The Politics of Allegiance

In the weeks when it was all over and people smiled at each other again, those who had been involved and were left standing would look back on the very first day, the day that everything had started, and wonder why they hadn't seen it coming. Surely, they said to each other, there had been something, some kind of sign or warning that day, something that could have alerted them to do something before events had spun beyond their control. Surely.

It was a pointless question, of course. For starters, even if there had been something of significance that they had missed, it was too late to do anything about it. Besides, no one ever said that tumultuous times had to begin with a fanfare.

"Heard the news yet?" asked Sergeant Major Fury to his colleagues that morning, that ordinary first morning.

"Heard what?" asked Lieutenant Havok in a rather bored voice.

"About the appointment." Fury pulled a chair up to the desk and sat down. Beside him, Warrant Officer Farman looked up from his work. "The new Fuhrer has been announced."

That got everybody's interest. Even Lieutenant Hawkeye, sitting off to one side, put down her pen. "Who is it?" asked Breda.

Fury smiled at the attention. Before he could answer, though, the door opened. All the officers turned around as Colonel Mustang walked in. "Morning, Colonel," said Fury.

Colonel Roy Mustand nodded to them in greeting as someone entered the room behind him. Lieutenant Colonel Hughes waved. "Morning, all!"

Hawkeye gave her commanding officer a Look. "Have to started the reports that you have to do today, sir?" she asked.

Mustang flashed a smile and waved her off. "Something came up. So what is it that you need?" he asked Hughes.

"Just some files—I'll take a look myself." Hughes stepped past him to look at the shelves. "You'd think that Central would have copies of all the major documents that the outer cities have, but noo~o, we don't, which means I have to come out here and physically get them."

"You were saying, Fury?" asked Farman as the two senior officers talked.

"Oh." Fury straightened in the chair. "The new Fuhrer—it's not official yet, they've got to do the ceremony for that, but he's been announced. Joseph Heidrich. That ring a bell with anyone?"

"Heidrich?" Hughes looked up from where he and Mustang were looking through files, sunlight glinting off his glasses. "You mean Heidrich is the new Fuhrer?"

All eyes in the room turned to him. "You know him, Lieutenant Colonel?" asked Havok.

"Sure. He's one of the top brass in Intelligence. Pretty silent guy, doesn't talk much if he doesn't have to. But he's sharp, I'll tell you that."

"Intelligence?" Mustang frowned. "How did someone from Intelligence get appointed?"

Hughes shrugged. "Hey, I'm not in with the elite echelon of politics, so I don't know. I didn't even know he was in the running, and I work under the guy."

"Is he an alchemist?" asked Breda.

"Nah, he's a regular person, but he's done some prosecution work in alchemist cases. So he's got the top job now, eh? I'll have to congratulate him before it's official." Hughes closed the file he was looking at and put it on top of the small pile he had gathered. "These should do for now—I'll go read over them and see if I need anymore. You up for a drink tonight, Mustang, since I'm in the area?"

"Certainly. Just come get me whenever you're done."

"Great." Hughes put the files under his arm. He looked around. "By the way, I don't see Edward anywhere. Where is he?"

Mustang went with him to the door. "He and Alphonse are out north on a mission I gave them. They should be back in a couple of days. Assuming they don't get themselves into trouble, that is." There was an audible smirk in the Colonel's voice.

Hughes shook his head. "I'll probably miss them, then. But that's okay—you're going to have to come up to Central for the official ceremony for the new Fuhrer. Bring the Elric brothers along; Alicia and Gracia would love to see them."

"I'll think about it. If he's been a good boy."

"If he's going for drinks, does this mean we can get off early?" whispered Havok hopefully, something that was echoed by Breda.

Hawkeye pointedly shuffled the papers on her desk. "Colonel," she said crisply. "The discipline reports are due by the end of the day."

Mustang froze in the doorway, one hand on the handle. There was the slightest of sighs beneath the blue coat. "Thank you, Lieutenant," he said without turning around. Somewhere in the hall there was a snicker from Hughes. Mustang resumed walking, pulling the door closed behind him. A muttered, "If you don't stop laughing I'll toast you" was clearly heard, and the snickers morphed into full-fledged laughter.

Havok and Breda sighed. Fury looked at them, then to Farman who shrugged. "I don't suppose we're allowed to go to Central for the ceremony?" he wondered.

"Doubt it." Breda looked wistfully out the window. "Someone's got to make sure things stay in order out here."

Havok leaned back in his chair. "We could just leave Hawkeye here, she could take of the whole city by herself."

"I could, but I'd need you gentlemen handy to do all the hard work, something which none of you are doing at the moment."

Chastened, the men hurriedly returned to their duties. "Yes, ma'am."