Based on the manga, since I'm on too slow a connection to get all the episodes (and besides, Roy is more fun in the manga). Which means you'll likely see things that would look like continuity errors compared to the anime, like the fact that Roy was already promoted when Ed came for his test or that he's always at East City, etc. As this is set in the period between Roy going to Risembool and Ed entering the military, if you've read past volume 6, nothing in the data used should surprise you. This is also a mini-spoiler warning.


Clandestine Undertakings

Marie Selphine, 0645110. Went to the restaurant near the park, nice figure but really bad culinary taste. Decided she had a ticket for two to another restaurant afterwards, thanks to bad planning I guess. Couldn't find a good way to decline the offer. Other than that, quite ordinary. Wasn't all that spectacular in bed either.

Copper sulfide tested, 0.645 grams. Using Milton's sequential dynamics theory, applied on a five-cornered diagram with the usual triangular pathway for transfers. Tests went both ways, some results suggesting desired longevity but also instability, the second pathway proved to be hazardous in normal work conditions. Data inconclusive. Subatomic arrangement rather ordinary.

He snapped the booklet shut, sighing inwardly before turning to the mountain of paperwork sitting on the top of his desk. Getting promoted was nice and all, what with social climbing being his goal, but the package deal wasn't what one would think with the selling price. For another star on his shoulder, Colonel Roy Mustang was also rewarded with enough paper to transmute a library with. He had more people to outsource it to, of course, but he didn't know them well enough to start judging their worth yet. The office staff he knew, but with the promotion came new responsibilities that required him and him alone. Either that, or First Lieutenant Hawkeye liked to make life difficult. The Colonel had it figured that either way had equal possibilities.

Paperwork, the mountains of paperwork. If only Amestris had mountains like this for real, people wouldn't ever have to worry about mining operations effecting the environment ever again. No matter how persistent he was at carving a hole in it, the paperwork just kept piling higher and higher. Second Lieutenant Havoc once said, innocently and a long time ago, that it was the Colonel's (then Lt. Colonel's) fault for not finishing them in a timely fashion and thus leaving them to collect. He soon found a new opinion after Roy suggested the idea of an automatic cigar lighting service in the office, along with a demonstration. That resulted in more work from the obviously unhappy Hawkeye, and sometimes he wondered whether she was purposely hoarding the documents to pile on him in a heap once she got angry. They made a point out of keeping everybody's favourite sharpshooter happy from that day on, nevertheless.

Roy eyed the veritable Mt. Fuji. And gingerly picked up a slim piece of paper, as if he was afraid it might bite. The Colonel hung it in front of his face for a few moments, absently scanning through the contents that were invariably the same old order of the day. Supplies, bookkeeping, more things to check and authorize, requests and reports from field operatives—which were usually a tad more entertaining, although he usually kept himself informed through various other means anyway—receipts, invoices and other sundry things to check, verify, sign and seal. Then it was to the 'finished' pile to be proofreaded by the demo—First Lieutenant—who rarely ever called his meticulously prepared documents finished after she was done with them, and after that it's usually revision time. Roy could've sworn First Lieutenants existed only to invent torture methods for Colonels, but he wasn't about to say that one out loud.

The particular piece of paper he was looking at turned out to be in one of the more interesting categories—a request from a field operative, one Langdon something, sent to verify some rumors of a bank robber in Reid a while back. It seemed that the rumored robbery was a hoax, but the operative in turn uncovered traces of a significantly bigger smuggling operation with the South and had requested backup as well as a resupply. Roy inwardly smirked. Military resupplies seemed to be as common as going to a grocery store for some of the newer operatives, never mind that the use and disuse of reserve weapons and other things in a real battlefield could make a difference between life and death. But then again, a seven-year long war seemed long only to people who went through it. He signed the paper, threw it into the 'to be mercilessly proofread' pile, and picked up a new one.

The phone rang.

Roy gave the machine a glare before picking up the earpiece. This better not be one of those calls saying the Friday meeting had been changed to this evening instead again. "Colonel Mustang."

"Mustang-kun? What a relief. This is Major General Williamson speaking."

The Colonel found himself straightening. Major General Williamson was in charge of the South, and if that wasn't alerting enough, it was extremely rare for someone in the General's position to disregard the chain of command, go over the heads of Roy's superiors in the East and initiate a personal dialogue with him. "Sir," he acknowledged. "How may I be of assistance?"

A rather wry chuckle came through the line, which made it all the more alarming. The fact that he and the General never spoke to each other only added to the equations. "Well, I suppose the first order of the day is a congratulation on your new rank. Good work, Colonel. We've all heard about you and your remarkable achievements here in South HQ, and that's really something."

"I'm sure some of those are exaggerated beyond my actual abilities, sir," Roy replied, wondering if that was a jab or an actual statement and if it was the latter, then what specific achievements in the world ever warranted that wry chuckle in the first place.

"No doubt, no doubt, the power of human hearsay is rather remarkable. Rather like what you alchemists do, I would think. People take something and turn it into another." Okay. So that was a jab. "But of course, some of what we've heard must've been true. It couldn't all be just rumors, could it? Your promotion speaks for itself."

He made sure his voice was perfectly grateful when he answered. The General was up to something, and he wasn't really sure what it was. Either it was something innocent that the man would tell him later in the conversation, or it was something he needed to call on his rather limited favors with Hughes for. Roy didn't really like the idea of sitting through Alicia's albums and tape recordings as payment ever again. "Thank you for the compliment, General, but I still have a long way to go."

From the tone of General Williamson's voice, if he was here in person, he would've waved his hand in dismissal. "Through the ranks, obviously."


"Now then, Mustang-kun, is your line secure?"

Roy blinked. That was incredibly forward for something that was supposed to be covert. And rather insulting for East Headquarters, though he had no way of telling whether that was intentional or not. "Sir, I'm in my office at the main—"

"Is your line secure, Colonel?"

Well. That was one option out. The General wanted an answer, and providing a politically correct one that would describe the situation was his job, since he wasn't about to show his entire deck just because General Williamson was almost stupidly blunt. It was a pity most of the military couldn't talk in code. "Of course. We at East Quarters always maintain constant vigilance over our security protocols. Our lines are thoroughly checked, and routinely," he answered, sounding as proud of his workplace as he could. "Although, I'm a State Alchemist, and we tend to be rather pessimistic about these machines." In truth, the State Alchemists thanked heavens or the God of Books, if there was one, for electricity, the printing press and ceiling fans. Running water in combustion-centric mini-laboratories also helped. Some of their civilian counterparts were even known to have started car repair services in competition with the more traditional mechanics.

That earned a sigh from General Williamson. Either he understood or he didn't, but Roy figured it wouldn't matter much anyway if whatever the man's intention was could've gotten him into personal contact with a Colonel. "Very well. I shall be brief then. There is a mission of great import that we want you to take. I can't tell you the details right now and due to its covert nature, there will be no official papers, I'm afraid to say. But this mission is critical, I can assure you, and I can give you the proper contacts should you accept it. Which I hope you will."

Roy Mustang stared at the phone for one moment, then at his calendar. This movement was repeated for several minutes until he was quite sure that it wasn't April Fool's day. "A mission, sir?"

"Like I said, I can't tell you the details, but it is of great importance to us. Discretion is the better part of valor, you could say. All I can tell you is that you, Colonel Mustang, were especially requested for the job, and with great insistence. We'll get it cleared with your HQ as soon as possible, but it's urgent, and we need your answer now. Yes or no, Colonel?"

The mention of his rank meant that the General was serious. Dead serious. Likewise, Roy pushed the mental button for negotiator mode and let the calculations run in his head. On one hand, this could be an elaborate trap to discredit him with his superiors, but on the other hand...

"If you are dead set against it, of course, I might be able to convince them that others—" was also a great opportunity, whether for future favors or for learning more of his enemies and the secrets the military held. Whatever it was, he figured he had no way to lose, assuming the mission wasn't anything extremely hazardous. And Roy Mustang's definition of hazardous was rather warped by most standards. "I'll do it, sir. It's a great honor to be chosen by the military."

He could hear a palpable sigh of relief from the other man. "Thanks heavens. I'll get there and clear it up with General Maxwell as soon as I can, but I want you to get packed. As soon as possible. And we'll need you to go to the Pellington Hotel tonight, and alone. You know the place, don't you? It's your area. We'll have someone there to explain everything to you, and the rest is already arranged. That is all, Colonel, good luck."

The telephone went dead with a click.

Roy stood there listening to the sound of the phone beeping for a while.

The General was abrupt, quite abrupt. It even sounded like he was rushing through all that like an express train just to be rid of the conversation, which pretty much nailed down the coffin lid and probably added a few meters of soil above it as far as the fishiness level of this whole mission was concerned. If Roy ever had a rational side, it was currently complaining about the whole wisdom of the situation.

After all, the first thing he'd have to do was to cancel his date.