If you are reading this, I am not only dead, but executed. I have no idea how it will happen, but since this is in your hands, it has. I hope that Hawkeye or Havoc or Hughes was the one to give this to you. I hope they weren't convicted because of me. I have never lied to you. You know that, I think. I have, however, occasionally not mentioned some things I felt it was better for you not to know. I am not going to applogize. If you are reading this, and not dead because of your attachment to my unit, you will understand why I did not mention them. To which, no doubt, you are now replying, "Bullshit."
I'll try to explain.
When I was twenty-three, I was a very newly qualified NCA and sent to help quell the Eastern Uprising. I marched off to war, and killed people because I was ordered to do so. I came back and promised myself that this whole filthy mess of a country and government would be purged. Remember what Marco said, about hiding a tree in a forest? It's a good theory to work on.
When I was twenty-six, I had realized that a direct rebellion, even of alchemists, would be useless, and, furthermore, most of the National Alchemists had too much of a stake in the military to even try. I think I was a Lietenant Colonel by then, and was fighting my way up as fast as I could go. Then a letter came for a deserter, and I went to the East to find out who had sent it.
I don't think you know what you looked like then. I hope you don't. A very small boy (I speak of my impressions then, Fullmetal, so you may calm down now) lying on a bed, unconcious, pale, with blood seeping through his bandages. You hear of people complaining of having to pay an arm and a leg for something, but that was the first time I'd ever seen the literal truth of the statement. Your brother was hunched on the floor, a huge, hulking piece of metal that still managed to look very lost and small and frightened. It was the first time I had ever seen a newly transmuted soul.
I'd seen some older suits of armor, but I thought the art had been lost, and, looking at what it cost you, I can't say I'm sorry. (Every suit of armor I've spoken to has not only refused to tell anybody how they've gotten that way, but I think some of them were ready to kill you when they found out that there was a new one. I stopped one of them by telling him your story; I think he must have spread the word, because you were left severely alone by soul-armor after that.)
By that time, I took every advantage I could get. Here was a boy who could transmute a living soul to a suit of armor, and had tried to bring the dead to life without dying in the attempt. If that boy could do that much at the age of twelve, what would he be able to do, if pointed in the right direction? What would he do in the wrong hands? What would he do in the right hands? Most importantly, what would he do in mine?
I am sorry I used you without explaining what I was trying to do. I try to tell myself it was for your safety, that someone must survive without a stain on his character if this foolish idea of mine is to have a chance in hell, but those are only excuses. Even the fact that there is no way you could get your body, and your brother's body, back without the funding and equipment and access to knowledge of a National Alchemist does not excuse me. I am not sorry I taught you what I did, about power and the reasons why I am buried in a dishonored grave.
I cannot ask you to go on, to fight for something that you never asked to be a part of. I hope that you will, that at least you will continue being your own bullheaded self, willing to fight for anybody that ignites your pity. I hope you and your brother get your bodies back, and live long and happy lives.
I'm sorry I couldn't be there longer. I tried to ease your path, just a little, and I'm sorry I couldn't help you more. If you should decide to prove that you could do what Colonel Shithead could not, I have files hidden away. Remember Dr Marco. They should help you. They are not at my place of residence, naturally, and if all goes according to plan nobody would be able to search there, anyway. (Do you know what a slow burn is? Besides the state of your temper, I mean. Set a spark, give it just enough fuel to creep along the tender you have set, and eventually it will reach a spot with enough fuel and oxygen to ignite completely. If you're clever about it, they can't even find where the fire was first set.)
Once you promised me that you would dance on my grave. I'm keeping you to that promise, you know. And I hope you will understand that I will rise up from hell and kick your short ass the way I should have done long ago if you do it before you have both limbs and Al's body back. Consider it your last order from your disgraced commanding officer.
Hawkeye wants to know what I'm doing instead of my paperwork. Goodbye, Edward. Good luck.
Ed passed the letter silently to Al.
Al read it and looked at him. "What are we going to do?"
Ed took the letter back, clapped his hands, and transmuted it to dust. "We're going to get our bodies back," he said, flatly. His eyes were hard and bright. "And then we're going to change the world."