Title: Cryptic
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Havoc, Breda, Alphonse.
Setting: General.
Summary: Secret codes are kind of a big thing with alchemists.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word “Messenger” at Fan Flashworks, with inspiration from the challenge’s discussion thread.

 

Cryptic

 

On a very normal afternoon at Eastern Command, Lieutenants Havoc and Breda had lunch together, as usual.

As they also often did, they chose to take their meal and conversation from the busy, noisy mess hall to the more private environs of the senior-staff wardroom. However, on this particular day, they found that someone else had been there very recently. Next to a still-hot cup of tea, a leatherbound journal sat open on the table; and tucked halfway beneath the edge of the book, there lay a handwritten note that was clearly meant to be seen.

“Whatta we got here?” mused Breda, setting down his food to sidle over and examine the apparent scene of hastily-abandoned studies.

“Don’t know.” Havoc stared at the journal. “…But that’s not a bloodstain on the corner of that book, is it?”

“Looks like.” Breda grimaced at the traces of scarlet that tinged the edge of the pages, leaning down to squint at words scrawled in a heavy hand. “It’s some kinda record of a construction job or something? There’s a lotta notes about different amounts of granite and limestone, stuff like that. What’s the note say?” he asked, turning to Havoc, who had picked up the accompanying piece of paper.

Havoc read a few lines aloud. “Flyout to right field, line drive to third, two-base hit to center field… Looks like it’s just a list of the plays in a baseball game.” He held the note up for Breda to see.

“Huh. …Wait a sec, is that Fullmetal’s writing?”

Blinking, Havoc turned the note around to examine it more closely. “I don’t… No, hey, you’re right. He usually writes with his automail, but I think this is the handwriting from his left hand.”

“So weird.”

“Yeah. Although I guess it is kind of awesome that he can write with either one.”

“I didn’t even know the Elrics were back in East City. Wonder why Ed was transcribing a game. And what he was doing with somebody’s book about a construction job… and why there’s blood on it.”

“I’m pretty sure I don’t wanna know that last one.”

“…Good point.”

Dismissing their curiosity for the moment, the two men moved to the other end of the table to eat their lunch; but neither had taken a bite before the door opened. The huge armor-shelled form of Alphonse Elric lumbered into the room, carrying a brown paper bag.

“Okay, Brother, here’s the sandwich you—huh?” Al halted as he registered that Edward was absent, and the room was now occupied by two soldiers instead. “Oh, hello, Lieutenants. …Do you know where my brother went?”

“Sorry. He was gone when we came in just a minute ago,” Breda supplied.

Al’s helmet turned, taking in the objects Ed had left behind. He saw the note Havoc had set back in place beside the book, and reached out to pick it up.

For only a few seconds, his invisible gaze passed over the litany of baseball plays scrawled on the paper… and then it slipped from his fingers to the floor, as he let out a horrified gasp.

“Oh, no… We have to talk to Colonel Mustang right now! Brother’s about to get himself in trouble!”

“How’d you get that from a play-by-play of a ball game?” asked Havoc in bafflement, rising quickly to follow the alarmed metal boy.

“It’s a code. Lots of alchemists use secret codes to hide what they write as something else—and that’s one of ours.” Al about-faced his hulking frame and bolted for the door, taking it for granted that the men would follow. “That journal he was reading is coded the same way. His note told me he figured it out, and he read that the separatist alchemists we took it from are going to blow up the military’s chemical warehouse on the edge of town in an hour.—And that idiot didn’t even wait for me or tell Colonel Mustang before he went off to try to stop them—even though the damage they did to his automail yesterday still isn’t fixed!”

Well, that explained a lot. Right down to the reason why Ed had apparently written the coded note with his left hand.

Still pelting down the hallway behind Alphonse, Breda exchanged a longsuffering glance with Havoc.

“…So I guess we’re gonna go fight separatists now.”

“Yup.”


© 2017 Jordanna Morgan