Edward stretched broadly, and snapped his mouth shut with a grin. "All right, let's face the bastard," he muttered, smoothing down his black jacket and brushing off a few specks of dirt on his black jeans before pushing open the doors to the North Annex Headquarters. Alphonse made a worried sound, and Edward threw a grin over his shoulder. "I finished the report, don't worry!"
"I'll wait in the side office, then," Alphonse said. He sounded like he was trying to be cheerful, and Edward relented.
"I don't think the Lieutenant Colonel will get on my case that much," Edward said confidently. "We did some good, after all."
He nodded to the front reception guard and took the steps two at a time, the report clutched in his hand. He'd not slept well on the train, restless with vague dreams of an upset Alphonse and an abandoned chimera with Duo's face. A long shower and a short nap in the dorms had restored at least his outward appearance, but his stomach churned every time he thought of the possibility that he'd let a human be mistaken for an alchemist's creation. He was doing his best not to think about it, but he couldn't put off seeing Mustang. He still wanted to head east, for the rumors he'd heard about Liore.
Edward pushed open the door to Mustang's staff office, to find Second Lieutenant Hawkeye going over papers with Sergeant-Major Farman. The tall man grinned when he saw Edward, followed closely by Alphonse.
"Hey, Elric!" Farman winked at Edward. "So what kind of trouble did you get into this time?"
"Nothing we couldn't handle," Edward replied, grinning smugly.
"Edward, Alphonse," Hawkeye greeted them. "Did you get something to eat? Havoc brought donuts this morning, if you..."
"I'm fine, thank you," Alphonse said politely, seating himself by Hawkeye's desk.
Edward was already there, poking through the box. "Are there any cream-filled?"
"I think First Lieutenant Hawkeye already ate those," Farman told Edward in a stage whisper.
Behind them, Hawkeye sniffed, and Alphonse giggled quietly.
"So is the—" Edward took another bite of a donut covered with sprinkles, his words muffled as he talked around the huge bite. "—Lieutenant Colonel in his office?"
"Yes, and he's been expecting you," Hawkeye said, dropping several files on her desk and taking a seat.
"Figures." Edward finished off the donut, and took another one, looking around. "Where's Havoc?" He didn't miss the look Hawkeye gave Farman, who shrugged.
"I think he's running errands, for the Lieutenant Colonel," Farman replied. He noticed Hawkeye's stare, and accepted the file she was holding out to him. Opening it, he continued to speak in a distracted tone. "He should probably be back in a few minutes..."
"Ah." Edward shoved the last bite into his mouth, and studied the remaining donuts. Neither of them seemed quite as appetizing, and his stomach was feeling ill again at the thought of dealing with Mustang at the same time he'd not really decided yet whether he'd done the right thing where Duo was concerned. He sighed, and carefully licked his fingers. "I guess I should go see him."
"That would be good," Hawkeye said, in a neutral tone. "Do you—"
"Right here," Edward said, waving the report in his right hand. "Okay, going now..." He stared at the office door, and wondered whether it would hurt to have one more donut.
"Go on, brother," Alphonse encouraged. "The sooner you give your report, the sooner we can leave for Liore."
"Oh, true." Edward straightened his shoulders, and gave Hawkeye a huge grin. "Thanks for the donuts!"
"Anytime, Edward," Hawkeye said, giving him a quick smile before bending her head back to her work.
"Knock 'em dead," Farman whispered.
Edward waved a hand over his shoulder, heading for the door with a confident air that faded as soon as he was out in the hallway. Yeah, I wish I could knock Mustang something, he thought. Of course, the bastard would be dead and in his coffin and he'd still probably be wearing that insufferable smirk.
Squaring his shoulders, Edward put his hand on the doorknob to Mustang's office. He halted when he heard voices, faintly, through the door.
"...And clearly knows how to use it, sir." Havoc's voice was businesslike. Mustang's murmured response was too low to be heard. Havoc continued, "no, sir. I don't think it's a risk. Definitely some military background...including a knowledge of..." He paused, and Edward could hear Mustang chuckle before Havoc continued speaking. "Oh, and I talked to Miss Thompson. She said she only had twenty."
Edward opened the door in time to see Mustang taking out his wallet.
"Good," Mustang was saying. "As for Miss Thompson...here."
Edward's eyebrows shot up. Neither man reacted to his entrance, though he knew Mustang was aware of it. Hell, Edward grumbled, Mustang probably knew the split second he'd entered the building. He watched as Mustang handed several bills to Havoc, who put them in a dark green leather wallet and folded the top over. Picking up a second wallet laying on the edge of Mustang's desk, Havoc saluted Mustang and turned to see Edward standing in the open doorway.
"Hey, boss!" Havoc gave Edward a jaunty salute. "Welcome back to Central."
"Thanks," Edward replied, smiling in return. "Good to be back."
"I see you found the donuts, too." Havoc winked and surreptitiously tapped the side of his mouth as he left Mustang's office. Edward frowned, then wiped his mouth quickly with the cuff of his red jacket while Mustang put his wallet away. Edward gave the Lieutenant Colonel a curious look.
"What was that about? You handing out money, now?" Edward kicked the door closed behind him and strolled into the office.
"A minor issue, and you already have a salary, Fullmetal," Mustang said, and sat down behind his desk. "You should also have a report for me."
Edward dropped the file on the desk, then strode over to the couch and threw himself on it. He crossed his legs and leaned back, laying one arm along the back of the couch, and waited while Mustang read over the report. When he didn't hear the sound of pages being flipped through, he frowned and looked over to see Mustang watching him intently, one eyebrow raised.
"Sir?" Edward frowned deeper, and glanced pointedly at the file.
"Gain anything as pertains to your personal mission?" Mustang leaned back a little in his chair. His mouth quirked at one end but smoothed immediately. Edward shrugged nonchalantly and rested his elbow on the arm of the sofa, his cheek against his fist and stared at nothing in particular.
"Nothing useful. I wanted to head for Liore. You're the one who insisted on the side trip," Edward pointed out.
"I had heard the doctor had successfully managed human transmutation," Mustang told him. "However, I take it he wasn't even close."
"He thought he did," Edward admitted, and shrugged again. "He was in cahoots with the local military commandant, creating chimeras with the—"
"—Intention of blaming their attacks on Drachma," Mustang finished for him. "A simple plan, but it could have been quite effective if not for the sudden appearance of the People's Alchemist." He said the unofficial title with no additional irony, but Edward bristled nonetheless.
"Yeah, but I stopped all of that. Wasser's being replaced, too." Edward waved one hand, dismissively. "It's all in the file. No human transmutation, only a plot to—"
"—Increase Wasser's command as a means towards promotion," Mustang said, in a musing tone. He opened the file, glancing through it, and closed it again. "Strange, there's nothing in here about Doctor Kaufkorn's success at transposition."
Edward dropped his fist from his cheek and gave Mustang a startled look. Before the other man could look up, Edward managed to cover his shock with a casual laugh. "Yeah, that's what it looks like he was trying to do. He wanted to transpose the chimeras from his basement to somewhere in the town, so he wouldn't be incriminated by being at the scene of the crime."
Mustang waved one hand dismissively. "But he decided instead he'd transpose a chimera and a dead body, at the same time."
Edward blinked, forgetting for a second that he meant to frown, instead.
"So tell me," Mustang prompted him. "After we spoke on the phone..."
"I went to the military headquarters to file the paperwork for shipping the chimeras," Edward said, settling back down, just a touch annoyed. "When we got back to the Doctor's house—"
"Yes, yes." Mustang waved his hand again. "The chimeras were gone, except for seven that were out of their cages."
Edward contemplated someday cutting that hand off. He glowered, but continued his report. "We fought the chimeras and ended up killing all of them, at which point Second Lieutenant Holt showed up and insisted we stay at the Officer's Quarters instead. I didn't want to leave everything behind, so—"
"You packed it all in Alphonse and smuggled it out of the house that way," Mustang finished for him. "And?"
Edward's metal hand tightened on the couch cushion, as he struggled to keep his growing irritation in check. "We spent some time studying the Doctor's notes, and deconstructed the array to determine it was a transposition based on—"
"Prokov's Thesis," Mustang said. He leaned back in his chair, twisting it to stare out the window, his hands clasped across his lap. Edward was silent, gritting his teeth, and Mustang waited for several seconds before turning to give Edward a bemused look. "Well?"
"The base array is similar to Hosten's style," Edward said. "Comparing them and what we'd read of the Doctor's notes, that's when—"
"You got the bright idea to break into the military headquarters and see if you could find any proof on Wasser's end."
Edward fumed silently. "Yes, sir," he finally ground out.
"It is curious," Mustang pondered, "that that very night, the doctor's house burned down, along with all his research."
"Yes, sir—" Edward did his best to give Mustang a blas—look. "—but we managed to save some of the more important files and papers—"
"—Which were, according to rumor, accidentally thrown away by a janitor while you were bombing the military headquarters into a pile of rubble."
"Hey..." Edward gaped, noticed Mustang's smirk, and shut his mouth with a glare. "I didn't—"
"Oh?" Mustang swung his chair around to rest his elbows on his desk, fixing Edward with a mildly bemused look. "You're innocent? This is a new one."
"I didn't say that, sir!"
"Don't tell me you accepted help." Mustang leaned forward, his hands clasped under his chin. His expression was impassive, but his lips were doing that telltale twitch that indicated a full-blown smirk was about to start any second. "Unusual. You never do, unless it's to get something off the top shelf in the library—"
Edward was on his feet in an instant. "Who the HELL are you calling so SHORT you need—"
"Fullmetal!" Mustang's voice was a command. "Sit down!"
Edward collapsed back on the couch, scowling, and crossed his arms.
"I'm sure Alphonse was a significant part of this venture, as always," Mustang continued, unruffled, with no signs of his sharp response. "Despite the fact that you were probably the ringleader, as usual."
"I..." Edward glared for another two seconds, just on matter of principle, and sunk down a little on the couch. "Bombing the entire building was not my idea."
"So you just wanted bombs in a few places, then?" Mustang tilted his head, looking amused.
"No, just a few as distraction, although I found out afterwards that—" Edward shut his mouth, biting back the rest of his words.
"Someone had placed several around the chimeras' holding cell in the basement?"
"Uh...something like that." Edward frowned, trying to cover his aggravation. How the hell did Mustang know that detail already? "The chimeras got out, and—"
"You then had to slaughter the last of them when they attacked you." Mustang's expression never altered from its implacable assessment as Edward stared at him, wide-eyed. "And right on the steps of the building in front of the military installation's commandant and most of the townsfolk, too. Very flashy, Fullmetal."
"But I'm sure with all the time you had to study the doctor's research, you'll be able to duplicate his alchemy."
"And possibly enumerate his processes for mixing canine and aviary strains into an attack chimera."
"I..." Edward realized he hadn't taken a breath in several seconds and nearly choked, then irritation got the better of him. He sat up straight, slamming his booted feet down on the floor as he leaned across the couch arm to yell at Mustang. "Why should I bother spending all that time writing a report for you when you KNOW IT ALREADY!"
"Simmer down, Fullmetal." Mustang didn't even flinch at Edward's yell.
Edward deflated. "Yes, sir," came the reluctant reply. Outside the office, he could hear running feet and a door slammed down the hallway, but Mustang didn't react. Edward slunk down farther in the couch, crossing his arms, and didn't bother to look at the Lieutenant Colonel. He was quite certain the man's smirk had gone past the annoying level and into downright unbearable. The man is insufferable, Edward grumbled silently.
"There have been skirmishes on our southern borders for the past two years," Mustang said conversationally, his smirk completely gone. He got up from his chair and walked around it to lean against the desk as he stared down at Edward. "The last thing we need is to divert troops to the Briggs Mountains to protect a town that isn't under attack. So while I'm sure that there will be those who will be upset at the loss of the doctor's research, I have faith you can placate them by reproducing his notes on the process."
Edward's eyes narrowed, and he grumbled under his breath, only somewhat mollified by the implied praise.
"Now, then, Fullmetal, there's one more thing we need to—"
"Sir!" The door burst open, and Hawkeye came rushing through, her eyes worried. Mustang looked up, confused, to see Hawkeye stepping out of the way and saluting as a man stepped through the door.
"Major General Tanaka," Mustang said, immediately standing up and saluting the man. His eyes were narrowed, however, and he didn't look pleased.
Edward caught the flash of Mustang's displeasure and came to his feet, uncertain. His eyes widened when he saw the two officers attending Tanaka. One of them was a man with silvery-blond hair and the insignia of a First Lieutenant; the other was Major Selwyn. The Major's eyes flicked towards Edward for a split-second. Hawkeye shut the door behind the men, but remained in the room, her gaze watchful.
"I understand you're the commanding officer for the Fullmetal Alchemist," the Major General barked. He was an imposing man, if not much taller than Mustang. His wide chest and deep voice made him seem like he was hollering from the depths of a barrel that just happened to be dressed like a high-ranking officer in the military, with various medallions and insignias decorating his chest. His salt-and-pepper hair was cropped close to his skull, and his small black mustache was nearly as spiky. He glanced at Edward, clearly dismissing him, and looked at Mustang again. "I need to speak with Fullmetal. Now."
Edward didn't say anything, and didn't move.
"May I ask why?" Mustang's voice was steady, as though Tanaka's request was nothing out of the ordinary. "He's only just returned from—"
"We believe he's harboring an alchemical project which falls under my jurisdiction," Tanaka said gruffly. "Doctor Kaufkorn was under contract, and as such, his findings are our responsibility. After Kaufkorn's...unfortunate demise, we have the right to his research and all results therefrom."
Mustang nodded. "Understood. But Fullmetal returned here with nothing more than what he'd taken into Duiren," he said.
Edward resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Yet another piece of information that Mustang had that Edward wasn't sure how Mustang obtained. The only thing he was pretty certain about was that Mustang still didn't know about Duo, but the Major General's appearance had interrupted the report before Edward could have the pleasure of seeing Mustang be shocked into silence. Edward scowled internally. He'd rather been looking forward to it, although it'd taken him a bit to realize Mustang wasn't aware of Duo's role. It would have been a wonderful experience, Edward thought, and stifled a forlorn sigh. The Major General's voice snapped him out of his momentary daydream.
"We have reason to believe the doctor successfully created a homunculus, and a vicious one, at that," Tanaka said, his voice dropping to a low register. His smile may have been meant to disarm, but the gravelly voice made the look more threatening than congenial. "Fullmetal was with this homunculus from its discovery until it was taken into custody, at which point it disappeared from the civilian police station."
"That sounds like it's something you should take up with the police, not my staff," Mustang replied in a reasonable tone. There was the faintest edge of boredom in Mustang's attitude, and Edward wasn't sure why. His curiosity was piqued, but at the same time, he was somewhat annoyed. Mustang didn't even seem remotely surprised at the Major General's words.
"The police station was attacked in the same manner as the military headquarters," Tanaka answered. "Which leads us to believe that Fullmetal followed the escorting officers to the police station, broke the homunculus out of the holding cell, and brought it to Central."
"Did you?" Mustang's stare was bored, but one eyebrow was arched.
Edward gulped, as everyone in the room turned to look at him, but the heartbeat passed and he gave Mustang a respectful shake of his head. "No, sir. I left the military headquarters with my brother, going straight to the train station, and remained there until the four-thirty train arrived, at which point we left Duiren." He kept his face perfectly straight, although tempted to sneer at Tanaka's frustrated growl. "And the only thing we carried out was what we had with us when we arrived," he added.
"Smoke bombs are not Fullmetal's style," Mustang said to Tanaka, as though it should have been obvious. "Alchemy, not chemistry."
"Then the homunculus must have followed him here," Tanaka said. "The doctor's results are of significant military import. I'm assigning Major Selwyn to accompany Fullmetal at all times—" Mustang opened his mouth to protest, but the Major General held up a hand. "—until we can either locate the homunculus or determine that Fullmetal is innocent of theft."
"It's not a homunculus," Mustang said, and a thin line appeared between his brows, as though mildly annoyed. "It—he—is a human boy."
Edward barely managed to keep his mouth from falling open in shock. What? His mind screamed. What the hell? How the hell does Mustang know that? He thought his expression was neutral, but Mustang's eyes cut towards him and back again, the merest glance, and Edward swallowed hard. He knew a warning when he saw one. He wasn't sure how Mustang knew of Duo, but obviously Mustang had decided to protect the boy, too. Edward wondered if everyone in the room could hear his pounding heart as he waited for the Major General's response.
"It was created in the doctor's basement," Tanaka replied. "I've read the reports from the doctor, detailing his discovery."
"He transposed, not transmuted," Mustang answered. "In fact, the boy he transposed, from Fullmetal's report to me, appears to be a beginner alchemist from Xing."
"He's..." Tanaka's jaw dropped, and he caught himself, his brows coming together. "That's ridiculous!"
"It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility for an alchemist," Mustang replied. He crossed his arms, his right hand resting lightly on his upper arm so the alchemical array on the back of his white glove could be clearly seen. "I've never heard of arrays crossing, but stranger things have happened. While the boy doesn't speak our language, he and Fullmetal were able to communicate on a rudimentary level. It's possible that the boy may have gotten out of the police station by himself, and headed east, for Xing."
"It's a two-month journey across the desert," Tanaka protested. "That's suicide."
"We have no quarrel with Xing at this time," Mustang replied. "The boy—"
"—Should still be found and interrogated, and then I'll determine whether we should return him," Tanaka said, cutting Mustang off with an angry gesture. "Even if it's not a homunculus, the knowledge from the doctor's project should be studied thoroughly. It could have significant military use. We need to find that boy!"
"Fullmetal here had a chance to study the array," Mustang said, nodding to Edward. "I'm sure he'd be more than willing to reproduce the doctor's notes from memory, and you can pass them along to your scientific staff. A beginner alchemist, on the other hand, would probably not be able to assist much in comparison."
Tanaka grunted, then turned to the second officer and nodded. The man saluted sharply, clicking his heels together as he did so, and left the room without a word. "I see," Tanaka said, quietly, and somehow that was more worrisome to Edward than the man's previous blustering. Tanaka gave Edward a level stare. "In the meantime, Major Selwyn will remain with Fullmetal until we've located this boy, just to make sure."
"I don't—" Mustang started to speak.
"Are you contradicting orders from a superior officer?"
"No, sir," Mustang answered. His tone was respectful, but his hand tightened on his forearm. "Fullmetal, you heard. I suggest you work in the main library, and I will send someone for you if I need you."
That's odd, Edward thought. Mustang never sends anyone for me. It's not like I'd come, anyway, he added, but couldn't find it amusing in the light of Mustang's odd comment. "Yes, sir," he finally said, realizing the three men were waiting for his response. "Wait, sir, main library? I should go to the East—"
"Central Branch," Mustang said. "Major Selwyn won't be allowed in the East Branch." He glanced pointedly at the chain hanging from Edward's belt, and then at Selwyn, who frowned. The implication was clear: Selwyn, a non-alchemist, was limiting Edward's movements and thus potentially hampering Edward's chances of successfully producing results.
"You'll just have to make do." Tanaka looked at Selwyn, who saluted, and then at Mustang, who did the same. "Good day, gentlemen. I'll be notifying you immediately the minute we find that homunculus, or boy, or whatever it is, Lieutenant Colonel Mustang. In the meantime..." He glanced at Edward, who raised his chin just a bit and stared the man down.
I'm not military, Edward thought. And one smug bastard is enough in my life, thanks.
Tanaka just grunted again, and strode from the office. There was silence in the room for several seconds, and Mustang turned to give Edward a thoughtful look.
"Go on, Fullmetal. Get to work on those documents."
"Yes, sir." Edward gave Mustang a short bow, and left the room, Selwyn in his wake. The only good thing, he decided, was that so far Selwyn hadn't said a word to him. Maybe Ed would get lucky, and it'd stay that way.
Edward stared at the papers, flexing his left hand several times before picking up the pen again. He was halfway through a general summary of the doctor's theories and conclusions, based on what he'd read of the man's notes, but he wasn't sure about some details. He'd not spent a great deal of time focusing on the process the doctor had used for the chimeras, since that hadn't been as important to him as the question of the array in the basement, with its six secondary elements. Ed exhaled noisily, blowing his bangs out of his face, and leaned his cheek on his right hand. Selwyn was across the table from him, turned sideways in the chair to read a book in his lap. At least he wasn't staring at Edward anymore; apparently after two hours of working, Selwyn had figured out that Ed wasn't going anywhere. Edward made a face at the unaware Selwyn, and turned to stare out the tall window near the table.
It was mid-afternoon, and he could see several people talking in the courtyard in front of the Central Library. Several women in dress blues were chatting and laughing with someone else, and Edward scowled, reminded of Lieutenant Colonel Mustang. The guy was reputedly a complete womanizer...and then Ed nearly shoved his fist in his mouth to keep from laughing. One of the women had stepped out of the way, revealing Mustang was standing there, his long black coat over his uniform.
Strange, Edward thought. Hawkeye rarely lets Mustang out of the office during the day unless it's for business. There's no way...
He realized, after a few seconds' delay, that Mustang's left hand wasn't in his pocket, but hanging down at his side, making some odd gestures as though...Edward's eyes widened.
Okay, now I'm really going to smash his face in, someday, Edward promised himself. The bastard has met Duo, and he's got to know where he is! Those were Duo's hand signals. They looked a little different, but Edward wasn't sure he could reproduce them exactly either, having only seen them twice, and each time Duo's hands had moved so quickly. Then Mustang turned as one of the women said something, and he laughed, but his eyes were on the Central Library. Ed sat bolt upright with the distinct impression Mustang had just seen him. Edward glanced towards Selwyn, but the man appeared to be oblivious. Looking back outside, from the corner of his eyes, Ed watched as Mustang bowed to the two women and headed towards the East Library.
So that's the deal, Edward told himself. You go in the front, and I'll go around back. He grinned to himself, waiting until he saw Mustang disappear into the National Alchemists' private branch, and set down his pen.
"I have to go find Dustin's report on Angular Geometry in Transmutation," Edward announced.
"I can't go in the East Branch," Selwyn replied. "You'll just have to make do."
"And tell the Major General that I couldn't complete it because I wasn't able to confirm my information?" Edward stood up, and pulled on his red coat. "You can escort me to the door, and wait outside. There aren't any back exits I can use. I'm just going to get the book, check Dustin's research against Kaufkorn's, and then I'll be back."
Selwyn looked suspicious, and carefully set his book down. Edward collected his papers and stacked them neatly, folding them up and shoving them in the interior pocket of his coat.
"Ten minutes," Selwyn replied. "A second longer, and I'm informing Major General Tanaka—"
"Right, right," Edward said, already walking off. "Inform the damn national press for all I care. I just want to make sure what I'm reporting is accurate."
To his relief, Selwyn didn't protest, but followed as Edward strode from the library, waving to the librarian as he passed. The two were silent as they crossed the main courtyard to the East Branch, pausing at the top of the steps. Edward put his hand on the door, and Selwyn stepped in the way.
"Ten minutes," the Major repeated.
"I've got a watch," Edward said, both as response and a subtle reference to his status as a National Alchemist. He waited until Selwyn moved, and yanked the door open, striding into the cool darkness with a sigh of relief. Now, he just had to find Mustang.
It took him a few minutes to determine Mustang wasn't on the first floor, and Edward pounded up the stairs towards the mezzanine, feeling the seconds tick away. Go around back, his mind whispered to him, and he grinned to himself, heading for the back corner of the second floor. There, in a small cubicle tucked away behind dusty racks of books, was the Lieutenant Colonel.
"Fullmetal," Mustang said, quietly. "Can you reproduce the array?"
"What?" That wasn't quite what Edward was expecting. "What about Duo—"
"He's fine," Mustang said, a small smile playing around the corner of his mouth. "We're keeping him occupied and out of sight."
Edward nodded, relaxing suddenly, and gave Mustang a hesitant smile of his own, before returning to Mustang's original comments.
"I can reproduce the array, but what about—"
"I don't mean inadequately to mislead," Mustang replied. His voice was low, his eyes darting past Edward to watch the empty aisles. "I mean perfectly."
Edward nodded, his eyes wide.
"How long?" Mustang gave him a sharp look, and Edward frowned, considering it.
"Three hours, maybe four. Less if I had Al to he—"
"There's no way they'll let him in the building," Mustang interrupted. "Just you...and your shadow, of course. Third laboratory, fourth floor, room D. I've reserved it in your name. No need to check in."
"Reserved—" Edward shook his head, confused. "But I—"
"Fullmetal. Build the array, and make sure it's complete. You have until six this evening."
"What happens at six?"
"Inspection," Mustang said. "Now, go. You don't have a lot of time."
"Yes, sir," Edward said. He opened his mouth to say something else, couldn't think of anything, and simply bowed politely. Then he turned on his heel and headed for the stairs. He was halfway down them before he thought to check his watch, and the realization made him jump the last few steps and run from the library. One minute before Selwyn's deadline, and only two hours to complete a massive array, all by himself.
Smug bastard, Edward thought, nodding curtly to Selwyn. Just as quickly, though, he felt a flash of worry. Damn, he complained silently, I sure hope the Lieutenant Colonel knows what he's doing...