all the men chasing him.”

Everyone at the table turns to gape at her.

“Um,” Kisa begins hesitantly. “It’s probably not like that, Aunt Aina.”

“How can it not be?” the old lady scoffs. “If he looks just like you, he must be a very pretty boy.” Her eyes drift down to Kisa’s legs peeking through the slit in her skirt. “I doubt he’s got your legs, though.”

Shun groans, “Quit embarrassing Kisa, grandmother. We’re holding up the line and the longer it takes them to process everyone, the longer it’ll be before we can settle in the tenements.”

Miles inwardly grins, watching Kisa try to maintain her composure behind her hand as Maria struggles to hold her own while elbowing a sniggering Denny. He certainly will have to rib the older Elric once he saw him again and will definitely be telling Brig. Gen. Armstrong when he calls later during lunch to update her.

The old woman lightly smacks her grandson with her walking stick before turning again to Kisa.

“You take care of yourself, Kisa, and my offer stay with us still stands in case your sponsor did not make other arrangements.”

“Thank you, Aunt Aina,” Kisa acknowledges before raising her clasped hands to her chin and bowing to Aina and her grandson.

Aina and Shun return the gesture, also raising their hands to their chins before straightening up and slowly making their way to the nearest cargo doors leading outside to the transports. As they leave, Kisa focuses on the soldier processing her paperwork. Within minutes her papers are stamped and handed back to her.

“I’m Colonel Miles,” he introduces himself as he steps forward.

He pauses to watch her nod politely before clasping her hands again in the prayer position at her chest and bows. When she straightens up, he extends his hand and arm in a gesture toward Denny and Maria.

“If you would please step this way.”

Kisa comes around the table to stand in front of the partners.

“This is Captain Maria Ross and 2nd Lieutenant Denny Brosh,” he introduces them.

“I’m Kisa Namikaze,” she states, repeating the same bow she gave Miles.

“Nice to meet you,” Maria greets back as Denny nods.

“I apologize again for making you uncomfortable,” Miles states. “It was hard not to stare since your resemblance to Ed is remarkable.”

“Please don’t apologize. It’s understandable you’d be shocked,” Kisa reasons. “Uncle told me how we were identical, but I forgot all about it.”

“If I hadn’t seen it, I would’ve thought Ed took up cross-dressing,” Denny pipes up, earning a sharp elbow from Maria.

Miles glares at the 2nd Lt. in reprimand.

Softening his expression again, he asks Kisa, “Why was everyone so certain you were being arrested? I noticed even you tensed up.”

Blushing slightly, Kisa sighs and closes her eyes briefly, explaining, “Since the People’s Army took over Azambra it was an everyday occurrence for people to disappear. Often it took the guise of them being sent to reeducation or summoned to speak with the leaders, but it all ended the same, with those people never coming back. Didn’t change much at the refugee camps. Aerugo soldiers are not known for their compassion and took what they wanted. Looking at them wrong or questioning their orders earned a beating if you were male.”

Stunned Maria asks, “Is it true many girls ended up pregnant?”

“It wasn’t true in every case,” Kisa nods. “Some girls used their perversion to their advantage, trading sexual favors for extra food and gifts. However, the soldiers didn’t always wait for the girls to come to them. If a girl were unfortunate to catch a soldier’s eye, they’d stalk her until he could grab her and drag her off.”

Miles eyes Kisa.

“It sounds like you’re speaking from personal experience.”

“There were a couple of close calls,” she reluctantly admits, looking uncomfortable. “But with the number of refugees in the camps it was easy to disappear into the crowd. I just had to try to stay far away from the soldiers.”

Noting their confused expressions, she realizes she needs to elaborate further.

“There was one that nearly succeeded,” Kisa continues. “He constantly stalked me, always trying to catch me off guard and grab me. When I boarded the transport wagon bearing refugees into Amestris, he stormed through the back and started pulling me out. The driver and guard upfront didn’t know what was going on and started moving the wagon. If it weren’t for Aunt Aina hitting him with her walking stick and the others holding onto me, he would’ve dragged me off. He was enraged and raised his gun to shoot at us when another soldier ran up and stopped him.”

Kisa looks at the three officers listening in rapt attention.

“As you can see, it’s not easy for Azambrans to lose that wariness after years of living in fear of disappearing, especially when soldiers single a person out. It just makes everyone think it’s happening all over again.”

Miles quietly states, “It wasn’t my intention to make you or anyone else think that.” Gesturing at Maria and Denny, he adds, “Ross and Brosh have orders to escort you back to Central command, but not for an interrogation or to arrest you. They are merely your hosts until Gen. Hughes is free to meet up with you.”

“I understand now and everyone will understand that better the longer we’re here and we don’t see any of that happening,” Kisa nods with a slight smile. “Thank you for bearing with our fears and paranoia, Colonel Miles.”

“You’re welcome,” he nods.

“Shall we get going?” Maria suggests, eliciting another nod from Kisa.

Bowing again to Miles, Kisa straightens up before following Maria and Denny through the station.

Minutes later Kisa is sitting in the back seat of a motor vehicle with the two officers sitting in the rear-facing seat opposite her. She’s both giddy and nervous because it’s her first ride in a horseless carriage. She tries keeping her face inscrutable, but couldn’t help but be awed at the city flying by outside the window. The size of the buildings and amount of people and cars on the streets amaze her and she can’t decide on what to pay closer attention to, the ride or the scenery.

Maria watches the teen in amusement correctly deducing the girl has never been in a motorcar before or in such a large city as Central. She also marvels at her resemblance to Ed.

Denny is of the same mind, but can’t resist staring. Finally his curiosity gets the better of him and he breaks the silence.

“Are you related to Ed somehow? Like a distant cousin or something?”

Startled, Kisa turns from looking out the window to her left to blink at him before shrugging.

“Not that I know of. Depends if he has any ancestors from Azambra. Might be a very distant relation if that’s the case.”

“It’s amazing,” Denny shakes his head. “You could pass for Ed’s twin.”

Kisa gives a soft, sad smile saying, “That’s what uncle said.”

Puzzled, Maria angles her head, pointing out, “You keep referring to an ‘uncle,’ if you have a relative in Amestris, why did Gen. Hughes sponsor you?”

Kisa blinks in confusion before understanding dawns on her.

“In Azambra it’s customary to call older men who aren’t related ‘uncle’ and women ‘aunt,’” she explains. “It’s a sign of respect. I call Gen. Hughes ‘uncle’ for that reason.”

Maria nods in understanding while Denny processes her words. Thinking the conversation is done Kisa resumes gazing out the window, but is distracted when the two huddle in close together. It isn’t hard to hear their hushed whisperings.

“How does this girl know Brigadier General Hughes?” Maria asks Denny behind her hand.

“And how does she know him well enough to call him ‘uncle’?” he asks instead of answering.

“I thought the general might’ve been asked to sponsor Kisa by an acquaintance,” she reasons back.

Denny breaks off from commenting when he notices Kisa watching them with a curious expression.

“Heh, are you enjoying the ride so far?” he asks with a nervous laugh while rubbing the back of his head.

“Um, we were just…” Maria trails off, trying to come up with a plausible explanation.

Cocking her head slightly, Kisa asks, “If you’re curious, why don’t you just ask?”

“Well, um, it’s like this…” Denny fumbles along.

“I’m sorry,” Maria apologizes, quietly. “We really shouldn’t be wondering about your relationship with Gen. Hughes since it’s his and your private business.”

Kisa’s gaze drifts back out the window in thought before she looks back at the two embarrassed officers.

“As far as I know, nothing about my acquaintance with uncle Maes is top secret, so I don’t mind sharing.” Not giving either one a chance to reply, she continues, “I met Gen. Hughes two years ago when he was injured within Azambra. My family found him and gave him aid and I took to calling him ‘uncle’ then. He left when he was well enough, promising to let the world know what was happening in Azambra and told us to list him as a sponsor if we survived.”

Kisa trails off, letting them process her words and not feeling guilty keeping many details quiet. She doesn’t want to risk them asking uncomfortable questions. Inevitably Maes will be asking some painful questions, but she feels he has the right to ask. She won’t feel so embarrassed if she cries in front of him.

“Wow,” Denny finally mutters. “Thank you for helping the general like that.”

At her confused expression Maria smiles, explaining, “A lot of people think very highly of Gen. Hughes, so we’re grateful you helped him return home.”

When Kisa remains silent, Denny spares her from further embarrassment, saying, “If you don’t mind us showing off a little, how about we tell you more about what you’re seeing outside the windows as we make our way to Central Command?”

“I’d like that,” Kisa agrees shyly.

Denny and Maria take turns pointing out specific landmarks, putting Kisa further at ease with them and she begins asking questions until they reach Central Command.

“Private, circle around Central Command,” Maria orders the driver over her shoulder.

“It’s amazing!” Kisa breathes in awe, gazing up at the massive structure. “It looks like a city within a city!”

“Central Command operates independently, so that’s an accurate assessment,” Denny chuckles.

“It’s in much better shape than it was two years ago,” Maria explains. “Much of Central Command had to be rebuilt after an attempted coup. There was considerable damage that is still being repaired, but most of the exterior is complete.”

The car pulls up at a side entrance and Denny helps Kisa off the car.

“Gen. Hughes has an all day meeting today, but will have a lunch break and meet up with us. In the meantime, would you like a tour?” Maria asks.

Kisa considers it before agreeing, “I’m a little tired, but I’m also stiff and sore from sitting on a train for the past few days. And a tour would not only be interesting, but a good way to stretch my legs.”

“A first rate tour coming right up!” Denny declares eagerly, prompting Maria to roll her eyes before ushering Kisa inside the building.

As she walks between the two officers down the corridors, Kisa focuses on their narrative, not only because she finds it interesting, but also because she’s drawing a lot of unwanted stares from passer bys. It makes her a little nervous being around so many military personnel, but understands she’s likely to see plenty more since Maes is a general. She reasons she must stand out being dressed in the typical fashion of an Azambran woman. Since arriving in Amestris she’s aware that her colorful patterned sarong skirt is atypical of Amestrian women. Despite having removed her headscarf to wear it as a shawl, as is her habit once inside a building, she realizes she must still stick out regardless.

Her awareness of the stares of others is muted by her awe of the sheer size of the building and the different departments housed within. She’s also intrigued by the fairly friendly ambiance of the staff, especially in comparison to oppressive fear practiced by both the People’s Army and many Aerugo soldiers.

As the trio moves through the building, Kisa quietly asks her guides, “Should I be saluting like you do when you salute certain men and women?”

Maria smiles at the teen walking between Denny and her.

“As enlisted personnel, it’s protocol for us to stop and salute higher ranking officers. However, you’re a civilian and aren’t expected to follow the same protocol. Even if we were to stop and speak to a higher-ranking officer, you wouldn’t have to greet them any differently than you would anyone in your homeland.”

Nodding, Kisa continues walking with them. She smiles and inclines her head in greeting when Maria and Denny salute another officer walking with two aides. She’s not sure of his rank, but she’s pretty sure it’s high. She refocuses on her guides since the man continues walking on after barely acknowledging them.

She idly wonders how soon it’ll be until lunchtime so she can see Maes again.

The officer pauses several paces after passing the two lower officers and civilian in the corridor, watching the three continue away from him.

“Gen. Hakuro, are you all right?” one of his aides asks.

Ignoring the question, Hakuro turns around and resumes walking the corridor, trying to brush off the niggling sensation he’s seen that girl before. It’s a few minutes before he remembers: The Fullmetal Alchemist.

He recalls the young man retired from the military nearly two years ago and is rumored to be currently traveling abroad. Old anger stirs to life as he remembers a smug Mustang informing him of Elric’s retirement when he tried pressuring the upstart into convincing Fullmetal to reenlist.

Hakuro’s scowl deepens as he wonders why Fullmetal is wandering the hallways at Central Command and dressed so strangely. Even his demeanor is atypical.

With each passing moment his suspicion increases. Considering his options, he doesn’t want to risk Mustang catching wind and attempting to subvert the situation to his advantage and another promotion. Hakuro realizes it’s up to him to handle the situation. It’s just going to have to wait until the generals meeting with the Fuhrer concludes later.

“Perkins,” he snaps.

“Yes, sir?” the young, lanky blond timidly asks, matching his pace to Hakuro instead of continuing to trail behind.

“Head over to security and notify them pick up a suspicious person for espionage. They are currently masquerading as the Fullmetal Alchemist and have fooled two lower ranking officers to infiltrate Central Command. They are to detain the suspect until I can question them later.”

“Sir, where do I tell security to find this suspicious person?” Perkins asks in confusion.

Hakuro gives him a withering glare, causing the young man to shrink back.

“You just saw them! You can’t be that much of an idiot not to see the imposter dressed in strange clothing posing as the Fullmetal Alchemist!”

“Um,” Perkins begins nervously. “Do you mean that civilian girl escorted by the captain and 2nd Lt. we just passed?”

“Of course!” Hakuro snaps. “Don’t you know what the Fullmetal Alchemist looks like?”

“N-no, sir.”

Hakuro glowers before muttering, “Idiot. Hurry to security and provide them a description of that suspect before they get too close to any restricted areas.”

“Yes, sir!” Perkins salutes before rushing off to carry out his orders.

When Roy becomes Fuhrer, Maes is going to make him place a permanent moratorium on all budget meetings.

Having wasted what feels like the best years of his life sitting with all the generals and Fuhrer Grumman in a budget meeting, he can only describe his current state of mind as bored.

Although, ‘bored’ doesn’t really cover it, but it’s the best adjective his numbed mind can think of to describe his current condition.

Being a brigadier general has its perks besides the increased pay and benefits. However, meetings like this one remind Maes of the downside. It wouldn’t be so bad if more of the agenda were relevant to his department or something he gives a shit about. However, purchase approvals for radio equipment hold little interest for him.

Glancing over at Roy, he notes his friend is doing a good job masking his boredom. However, years of friendship tune him into the fact Roy is just as bored as he is.

Not that there haven’t been entertaining moments. Throughout the meeting he watched the subtle glaring match and disguised barbs Roy and Lt. Gen. Olivier Armstrong kept throwing at each other. That only lasted until both tired of the game.

Despite frequent, short breaks, Maes is eager for their lunch break to be called so he can reunite with Kisa. Unfortunately, his eagerness seems to make the time agonizingly slow.

It doesn’t help that Hakuro, who unfortunately is sitting across from him, keeps slowing things down with his inane questions and insistent declarations of the obvious. Maes already calculated the angle, force and trajectory needed to lob his pen through the hole in the blowhard’s earlobe. Not that he’ll actually throw it. He really likes his pen.

A knock on the door breaks Maes’ numb reverie, much to his relief.

“Come in,” Fuhrer Grumman calls out.

“Pardon the intrusion,” one the Fuhrer’s secretaries apologizes while stepping into the board room. “One of Gen. Hughes’ subordinates has an urgent message and he says it can’t wait until the next break.”

Maes frowns at the statement as Grumman glances up at the clock on the wall before sighing.

“It’s close to lunch anyway and I have a few things to do. Let’s make it a two-hour break so everyone can catch up on official business and have enough time to eat. Dismissed.”

All the generals begin collecting their documents. Grumman rises from his seat and leaves the room as various aids swarm in to speak to their respective generals.

Taking his time, Roy unobtrusively gathers up his notes, watching Maes as Denny finishes his hurried whisperings in his ear. Maes’ expression uncharacteristically darkens as he promptly rises to his feet and stalks out the door.

Joining him, Riza comments, “I wonder what that was about?”

“Only one way to find out,” Roy mutters as he follows in Hughes’ wake with a disgruntled Riza trailing behind.

They weren’t the only ones to notice the abrupt change in Maes Hughes. Olivier Armstrong happened to be standing nearby when she felt the abrupt change in the normally genial man. She watches Hughes leave, followed immediately by Mustang and Colonel Hawkeye.

Turning her attention back onto a worried looking 2nd Lieutenant who is stupidly oblivious to his surroundings, she stealthily moves behind him to lay a firm hand on his shoulder, causing him to jerk as if shocked. As he turns to face her, his worried expression morphs into fear and gulps nervously when he realizes who just startled him.

Armstrong inwardly smirks. Good, she can use his terror to her advantage.

She vaguely notes that the other generals have already left, giving her some privacy with the 2nd Lieutenant.

Glaring hard enough to incinerate if she had the ability, Maria wonders how to justify putting a hole in the forehead of the smug ass refusing to listen to her.

She’s wasted too much time attempting to reason with the squat desk jockey while Denny tries notifying General Hughes of their predicament. She derives little satisfaction from knowing that if she’s pissed, the general will be positively livid once he arrives, not when it’s adversely affecting an innocent girl.

Losing her temper, she leans forward to slam both hands on desk in front of the idiot, growling, “If you bothered to listen for a moment, you’d realize you’re making a huge mistake!”

The lieutenant colonel gives her a sardonic look.

“You do not hold a rank to demand any information regarding a suspect in custody. You should be careful or you could be considered an accomplice.”

Before Maria can respond another voice startles them both.

“Then the lieutenant colonel should be careful in not taking too long to offer all information regarding his latest suspect in custody or he’ll be cited for insubordination.”

Both turn to see Maes, Roy and Riza entering the room. Jumping to attention, both promptly greet them with a salute.

“Report!” Maes orders.

“The captain here is attempting to…” the lt. colonel begins before Maes cuts him off.

“I was not speaking to you,” Maes snaps, his fierce glare causing the lt. colonel to snap back into attention.

Maes turns to look expectantly at Maria. She briefly considers throwing the lt. colonel a smug look, but decides to begin her explanation instead, knowing better than to delay when Hughes is in this kind of mood.

“Per your orders 2nd Lt. Brosh and I picked up Kisa Namikaze from the station and returned to Central Command at approximately 1000 hours. We were giving Ms. Namikaze the grand tour when Lt. Col. Arjun and Major Bison arrested her about a half hour ago. Neither would give a reason for her arrest, so we followed them back here to the detention block. When it became clear Lt. Col. Arjun wouldn’t budge I sent Brosh to notify you.”

Hughes turns to Arjun, coldly asking, “On what charges was Kisa Namikaze arrested?”

Before Arjun can answer, another figure enters through a side door on the far side of the room, attracting everyone’s attention of. The rank on the intruder’s uniform shows he’s a major. With his bald head bent down, his meaty hands fiddle with a ring of tangled keys. He is an exceptionally large man, possibly bulkier than Lt. Col. Alex Armstrong.

“The bitch is in shackles and secure in isolation,” the major mumbles before succeeding in untangling the jumble.

Finally looking up, he’s startled to see the crowd gathered in the room.

Crossing the room to him, Riza takes advantage of Major Bison’s confusion to grab the keys from him.

“What is Kisa Namikaze’s cell number?”

Recovering his wits, Bison growls, “She’s a suspected spy and is staying where she is.”

He barely has time to blink when he feels her pistol pressed firmly between his balls.

“What is Kisa Namikaze’s cell number?” Riza repeats calmly.

Breaking out in a cold sweat when he hears the hammer cock, he stammers out, “N-n-number 42. Down the hall, two rights, past the processing area, a left and another right.”

“Captain Ross, come with me,” Riza orders as she removes her pistol and eases the hammer down with an ominous click.

Resisting the urge to smirk at the fate the two fools drew for themselves, Maria promptly crosses the room and disappears through the door after Riza. As they pass the processing area, both women notice an odd hole in the plaster of a nearby wall. Dismissing it, both continue until they arrive at cell 42. Maria steps up to the door and frowns in confusion when she opens the observation slot and peers into pitch-blackness.

“Kisa?” she calls into the darkness and receives no answer.

Riza proceeds to unlock and open the door while Maria steps off to the side to flick the nearby switch on the wall. Stepping inside the small cell, both stand momentarily stunned in the open doorway.

Opposite them on a wall mounted, wooden bench, Kisa lies facing them in an awkward heap on her right side with her legs dangling at an angle over the edge onto the floor, like her body was carelessly dumped there. Her hands are cuffed together and bound to her waist with a long lead chain connected to the bindings on her ankles.

Blood covers half her face, obscuring most of the bruising and swelling around her left eye and temple. Vomit drips from the bench near her mouth to the floor, indicating she recently threw up, possibly while unconscious.

Maria glances over at Riza and notices the colonel’s keen eyes narrowing at the unconscious girl in scrutiny.

“You’re not imagining it,” she comments as she steps over to Kisa, prompting Riza into action. “She’s identical to Ed.”

Handing Maria the keys, Riza kneels down near Kisa’s head.

“There’s more time for me to marvel at the resemblance later, but it’s certainly surprising,” she muses while trying to gently pick Kisa’s bloody, tangled hair from the oozing wound.

“Needless to say, Denny and I were blown away when we first saw her this morning,” Maria states while working on unlocking the shackles.

Riza nods while carefully tilting Kisa’s head for a better look at the wound.

“It’s fortunate she was on her side or she would’ve choked on her own vomit.”

Maria finishes removing the shackles and peers over Riza’s shoulder for a better look before worriedly asking, “How is she?”

“She took a pretty good blow to the head. May need stitches and probably has a concussion.” Meeting Maria’s concerned gaze, Riza orders, “Go back and call for a medic. I’ll stay in case she wakes up.”

Maria nods and salutes before leaving to carry out her orders.

When the two women disappeared through the door Major Bison joined Lt. Col. Arjun at attention before the two generals.

“What reason or proof did Gen. Hakuro offer for suspecting a teenage girl of being a spy, Arjun?” Maes finally growls.

“None,” Arjun smartly replies. “Our orders were to arrest and detain her until given further instruction.”

Arching a brow, Roy asks, “Doesn’t there have to be probable cause for an arrest regardless of orders?”

“There doesn’t have to be much probable cause when it’s suspicion of espionage, sir,” Arjun replies.

Maes snaps, “On what grounds?”

The man hesitates, looking nervous for the first time, prompting Maes to repeat in a low growl, “On what grounds?”

Arjun swallows before answering, “Gen. Hakuro sent an aide ordering us to take into custody a possible spy masquerading as the Fullmetal Alchemist Edward Elric. We’re to detain the suspect until the general can stop by later to conduct an interrogation.”

Having reentered the room during Arjun’s statement, Maria crosses over to the desk where the phone extension is, pointing out, “I advised Lt. Col. Arjun that Gen. Hughes was Ms. Namikaze’s sponsor and should be contacted immediately. I even handed over her immigration papers as proof of her identity, which I had been holding because of her similarity to Edward Elric. He didn’t even look at them before crumpling them up and tossing them into the wastebasket by his desk, refusing to return them to me.”

When Maria reaches the desk, Maes asks, “How’s Kisa?”

Maria pauses in dialing to admit, “She was shackled in chains, which we released her from. However, she was unconscious from an injury to her left temple and may have a concussion. Col. Hawkeye ordered me to get a medic.”

Maes numbly nods for Maria to continue with the call before turning his fierce gaze onto the uncomfortable looking major.

“Care to explain the injury?” he coldly asks.

Bison regains some bravado to smartly snap, “Force is sometimes necessary to subdue a suspect regardless of age or gender when they resist arrest. That can mean hitting a suspect to make them compliant.”

Maria hangs up the phone and snarls, “I spent the better part of the morning with Ms. Namikaze and that girl would not have resisted arrest! The necessary force you used caused a bloody gash that is likely to need stitches. You’re at least three times her size in height and bulk, so you’re really going to try arguing the force you used wasn’t excessive?”

Roy captures their attention stating, “In addition to the question of whether excessive force was used, there are more reasons to question the validity of the arrest. It appears Col. Miles supervised the processing of the refugees at the station earlier today.”

Everyone turns to look at Roy as he reads through Kisa’s crumpled immigration papers he retrieved from the wastebasket.

“The colonel personally signed off on her documents,” he continues. Looking up, he arches a brow at Arjun and Bison. “So does this mean you’ll arrest people without probable cause despite the fact there are legal documents signed by a respected colonel trained to spot spies?”

A female voice from the doorway intones, “That’s what I’d like to know.”

Gen. Olivier Armstrong stands in the doorway with Denny peering over her shoulder looking nervous.

“What brings you down to the detention block?” Roy asks.

“Curiosity,” she admits. “Col. Miles is specially trained and experienced in spotting undesirables hiding among the throngs of incoming refugees. He was temporarily reassigned to train and oversee the military police in charge of processing the Azambran refugees. My curiosity was piqued to see Gen. Hughes uncharacteristically livid and had the 2nd Lt. inform me of the situation. However, hearing Col. Miles personally signed off on those documents indicates the refugee in question is above suspicion.”

Turning her icy gaze back onto Bison and Arjun, she adds, “So if the Lt. Colonel and Major would not accept the existence of a document legally signed by Col. Miles, that implies they do not trust him. Perhaps they should arrest him as well?”

Arjun and Bison look terrified at the idea.

Roy nonchalantly adds, “It also implies you didn’t train your men that well. After all, a subordinate’s actions often reflect poorly on their commanding officer.”

Roy and Maes smirk as the glint in Olivier’s eyes intensifies and the two men cower in fear.

Once alone with the unconscious girl, Riza resumes carefully examining the head wound, wincing at the damage. Deciding to check for any other injuries, she eases her hand under Kisa’s head while positioning her other hand on the girl’s shoulder to shift her onto her back.

As she starts gently pushing on the shoulder, Kisa gasps before groaning in pain. She feebly grabs Riza’s arm, causing the older blonde to stop and watch her face twist in pain. After several long moments, familiar gold eyes open to look dazedly up at Riza as she smiles reassuringly.

“I’m Colonel Riza Hawkeye and am a friend of Gen. Hughes. I’m not trying to hurt you, but I need to check you for further injuries.”

“I’m Kisa Namikaze,” she greets softly in return. She takes a moment to study Riza before asking in a pain filled voice, “Are the soldiers who arrested me around? Because they might not like that you’re in the cell with me. They said I’m supposed to be isolated.”

“They’re currently dealing with two pissed off generals; they’re not going to be trying anything anytime soon,” Riza wryly explains. Becoming serious again, she adds, “I need to shift you onto your back in order to do an adequate assessment of your injuries.”

“All right,” Kisa nods.

She doesn’t resist when Riza starts shifting her onto her back, eliciting a hoarse cry. As she breathes heavily from the pain, Riza examines her, discovering her right shoulder is dislocated. Kisa also gasps when she gently presses her ribs on her right side.

“What happened?” Riza asks a few minutes later.

“Capt. Ross and Lt. Brosh were giving me a tour of Central Command when two soldiers came up behind us and pulled me away from them. One pushed me against a wall and shackled me, but I could hear Capt. Ross and Lt. Brosh arguing with the other one, demanding to know what was going on. When he said I was under arrest, they spent the entire walk back to the detention area trying to convince him they were making a mistake. The big one dragged me away from them, saying I had to be secured in a cell.”

Her deep breath is interrupted by pain, causing her to wince before continuing quietly.

“I recovered my wits, remembering I wasn’t in Azambra or Aerugo anymore. Things are different here and by rights I can ask what the charges against me are and the soldiers arresting me are supposed to tell me. Unless,” her voice drops hesitantly lower, “I misunderstood Amestrian law.”

“You understood it correctly,” Riza nods, shifting to perch on the edge of the bench near Kisa’s hip. “Regardless of the charge, you have the right to know them.”

“Good,” she sighs. “I stopped in the hallway and barely asked when the soldier hit me. At least, I think he hit me,” she pauses hesitantly. “I’m not sure, though. There no one else was around, but I didn’t even see his fist come at me and suddenly everything went black.”

Riza mentally fills in the rest as she recalls the odd hole in the wall she and Maria passed earlier. Thinking back on it, a blow from a man Bison’s size could easily send someone as small as Kisa flying. She must’ve impacted the wall, which explains the dislocated shoulder and possibly fractured ribs.

Reaching out, Riza gently tilts Kisa’s head to examine the right side of her skull, arching a brow at the fact there doesn’t seem to be any injuries there. Somehow Kisa’s head avoided impacting the wall, which was possible since the hole is very close to a corner.

She’s jarred from her musings when she notices Kisa closing her eyes.

“Kisa?” She watches the girl struggle to open her eyes. When glassy gold refocuses on her, she explains, “You may have a concussion and need to stay awake until the medics arrive.”

“But I feel so tired,” Kisa moans softly, her eyes drooping.

“You need to stay awake,” Riza repeats, shaking her head. Smiling, she adds, “It certainly turned into quite the first memorable day in Central didn’t it?”

Kisa slowly processes her question before smiling back.

“Yes, but probably not one uncle wished for me.”

Confused, Riza asks, “Uncle?”

“It’s how Azambrans address older males they respect,” Kisa explains. “For women, it’s ‘aunt’. It’s a long story, but I call Gen. Hughes ‘uncle’ for that reason.”

Riza nods, saying, “I’d like to know the story behind that later, if that’s all right, but I hope you don’t think all Amestrian soldiers are abusive like the major and lieutenant colonel who arrested you.”

“I don’t. It’s unfair to judge an entire group by the actions of the few.”

In an effort to keep the girl awake and talking until the medics arrive, Riza asks, “What do you think of Central so far?”

Understanding it’s for her own good, Kisa makes an effort to stay awake and rambles over what she has seen and shares her thoughts on them. She thinks she must sound like a little kid.

Riza listens to the slurred ramblings, asking inane questions to help her. Fortunately, it isn’t long before the medics arrive, interrupting them.

“I’m going to leave so the medics will have more room to work,” Riza explains to the teen. “I’ll let Gen. Hughes know what’s going on so he doesn’t worry.”

“Thank you,” Kisa replies softly.

Rising to her feet, Riza moves out of the way and exits the cell. Retracing her path back to the office, she stops at the hole in the wall. Taking a few minutes, she carefully examines the damage, noting it’s the right size for Kisa.

Continuing on her way, she reenters the office area in time hear Arjun and Bison feebly attempt to explain their actions to an irritated Gen. Armstrong. Noting the smug look on Roy’s face, she knows she must’ve missed something good and makes a mental note to ask him later as she moves to stand by him.

Her entrance doesn’t go unnoticed and Maes interrupts to ask, “How’s Kisa?”

“She suffered multiple injuries resulting from a strong blow to the head that sent her impacting with a wall,” Riza explains, watching Bison pale out of the corner of her eye. “Physical evidence supports her claim that the major hit her when she tried rightfully asking what the charges against her were. There is a hole in the wall near one of the processing alcoves that is the right height and width for someone her size.”

Turning to Bison, Maes’ eyes narrow. “Are you still going to claim you used reasonable force on a suspect resisting arrest?”

Neither man answers, prompting Olivier to comment, “It sounds like we need to put a call in to Internal Affairs.”

Roy turns to Maria since she’s closest to the phone and nods, prompting her to pick up the line and call it in.

“It’s not a good first impression to a brand new citizen of Amestris who hasn’t even been in Central a full day,” Riza muses.

“No it isn’t,” Maes agrees coldly. “And I’ll make damn sure the boys in IA conduct a thorough investigation of every arrest the Major and Lt. Col. have ever made to determine if there were any other violations of a suspect’s civil rights or if excessive force used.”

“That will put every successfully prosecuted case we’ve handled the arrest on in jeopardy!” Arjun protests.

“Then perhaps you should’ve made sure you were following the letter of the law and protocol every time, shouldn’t you?” Olivier coolly replies.

“You’ll be lucky if you aren’t imprisoned and only busted down in rank,” Roy comments. Another thought occurs to him as he turns to Olivier, asking, “Is there room for them at Fort Briggs?” At her arched brow, he explains, “They’d benefit from the strict regimen of Briggs, as one never hears of Briggs soldiers breaching protocol or acting improperly.”

Olivier imperiously declares, “Such a thing would never happen.”

Roy glances back at an uncomfortable looking Bison and Arjun, stating, “All the more reason for them to go there. Wouldn’t it be better to reform them if they aren’t thrown in prison?”

Olivier considers it.

“It would be a good recommendation once the investigations are complete. Briggs will either reform them into ideal soldiers or bury them on the mountain.”

Maes smirks grimly at the Major and Lt. Col. as they cringe at the declaration just as the officers from IA arrive. Roy briefs them of the situation and charges against the two men before instructing them to contact their superiors to get replacements to man the detention block. While the IA officers shackle Bison and Arjun, Maria and Denny move over to Hughes.

“Sir, we’re sorry this happened,” Maria apologizes. “We never went anywhere near any restricted areas and Kisa didn’t act in any way to stir suspicion.”

“I remember us passing Gen. Hakuro in the hallway and he didn’t even give us a second scowl,” Denny adds.

“There was nothing either of you could’ve done to prevent it, not without it turning into a gunfight,” Maes reassures them with a smile. “You followed procedure and did the best you could to get her out of the situation.”

“Thank you, sir,” Maria nods before hesitantly adding, “The 2nd lieutenant and I have to leave.”

“You better go then or you won’t have enough time for lunch.”

“Would it be okay if the captain and I stop by later to check on Kisa, sir?” Denny asks.

Maes’ smile widens.

“That depends if she ends up hospitalized. Check by the office to see what’s going on. Thank you both for taking care of her and for your efforts. Dismissed.”

The two partners return his salute and follow the IA officers and their prisoners out just as the medics emerge from the detention area bearing a stretcher.

Raising a hand, Maes stops them to check on Kisa. She’s unconscious and thick bandages wind around her head, covering her left eye. The medics had also immobilized her right arm, binding it to her body with more bandages.

Maes’ frown deepens before he looks up to ask, “What is the extent of her injuries?”

“Take her on to the medical wing so the doctor can start examining her,” the lead medic orders the others. As they leave, he turns back to Maes. “She took a strong blow to the head and it looks like it gave her a concussion. The severity will have to be determined by the doctor. Her right shoulder is dislocated and it appears she has at least two fractured ribs. It doesn’t appear she suffered any internal injuries, but the doctor will make certain. We only did a field assessment.”

“Will she be hospitalized?” Maes asks.

“Depends on the doctor,” the medic replies.

“Okay, thanks for informing me.”

Maes returns the medic’s salute and watches him disappear after the others.

“That is more than reasonable force,” Olivier muses.

Maes nods grimly.

“Kisa came here to get away from the chaos of her homeland, but she still experiences unwarranted brutality by our own soldiers. All because of one idiot who couldn’t bother to ask who she was and if she had her papers.”

“Does this girl look like Edward Elric?” Olivier asks.


Cocking her head slightly, Olivier muses, “I can see how that could cause problems. However, Hakuro knows better than to order an arrest without probable cause, especially not solely based on her resemblance to a retired state alchemist.”

“If he had caught a spy, it would’ve been a nice feather in his cap,” Roy muses.

“You would know all about engineering situations to your advantage, Mustang,” she jabs back.

“We both would,” he smirks, causing the blonde to growl.

Pointedly ignoring their barbs, Maes points out, “It’s impossible for anyone to make themselves look identical to someone else. If Hakuro knew about the homunculi, then I’d concede the idiot would have a damn good reason for his suspicions since we all know one of those bastards could shape shift.”

Olivier huffs, “The buffoon was incapable of spotting the obvious when it was right in front of his nose. If it weren’t for that, Hakuro would’ve been arrested in the conspiracy to overthrow Fuhrer Bradley with the rest. Thanks to all the openings in the higher ranks, he got promoted instead.”

“Hakuro isn’t going to let this matter drop,” Roy adds. “He was probably frothing at the mouth at the prospect of catching a spy impersonating Fullmetal.”

“He’s going to be angry over a missed chance and embarrassed once it gets out he ordered an arrest without probable cause,” Olivier concedes.

“Which means that Hakuro will be gunning for Kisa,” Maes sighs heavily. “He’ll be searching for proof she isn’t who she says she is.” His gaze turns predatory. “I can deal with Hakuro wanting retribution on my ass, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let that bastard hurt her again.”

“The girl is special to you,” Olivier arches a brow.

Maes nods, “It’s a long story I’m willing to share with you later, but she and her twin brother saved my life. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

“Well, you can’t repay that debt standing here gossiping, not with Hakuro loose on break as well. He may have even heard what happened by now,” Olivier points out dismissively. “I’ve got better things to do before lunch.”

Without another word she leaves Maes, Roy and Riza alone in the empty office. Maes silently follows her lead, well aware of Roy and Riza trailing behind him.

“Why are you following me?”

“We’re headed in the same direction,” Roy replies.

“We have to get something to eat,” Riza adds.

Maes rolls his eyes. “The mess is in the opposite direction.”

“Is it now?” Riza drolly queries.

Maes shakes his head, muttering, “You’re both incorrigible.”

“We still have an hour and a half for lunch and have to set up measures to protect Kisa. You can’t skip out on the meeting to watch her,” Roy reasons.

“I know.” Maes reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Unfortunately everyone in my division I can trust is busy. Besides, if Capt. Ross and 2nd Lt. Brosh couldn’t convince the arresting officers to listen and check the paperwork, there’s almost no one else who can stop Hakuro if he pushes the issue. I doubt Kisa’s medical treatment will be complete, much less that she’ll be released by the time we return to the meeting.”

“Assuming the doctor on duty doesn’t send her over to the hospital for an overnight stay,” Roy adds.

“What a hell of a way to spend her first day and night in Central,” Maes growls, shaking his head.

“I can sit with Kisa until the meeting concludes,” Riza offers. When Maes stops to protest, she cuts him off. “I will work on paperwork since I’m merely a buffer in case Hakuro sends anyone else to arrest her.”

“Hakuro won’t be bothering her anymore once we’re through with him.” Maes and Riza turn to look at Roy. “It’s a good idea to bring this to the Fuhrer’s attention. Hakuro is abusing his authority by ignoring protocol and the law to violate Kisa’s rights as an Amestrian citizen simply because she’s a dead ringer for Fullmetal.”

“You just want to embarrass Hakuro again,” Maes arches a brow.

“That too,” Roy smirks.

Maes shakes his head fondly. Becoming serious he adds, “Hakuro is going to keep trying simply to prove he’s right for as long as he thinks he can get away with it.”

“Hakuro has always been suspicious of your reappearance when you had been declared dead,” Riza reminds them. “He never accepted the explanation that you were on a special undercover assignment for Fuhrer Bradley.”

Wearily Maes’ rubs the bridge of his nose.

“What a mess. If I’d known this could happen I would’ve asked Denny and Maria to take Kisa home. However, I wanted to spend time with her after the meeting getting reacquainted. As it was, Kisa was nervous about meeting Gracia and Elicia.”

“There was no way to know Hakuro would see her, much less attempt to save Amestris from an imaginary spy,” Roy points out. “We can’t change what happened, but we can keep Hakuro far away from her.”

“I’ll pick up my paperwork,” Riza interrupts. “Then I’ll get lunch for all of us.” Turning to Maes, she suggests, “You should contact Gracia. On the off chance the doctor doesn’t hospitalize Kisa, she needs time to prepare for an injured guest.”

“I’m not looking forward to explaining this to Gracia,” Maes grimaces.

“Better than showing up at home with Kisa wrapped in bandages,” Roy reasons.

Riza turns to Roy, suggesting, “You should put a call into Col. Douglas. He’s still in charge of Provost Marshall’s Office and even though Arjun and Bison are now in their care, he may not yet know about Hakuro’s involvement. He might appreciate a warning of the impending fallout.”

Roy contemplates it before muttering, “As it is he hates when military personnel abuses rank and ignores protocol regardless of who they are. He’d be more inclined to conduct a thorough investigation to make sure Hakuro doesn’t continue abusing his rank.”

“I’ll meet you both in the medical wing,” Riza salutes, turning to head in the opposite direction while the two men continue towards the medical wing.

When they checked in at the reception desk, they learn the doctor is still examining Kisa. Maes takes the time to call Gracia while Roy finds another extension to put in a call to Col. Douglas. Afterward, both men reconvene in a nearby waiting room.

“Well, I called it,” Maes sighs heavily as they settle next to each other in the seats. “Gracia was upset to hear what happened, but said she’d have things ready should Kisa be allowed to return home with me.”

“That makes two of us,” Roy replies. “My conversation with Douglas was brief, but he was not happy to hear about what happened. The security division falls under his command as well, so he was not pleased to hear about his own men participating in Hakuro’s bad deeds and swore to conduct a thorough investigation immediately.”

“That doesn’t do much to stop Hakuro in the meantime. We’re probably going to have to slow down the meeting further to inform the Fuhrer about the situation.”

Roy shrugs. “It’s still a hell of a lot more interesting than the agenda so far.”

“True,” Maes laughs.

Soon Riza arrives with lunch and they eat while waiting for word from the doctor. A half hour before Roy and Maes have to return to their meeting, the doctor finally comes out.

“Good afternoon, generals, colonel,” the young doctor greets. “I’m Dr. Knox.”

“Doctor Knox?” Roy asks, mirroring Riza’s surprise. “Are you related to Dr. Knox the pathologist?”

“He’s my father,” the young brunet smiles. “After everything my father went through because of Ishval, I’m trying to do what I can to help the military correct the sins of the past.”

When they nod in understanding Dr. Knox begins to explain the extent of Kisa’s injuries.

“Ms. Namikaze didn’t sustain any grievous or life threatening injuries. She has a mild concussion from the blow to her left temple and the wound did require stitches. The doctor currently stitching her up will keep the stitches as small and neat as possible to minimize scarring and estimates it’ll take about eight stitches to close the wound. Two of her ribs are fractured, but fortunately not broken. There’s not much we can do as they’ll heal on their own. Normally I’d advise against strenuous movement, but her movement is going to be severely limited anyway because of the dislocation of her right shoulder and right hip.”

Maes blinks in shock, repeating, “Her hip is dislocated?”

Dr. Knox nods.

“Initially it appeared all her injuries were to her upper body and since her skirt is very loose it obscured the obvious signs of dislocation. When she was conscious, she was in so much pain she probably wasn’t even aware of it. We did an extensive exam and that’s how we caught it. Both her hip and shoulder have been reset, so other than some bruising around the injured areas, she’s in pretty good shape.”

“Is she’s going to be hospitalized?” Maes asks.

Dr. Knox answers with his own question, “Does she have someone at home capable of taking care of her?”

“She’ll be living with my family,” Maes nods.

“Good. She’s unconscious right now, but can go home with you when she wakes up. She’s going to have to take it easy for a few weeks and will need a lot of rest because of the concussion. Her arm will have to be in a sling while it heals and she’ll be wheelchair bound for a couple of weeks, gradually switching to crutches then maybe a cane.” Pausing to let the information sink in, Dr. Knox adds, “I read the initial report that she’s newly immigrated from Azambra. She’s been suffering malnutrition for a while hasn’t she?”

“For years,” Maes readily admits. “She survived the oppressive occupation of Azambra.”

“That explains why she took so much damage,” Knox sighs before explaining further. “Had she been healthier the worst that might’ve happened besides the stitches is bruising. She impacted a plaster wall, but that’s not uncommon around here. However, most military personnel are in good condition and aren’t likely to suffer that many injuries. She needs to see a family physician and go on a special diet to recover from the long lasting effects of the malnutrition. Especially with her left hand.”

“What about her left hand?” Maes asks in confusion.

It’s Dr. Knox’s turn to look puzzled. “Didn’t you notice she’s missing three fingers on her left hand?”

Stunned Maes slowly shakes his head, “I met her over two years ago and only saw her for the first time since then when they carried her unconscious on a litter out of the detention area. I didn’t notice her hand.”

“She only has her index and thumb fingers on her left hand,” Knox explains. “It obviously was a poor amputation as there are signs of recurring infection. I’m not an expert in orthopedics, but I’ve seen similar situations. It’s possible she may need surgery.” He pauses to give Maes and the others a moment to process his words before continuing. “I recommend you get a referral to an orthopedic specialist when you follow up with your family doctor. I’ll prescribe pain medication; otherwise her orders are plenty of bed rest.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Maes stands to shake his hand.

Dr. Knox nods at Riza and Roy before leaving the three officers alone again.

Sitting back down heavily, Maes groans as he buries his face in his hands, muttering, “This is one hell of a way to start a new life in Amestris.”

Roy crosses his arms commenting, “Then we’ll have to take it out on Hakuro’s hide on Kisa’s behalf.”

Dropping his hands, Maes nods grimly. “That we will.”

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