Some days later, Lt. Colonel Roy Mustang and 2nd Lt. Riza Hawkeye arrive in Resembool on a tip regarding two talented alchemists who could be recruited for the State Alchemist program. However, when they explain to their guide their purpose in the small town, they are informed that the Elric brothers they seek are only children despite their great skill with the craft. Skeptical, but hopeful, Mustang ventures into the Elric family home, but is mortified by what he finds inside - a huge, complex Transmutation Circle in a room stained with blood. Per the guide's advice, Mustang and Hawkeye next seek the Elrics at the nearby home of the Rockbell family, forcing their way in and demanding that the boys show themselves. Looking around, Mustang finds his quarry - a young boy missing his left leg and right arm, sitting dejectedly in a wheelchair in front of a suit of armor. Roy demands angrily to know what the boy had done to create such a scene in his house, but to the Flame Alchemist's amazement, it is not the boy but the empty suit of armor that speaks, expressing remorse over their actions.
Roy spends the day explaining how a child with Edward's talent would be a valuable asset to the State Alchemist program and that the perks associated with a government license could conceivably lead them to a way to restore their bodies to normal. Hearing this, Pinako explains that, after the boys had arrived, mutilated, on her doorstep, she had gone over to the Elric house and buried their inhuman creation in the backyard. She asks Mustang if he would really persuade them to continue practicing in the field that gave birth to that monster and maimed them almost beyond recognition. Out in the sitting room, Winry greets Riza and asks the 2nd Lt. if she has ever shot anyone. When Hawkeye responds in the affirmative, Winry explains that she dislikes soldiers because they had taken her parents away to die on the battlefield and asks Riza not to take Ed and Al away to become soldiers. But as Riza explains to Winry and Roy to Pinako, a decision would not be forced on the boys, but that the opportunity to move forward is something that they would have to actively accept. Hawkeye explains to Winry that her reason for remaining in the military is to protect a very important someone. Having finished his spiel, Roy leaves his contact information and departs with Hawkeye, who bids a friendly farewell to the young girl, but as they head back out of town, Mustang rebuts Riza's assertion that Edward is beyond help by remarking that he had seen, behind the young boy's frailty, eyes that burned like fire.
Moved by the Lt. Colonel's words, Edward decides to have automail limbs installed and, while being prepped for surgery, asks Pinako how long until his recovery and rehabilitation period will be over. Despite her assertion that it would take three years, young Edward declares that he would complete it in only one. Before going under the knife, he promises Alphonse that they would have their bodies back soon and begs his little brother to be patient.
One year later, Edward completes his recovery and begins sparring with Alphonse to make sure his new limbs work properly. When adequately satisfied, he notes that, having refrained from using alchemy since the accident, he fears that his abilities may have diminished or disappeared, but clapping his hands together, transmutes the outer plating of the arm into a blade, much to Al's amazement and Winry's chagrin. Al asks Edward how he became capable of transmuting without a circle like their teacher, but Edward comments that, since Al had seen "that thing", he should be able as well. However, Alphonse remarks that he knows not of what "thing" his brother speaks.
Shortly afterward, Edward departs alone for East City to meet Roy Mustang - who has been promoted to Colonel in the past year - and they venture to Central City to have Edward take the State Alchemy exam. In Central, word has gotten out about the twelve-year-old State Alchemist candidate and Führer King Bradley decides to attend the boy's practical examination personally. As Bradley arrives amid noticeable pomp, Edward appears disconcerted to discover that the nation's leader is so nearby. The test begins and, when asked whether he requires materials for constructing a Transmutation Circle, Edward replies that he has no need of such things. A twinge of concern flashes across Bradley's face as Ed claps his hands together and presses them to the ground, effortlessly transmuting an ornate lance from the floor. Immediately, however, Edward turns the lance and charges decidedly at the Führer. Several officers jump in shock as soldiers on the floor draw their firearms and train them on Edward's head, but not before the boy willingly stops the point of his weapon just short of Bradley's throat. The Führer waves his bodyguards away as Edward remarks that a real assassin would have succeeded just then and suggests that Führer Bradley take more stringent precautions when appearing in public. Though the Führer takes the boy's advice with good humor, the incensed exam proctor declares angrily that Edward has just cost himself the test. However, Bradley interjects, remarking that the choice ultimately lies with he himself. Stating that Edward's written exam and psychological evaluation were deemed adequate in addition to his obviously superb practical skills, Bradley points out that the boy has a lot of guts and is simply inexperienced with the ways of the world. As Bradley bids the boy farewell and gleefully strolls away, the blade of the lance clatters to the ground as if severed and Ed realizes with a start that Bradley has been holding a sword for the past several moments, but doesn't remember seeing him unsheathe it.
Escorted away by Mustang and Hawkeye afterward, Edward remarks that the Colonel was the only officer who didn't appear alarmed. Roy frankly responds that, if Ed had murdered Bradley there, Mustang's own bid for the position of Führer would have one less obstacle. Edward remarks that he could very easily use this information against the Colonel, but Roy counters that he, too, holds information hostage as the Human Transmutation that Ed and Al committed was against the law. Should their true story get out, not only would Ed's license be immediately revoked, but his brother might even be carted off to a laboratory for study. As Ed returns to East City for the week to await his results, Bradley pushes the boy's certification through, remarking to his advisers that the boy's talent is remarkable and that the best course of action would be to fasten him to the military before some other organization gets ahold of him. When asked if he has decided on an honorary title for Edward, the Führer responds in the affirmative, though he remarks that his choice may seem initially imposing.
At the end of the week, Ed's results come in and he is summoned to Colonel Mustang's office, where his certificate and pocketwatch have come in. Informing Edward that each State Alchemist is given a symbolic second name by the Führer, the Colonel hands him the paper, whereupon the boy reads that his chosen codename is to be "Fullmetal Alchemist". Pleased, Edward accepts it willingly.
In Resembool that night, Edward stands, torch in hand, before the Elric house with Alphonse, Winry and Pinako as the house burns down. As Ed remarks that there is no turning back now, Winry begins to cry.
- In this chapter it is revealed that Edward's official story regarding his automail limbs is that they are a result of the Ishvalan train bombing in Resembool during the Ishval Civil War.
- In this chapter, it can be observed that Riza has begun the practice of growing out her hair, but that it hasn't yet breached shoulder-length.
- This chapter introduces us to the three laws of State Alchemy: "Do not create gold, do not create humans and swear loyalty to the military government."
- Later clues place the chapter's final two scenes on October 3, 1911.