In East Area HQ, 2nd Lt. Jean Havoc begins a casual conversation with his comrades by asking whether Colonel Mustang or Edward Elric is a better fighter. While Master Sergeant Fuery is quick to cast his vote in Mustang's favor, Warrant Officer Falman reminds him that the Fullmetal Alchemist is an expert at melee combat and has alchemical skills second to none. From this simple exchange, discussions regarding the Flame Alchemist's strength versus Fullmetal's begin raging around headquarters, however Roy takes little notice, citing the disadvantage of Edward's age as reason enough not to give the matter any thought. But when he adds that Fullmetal's constant travel would make it too difficult to get ahold of him for the purposes of scheduling an exhibition, things begin to fall into place. Lt. Riza Hawkeye informs the Colonel that Edward is indeed in East City for his yearly State Alchemist certification assessment and has already announced his interest in battling his hated superior. Roy counters by arguing that a battle between two "Human Weapons" would cause significant damage to the town, but Lt. Colonel Maes Hughes negotiates the use of the military parade grounds for the event. And when the Flame Alchemist declares that King Bradley would never allow them an exhibition match, he promptly receives an okay from the Führer himself.

The battle is brokered and amidst jeers from the crowd of spectating soldiers, Flame and Fullmetal prepare for combat. Edward is eager to vent his frustrations with Roy physically, but when the signal is given to start, it is apparent that Mustang's Flame Alchemy gives him an immediate upper hand. Reciting strategic idioms such as "a soldier who strikes fast, strikes first" and "an angry soldier fights blind", Roy covers the field in flames and manages to taunt Edward into dropping his guard, but when Edward creates a decoy and manages to get close enough to destroy Roy's ignition cloth glove, effectively disabling his Flame Alchemy, Roy reveals that he (literally) has yet another trick up his sleeve. Quoting "a soldier should keep deception in his arsenal", the Flame Alchemist draws his left hand from his pocket, revealing that he has yet another ignition cloth glove. With a huge, final blast, Edward is soundly defeated. But as King Bradley congratulates Colonel Mustang on a job well done, he commands all the soldiers present to assist in the sanitation and repair of the completely destroyed parade grounds. But while the cleanup begins and Mustang laments the cruel turn of events, 2nd Lt. Havoc notes Hughes' absence. Meanwhile, Major Alex Louis Armstrong appears in the break room surprised to find Maes drinking coffee casually despite the Führer's order. In response, Hughes quotes his own strategic idiom - "a soldier should know when to retreat."

Chapter Notes

  • Due to the fact that Edward is in East City for his annual assessment (while the series has him undergoing yet another in Chapter 26) and Hughes' announcement before the fight that it is Elicia's second birthday, it can be determined that the events of this chapter take place in 1913, roughly one year before the start of the series.
  • This Bonus Chapter marks the earliest unofficial appearance of Führer King Bradley, having been published before his first official appearance in Chapter 15.

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