The day Roy Mustang arrived in Ishvar was hot as Hell; hot sun, an orange sky and breezes so gentle they were barely there stirring the sand but doing nothing to cool those in heavy blue uniforms of the Amestris Army; uniforms so clean on the train but dirty the moment they stepped off, grains of sand getting caught in the fibres in the material. He had stayed on the train, gloves in sweating hands until they had sent someone to come looking for him—a bumbling young Private who had nervously requested that he meet one of the Fuhrer's personal assistants named General Storch.
Exiting the train, he found that most of the troops that were at base seemed to either be preparing their weapons or sleeping (outside the tents; apparently, the humidity the material of the tents produced was less bearable than the midday Ishvar sun) and he followed the young officer to a tent emblazoned with the symbol of the army and was told to wait until the second-to-last State Alchemist to be briefed was dismissed. Once the tent was vacated (a ridiculously tall, muscle-bound Major with very little blond hair walked out of the tent, eyes focused directly in front of him), Mustang stepped inside and snapped a salute to the sallow-faced man standing in front of him.
"Aah, Major Mustang. The Flame Alchemist, if I'm correct?"
"That's correct, Sir."
The man frowned, his narrow eyes forming a perfect glare.
"I must say I didn't appreciate being kept waiting, Mustang. We were getting quite worried for your safety and we don't like being held up. Understood?" Storch snapped, sounding much more vindictive than sympathetic.
"I apologize; I fell asleep on the train and no one alerted me of our arrival," Mustang lied.
"Very well, but make sure nothing of the sort happens again," Storch snarled whilst walking towards his desk, "Now, here are your files; your assigned Districts for elimination, the files on your subordinates..."
"Subordinates, Sir?" Roy questioned, the very thought of being responsible for another life unnerving him.
"Each State Alchemist gets two subordinates; one foot soldier and one sniper," the General droned, organizing the files into a neater state in their folder and walking over to hand them to Mustang, "The two of them should be here soon; they're out eliminating District Three with the Iron Blood Alchemist at the moment, but once they've returned they shall be officially reassigned to your command. And you should consider yourself lucky if they live for the entire time you are here."
"With all due respect, it seems quite unfair to judge human life so lowly," the Major muttered, knowing that it would probably annoy Storch but unable to hold himself against the man's utter disregard any longer.
"One State Alchemist can destroy an entire District in an hour. Normal soldiers could barely accomplish that in a week," the man snarled, "They are you backup and all the soldiers here know that the lives of State Alchemists take priority. When you hold a position of authority you may question the orders of the Fuhrer, but until then take your orders and do not challenge your superiors. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
At that moment, a blonde woman stepped into the tent and saluted; Mustang noticed that her right arm was heavily bandaged and that the blood seeping through the white cloth was definitely fresh.
"Second Lieutenant Hawkeye reporting, Sir. I apologize for my unpunctuality but I had to go to Med to get my injuries tended to. Warrant Officer Havoc will be arriving shortly."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Tell me, did Brigadier General Gran make it back to base?"
The Second Lieutenant's eyes hardened noticeably, but if Storch noticed the change then he made no sign that he had seen the sudden resolve in the woman's eyes.
"We ensured that the Brigadier General was protected and he was not injured in the crossfire, Sir."
"Excellent. Well, I must be going, I have business elsewhere to attend to and I have no doubt that the two of you would like to become better acquainted," Storch smirked, "Thank you for your time."
Both Mustang and Hawkeye saluted until the General left the tent, and then Hawkeye turned to Mustang.
"I apologize, Sir. I am Second Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye and I will be your Sniper."
Mustang was about to reply, but was swiftly interrupted by the arrival of his other new subordinate, Warrant Officer Havoc. He looked a little worse for wear than Hawkeye; his left leg was bandaged at the thigh, his right arm was bandaged at the wrist and he appeared to have a poorly stitched cut under his eye. Despite this, he was apparently healthy enough to smoke.
"Sorry, Sir," Havoc muttered, snapping a quick salute and then hurrying to stand beside Hawkeye, "I got a bit beat up back there."
"Perfectly understandable, Warrant Officer," Mustang resisted the urge to smirk at the way Hawkeye glared at the tall blond from the corner of her eye.
"Well, it'll be our job to throw ourselves in front of danger for you," Havoc scratched the back of his head and Mustang watched a large amount of sand fall out of his hair.
"I have a question for the two of you," Mustang stated, walking around the desk that Storch had occupied to sit on the uncomfortable wooden chair, "Have you ever killed a man?"
Hawkeye blinked, and then nodded. "I have... we both have. Many times."
"Fine. Now here's another one: have you ever taken the time to watch him die?"
Neither Havoc nor Hawkeye replied to that.
"I don't want you to consider me as something that has to be protected," Roy paused at their unrelenting shock, and then continued, "I doubt that you will be willing to protect me should I only consider my humans attached to guns, so I want you to go into battle trusting my judgment. I doubt that you will want to take a bullet for a man who takes no time to think of your health, so I want you to know that I will protect you if you protect me. The laws of alchemy are based on equivalent exchange, so I know that you will not respect me if I do not respect you in return."
He paused and once again received neither objection nor reply.
"In short, if you follow me I shall give you my trust, and in return I expect yours. So, will you provide me with your service?"
For a while both Havoc and Hawkeye seemed like they were frozen on the spot, but soon Hawkeye gave a small grin and saluted.
"You have my trust."
"Mine too, Chief," Havoc added, giving a lopsided grin which caused the ash at the end of his cigarette to crumble.
"Excellent," Mustang grinned and saluted, "And the both of you have mine."
Roy Mustang could never use two human beings as weapons, and he knew that he wouldn't make it anywhere without strong allies. Thus was the start of one of the strongest allegiances he could have ever hoped to earn.