My name is Maes Hughes.
I was born in a little village, near the capital; I still remember the name, although it’s been a long time and I was young back then, just a little child. And I remember the scents and the colors; all the flame red flowers and the glittering sand, the emerald green of the leaves.
I can still see the little cousin when I close my eyes; a small but strong, messy, loud child, two years younger than me. We played a lot together; and I still remember the small, black dog we both loved so much.
Then, we moved and the village, the little cousin and the black dog disappeared along with the colors and scents; the grey emptiness of the city clouded everything and I, the too tall, too thin boy with glasses sat in the corner of the yard, all alone and afraid.
I hated it. I wanted to go home.
But then, on a grey day, I heard footsteps on the stone pavement and when I looked up, I saw another child. He was smaller than me, black-haired, dark-eyed; and he had a ball in his hands.
“Wanna play?” he asked, offering the toy to me.
From that day, we were friends. He lived on the same floor as me; we played together every day, laughing, running wildly, and embracing the world with such passion only children are capable of. His name was Roy, Roy Mustang and it suited him perfectly. He was elegant and untamed; I adored him although he was one year younger. Later, we went to the same school and learned the same things. And we both began to see the world as it was, not as we imagined it is.
The government was a strict one; the leaders banned religion that time and many, who didn’t want to give up their beliefs, were arrested, killed, or sent to labor camps. Frightening stories went round about how the soldiers and policemen treat the prisoners in the secret headquarters. They never looked if the religious one was a man, a woman or a mere child; they had the power, they had the firearms, they had the right to shoot. And they never hesitated.
The Reign of Terror – we heard the timidly whispered words from the grown-ups. Neither of our families were religious but our parents saw what happened and they didn’t like it. And we, the passionate children thought, the government is something evil, like the dragon in the old tales and the world is waiting for a knight, to get rid of the beast. And when on a day, green-clad policemen came and took the neighbor girl and her family away, because they secretly prayed to God, Roy and I decided that we’ll be knights.
Children can love with all their hearts, undoubtedly, deeply; and they’re capable to feel such hate, which combined with power would sweep away the strongest walls. And we both hated the government with all our young hearts. As we grew up and our horizon broadened by the news, books and friends, we could clearly see how wrong this order is. We were determined; and we used all means to reach our goals.
We turned old enough to attend a university and we choose carefully: I began to study social science and history, while Roy, the strong, lean, fiery one got admitted into a military academy.
Life on the university is much fun; we had time to go to pubs, watch movies, sometime to chase girls and such. We both loved to study too; we dreamed of a revolution. We had friends too, aside of each other; Roy got befriended with a handsome, blond guy named John Havoc and I had a senior friend, Watteau Farman.
On a quiet late spring evening, we went to our favorite bar again. Just when we wanted to enter, a young, lean guy stormed out, knocking Roy off of his feet. My friend was quick to anger when he had been drinking and he already drank some; so he jumped up, grabbed the lad’s long ponytail and in the next second, they were rolling on the ground, trying to beat each other senseless.
I stood aside and watched them with a smile. Soon enough, a slender, pale young man stepped next to me.
“Is that your friend?”
“Got a problem with that?” I glanced up on him. I was a fairly good fighter myself so I was ready to defend Roy if needed.
However, the pale youth just smiled. “Not the slightest. I’m the guardian of that brat, who tries to maim him. My name is Frank Archer. Nice to meet you.”
I laughed and shook his hand.
Some ten minutes later, when we noticed the sirens in the distance, Frank and I took our friends and dragged them away into safety. Just now, when I had the time to observe his companion, did I realize, that the young, long-haired lad looks awfully familiar…
“Don’t call me like that, I hate that name!” the guy shouted at me then he stopped. “Maes? Is that you??”
And we embraced each other, laughing like crazy and we explained to Roy and Frank, that we’re cousins.
We sat down to talk in some other pub and it turned out, that they are about to move, closer to the city center. In the house Roy and I lived, there were a few flats for rent, so we promised them to get those. I was happy to see my little cousin and Frank proved to be a charming, educated gentleman too. He studied law and economy, while Zolf – my cousin – who was always interested in cars and motorcycles, turned to mechanics. On top of all that, they shared the same dreams like we did.
And our dreams seemed to slowly become alive; there were rumors about a revolution and we eagerly joined any club, where we could discuss the future. We became quite famous among our own people; they admired Roy and Zolf’s strength and leadership skills and Frank’s and my knowledge and clear thinking. And when Fuhrer Bradley came and the streets were filled with tanks, armed trucks and young soldiers, we were there in the front line.
Those were the days of the half-year long civil war, which crushed the previous government, opened the labor camps’ doors to free the prisoners and taught us to kill. We got the firearms this time and we never hesitated to use them. We wanted to defeat the dragon, wanted to pay back and we never had any regrets. We became the knights in shining armor.
After that half a year, the new government stood tall and proud over the ruins of the previous one. We four – even Zolf had the degree that time – joined the military too. Roy became a field officer, a young and cruel lieutenant, who soon got promoted to major. Zolf managed to get the sergeant rank and he was a driver and the best car mechanic, who took care of the general staff’s vehicles. Frank, with his clear mind became a very good lawyer and executive; nobody was able to stand his icy gaze for long. And I, with my natural instincts and good observation skills was taken into the secret agency.
This is where our story begins.