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Antecedent (Solf J. Kimblee/OC)

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This one turned out waaaay more depressing than I meant for it to be.  Oh well, I hope you can forgive me and enjoy this oneshot anyway.

There was a leg swinging at the knee over the edge of the roof of a clay hut. The leg connected to a pelvis that connected to a torso that connected to a head that stared over nearly total destruction. Dust coated the sun burnt cheeks like blush—dust coated everything in Ishbal, and the soldiers there were no exception. When the young woman blinked, her lashes were the color of dust too as they cast long, dark shadows down her face in the glare of the setting sun. Her gray eyes flicked downward when her leg was suddenly stopped from swinging. Someone had their hand on her foot and was grinning up at her with a face that was more angular than hers but just as dusty.

“Are you Captain Ira Randall?” the man asked.

“What do you need me for?” Ira asked; her voice was equal parts boredom and presumptuousness, and she had not moved.

“Command wants to talk to you.” The man jerked his head towards the inside of the hut she had been assigned to stand lookout for, making his dark ponytail bounce, swing, and then settle. His perpetually snakelike expression changed to mild interest. “By the way, isn’t Ira a boy’s name?”

“What’s your name?”

“Kimblee.”

“Sounds like a girl’s name to me,” Ira stated brusquely, and went back to surveying the scarred landscape. Kimblee laughed. His hand was still on her foot, and it was starting to annoy her.

“That’s my last name,” he told her. “I’m Solf—Solf J. Kimblee. Need some help?” He extended a hand to her, exposing a circular tattoo on his palm to her sight. Instead of taking his hand, she stared at that for a few moments.

“You’re a state alchemist?”

He glanced at his hand and then chuckled with feigned sheepishness. “Ah, excuse me. I’m Major Solf J. Kimblee, the Red Lotus Alchemist. I like blowing things up. Nice to meet you.”

Ira regarded him doubtfully before taking his hand. “Captain Ira Randall. I like watching stuff blow up. Nice to meet you.”

That was how they met. It would be a severe exaggeration to say that they were inseparable after that, but Ira knew she would be lying if she said they didn’t get on well. There was something about his obvious untrustworthiness that drew her to him, and he seemed to like that she didn’t mince words or avert her eyes from destruction. On the other hand, they were too different to always be together; he was friendly and morbidly philosophical, and she was solitary and had learned long ago that over thinking things just irritated her. Their work kept them separate at times too, and she was grateful for those breaks.

They may have been friends, but she had heard the rumors, so it was an unpleasant surprise when she found out that she had been reassigned to his platoon. Fighting alongside him was a death sentence; then again, fighting anywhere in this hell-hole was a death sentence. She was cocky, but not so cocky she thought she could outrun death forever. But Kimblee—he was death. He wielded it, bathed in it, knew the danger of it and reveled in it. It was like he knew nothing of fear.

“Randall.”

Ira looked up from cleaning her rifle among the bustle of the camp to meet the languid gaze of the Red Lotus Alchemist. Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. Kimblee waved her over just as the bells clamored, indicating that the next shift was starting. Ira gripped her gun and wiped the sweat from her brow, marching after him onto the battlefield.

“Let’s get started,” Kimblee chimed, extracting a small something from his pocket. Ira felt as jittery as the soldiers around her, but she didn’t allow herself to show it as she watched Kimblee pop something red into his mouth, clap his hands together, and slap them against the dusty ground. Sparking, the ground buckled and erupted with thunder and screams. Ira had never seen something so beautiful. She had seen the results of his work, the craters and rubble and corpses, but watching him in action was so dark and living and purely destructive. Shaking with the rumbling ground that bucked beneath her feet, Ira felt the rush of adrenaline and the fear stalking up her spine, and she relished it like Kimblee relished death. She felt the fruits of his actions. She felt him. She felt.

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