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Tue, Dec. 9th, 2003, 01:38 am
wetheril: Lua Vermelha Chapter 1 Part 1

Lua Vermelha

Lt. Colonel Roy is on duty, and his day starts like any other day. He is about to leave for lunch break when he receives a call from Lt. Lisa Hawkeye about the arrival of a mysterious package--mailed to him. As he's studying the contents of the package, something unusual happens...

Roy stood up and unlatched the window behind him, throwing out the shutters and sliding apart the panes of glass, letting in a chill spring breeze that carried with it a faint tinge of engine smoke. He glanced outside and watched young children playing in a plaza near the station for a brief moment before finally turning away to sit back at his desk, vaguely longing to be outside himself. The last time he actually went outside the station around this time was two weeks ago--and that was also on duty.

But that world was not his; his world was here, within the East Station Headquarters in an office and a study full of books--a world with other elite members of the military whom respected his skills in alchemy; yet it was also a world governed by lectures, meetings, and reports with superior officers. He glanced at the stack of papers on his desk that needed signatures, then looked at his watch. There was about half an hour before lunch. Maybe he should finish this stack of documents. As he picked up the top sheet and began to examine the fine print, the ringing of his desk phone interrupted shrilly. Suppressing an irritated sigh, he picked up the receiver.

"East Headquarters. Who is this speaking?"

"Is it you Roy? Lt. Colonel?"

Roy frowned as he heard the voice on the other end, debating whether he should offer an affirmative.

"What do you want?"

"Roy! This is Hughes!"

"I know it's you, Major. What do you want?"

"Say...like next week, my wife and I are going to hold an engagement anniversary. We wanted to invite all my colleagues you know..."

The frown on Roy's face deepened and his dark eyes narrowed.

"Haven't you mentioned that already, about four times this morning?"

"Yes, but you weren't in three of those times and so I just called back to check in."

"Major, are you reporting from duty?"

"Well...you see...I just got off my shift. Say? Will you be coming? You haven't met my daughter yet have you? She just learned to talk!! She is the most adorable thing in the world you'll absolutely regret not going--"

"Major. Isn't your shift ending at 12:00? On my watch, there are still 20 minutes."

"Yeah, but like, the guys finished early and went to lunch. So what do you say? It's next weekend, you'll be missing out--"

CLICK. Roy hung up the phone, snorting slightly in disgust. That was probably the fifth time Hughes had called him this morning to invite him to his wedding anniversary and gush about his daughter. He took a second look at his watch, and realized that he had wasted another 5 minutes, and now it was nearly 15 minutes till noon. Maybe he should save these papers after lunch. Just as he stood up to leave, the phone rang again. He picked it up again, carefully keeping his voice even as not to betray his irritation.

"East Headquarters. Speaking?"

"Lt. Colonel Mustang! A parcel that arrived this morning has passed security check."

The voice on the other end, without a doubt, belonged to Lieutenant Hawkeye. Roy's eyes briefly widened, but then he resumed his usual calm expression.

"Check the sender, Lieutenant."

"Yes sir. The sender is anonymous, but it was shipped out last night from an old excavation site about 150 miles south--the site of some old ruins. Supposedly somebody in the department sent for the contents of this package to arrive ten minutes to noon at East Station."

Somebody in the department? Roy was puzzled--who could have sent for some artifacts to be shipped to East Station, unless the contents were related to alchemy, and the receiver was an alchemist? Roy connected back on the line.

"Location status report?"

"I'm at the security gate right now. It is on the way to your office."

"WHAT!?" Roy nearly jumped out of chair and knocked over the stack of papers.

The short click sounded followed by the dial tone. Roy slowly lowered the receiver from his ear and hung up. Before he had time to reorganize the papers on his desk, a brisk knocking sounded at his door.

"Come in."

The doors flew open, and Lieutenant Hawkeye marched in with a clipboard in her arms, while a security guard followed closely behind with an unsually long box about a foot wide.

"It was scheduled to arrive at your office 15 minutes till noon," Hawkeye reported curtly, then held the clipboard out toward Roy for the delivery signature.

"Excuse me, but I never requested this."

"Sir," Hawkeye continued, "It was marked for delivery to your office. Will you please sign?"

Roy snatched the clipboard from his first lieutenant and signed swiftly. He nearly threw the clipboard back at her. She rewarded him briefly with a disgusted frown, but quickly composed her face as the security check took the clipboard from her after leaving the package on Roy's desk. The security turned to leave the room. Roy waved impatiently for his first lieutenant to leave as well. She obeyed, but not without fixing him with an icy stare.

Once they left him in peace, he turned to the package. Who had ordered it sent to his office? Who would do such a thing? He ran through possible names of commanding officers who were also alchemists, but then decided to check the contents of the box.

Peeling away the masking tape, Roy uncovered a smaller thinner box within made of wood. Nails tightly held shut the sides of the box. Not wanting to remove the nails that held the box together, Roy carefully fingered the side of the box until he found the wooden hinge. It was as he suspected with a hand-crafted box--the hinge was made by sliding two woodcuts of complementary shapes together and wedged with a thinner slab of wood. Sliding out the wedge and then shifting apart the hinge, the top side of the box came off to reveal what appeared to be a staff.

Roy carefully lifted the artifact from the cushioning as sunlight fell on one end of the shaft, slowly illuminating the panels that seemed to form a pyramid with colors shifting and scintillating from the three faces that formed the top of the sceptor. The tip of the staff was capped with a triangular gem--probably of a pure quartz or a more precious gemstone while the intricatedly carved handle gleamed dimly, remnicent of a dense ancient alloy, revealing strange words carved upon its weathered surface. His eyes gravitated towards the strange characters, wondering if they had any alchemical significance. He had evidently studied this for some time before he was suddenly aware the room seemed a little brighter, a little larger.

The illuminaton upon the staff seemed unnaturally bright, and he almost had to sheild his eyes. What was this? Without, thinking he glanced at his watch, and noticed that it was almost noon. Suddenly, a bright flash pulsed from within the gem, reflecting off the panels and blinded him. Roy jumped back, dropping the staff, but it was too late--as an intense golden light filled his vision and engulfed the entire room.