He died slowly.
He died painfully.
He died alone.
Ludwig Eberhart's body was found mere hours after he was shot. An ambulance was called. He was pronounced dead on the scene, tossed aside like trash between the overturned garbage cans. Police were called. None came. Soon, people came to move his corpse. Faceless entities that were mere puppets, controlled by those who wore crowns. The ones who saw the deep crimson pools that reflected light like rusted copper ignored it. The ones who knew what happened falsified surprise and grief and made it into an art.
All too quietly, Ludwig was tossed into the back of the ambulance as if a broken toy that was to be taken to the secondhand store. Blank blue eyes stared upwards, as if the barrel of the gun was still hanging in front of him. The blood had stopped flowing from the wound in his chest, yet the clean metal floor was still stained and marred by the rented flesh, which already had begun its slow decomposition. As the door was closed and the ambulance took off, the sounds of the night continued on, undisturbed. And on a nearby roof, a man with wavy brown hair and cold, cruel green eyes cleaned his glock - spending special attention to the carving of the word SAINT in it - with a predatory grace.
No one attended his funeral. His death was kept silent. The casket was of poor quality, and a bit too small from his frame. A tiny bit of federal land had been set aside for those without families who had nowhere they could be buried. Ludwig was lowered six feet under, offhandedly wished a good afterlife, and then covered by dirt. Unceremoniously, the priest walked away, snapping his worn bible shut.
Isaac looked over his paper, happening by the obituaries by mistake, really. If the name hadn't been so foreign, he may have missed it all together.
"Huh..." he mumbled to himself. "Wiggy is... dead?"
A small pit gathered in the bottom of his stomach and he folded his newspaper shut. He was dead. Isaac had trouble wrapping his mind around it. He was ecstatic; he was crushed. He wanted to jump up and dance; he wanted to give the fallen detective a moment of silence. Rubbing his forehead, the candyman opened the paper once more.
"Gunshot to the chest... dead... for a week? Buried..." Nodding to himself, Isaac quickly finished up his breakfast and stood. Kissing Sarah goodbye, he headed out his apartment.
It was a longer walk than he had expected. When he pushed on the gate, it created and groaned, resisting his touch. Once inside, he walked among the silent tombstones, muttering names and dates to himself.
Finally, he found the grave. Wouldn't the more recent deaths be up front? Ludwig was all the way in the back, buried with the weathered stones and tall weeds. But he was here.
Isaac blinked at the gravestone. "Aw, Wiggy. I can't believe you're dead. Who's gonna chase me around, now? No one, that's who. They aren't smart enough to find me. They'll never catch my trail like you did." He sighed. "Remember the time we spent together in the hospital? Good times, right? Yeah, they were. Gotta say, your temper is something I wouldn't want to be at the receiving end of again." His fingers touched his throat delicately as he recalled the way Ludwig almost strangled him when the German awoke from his coma and saw his murder suspect watching over his body like a vulture. "Ahh... I don't even know if you were right about me... I still wake up with those bruises. And people still have to die." A pause. "I'm sorry that we didn't have a chance to become friends. I think we would have enjoyed drinking together. Here." After wiping a traitorous tear from his cheek, Isaac pulled a bottle of beer from his apron pocket. He had seen Ludwig drink this kind before and knew it was the right thing for him. Popping open the cork, he held it upside down, and watched the expensive alcohol run over the tombstone.
Then, giving a mocking salute, he whispered, "Farewell, mein Feind." Turning on his heel, he left the gravesite behind him.
-Three weeks later-
An incoming ship. The horn blared and the docks were cleared. People scattered about like bugs, preparing ropes and hooks. With quick efficiency, they dragged the boat in and secured it to the shore. Rushing forward, Cody extended the platform, the last step in connecting boat to docks. "All right!" He yelled. "It's secure!" Dashing up with the rest of the Blades, they headed into rooms and the cargo bay, working swiftly to unload everything.
Only one thing seemed out of place. A boy stood off to the side. Straight backed, straight legged, as if wires were keeping him so rigid. Icy blue eyes took in everything. The pristine boots and bright green pants only furthered Cody's suspicions about the boy.
"Hey, man," the Blade called out, approaching the smaller child. "You need something here?"
The boy looked up at Cody, a strange look on his face. Then, shaking his head, he turned on his heel and walked briskly from the ship and onto land.
A quick walk around town. A stop to the graveyard. Then, off again, through the safe zone and into the Feral territory. The boy read from a piece of paper, and glanced up, catching the address of an apartment. Heading inside, he took the steps two at a time to the top and, pulling a key from his pocket, opened a door and headed inside.
It had been recently cleaned and empty. No furniture was in any of the rooms. It was as if this place had always been empty. The boy opened a closet and looked inside. Tapping the wall, and then the floor, he found a trapdoor. Slowly, he pulled up a loose board and found what he was looking for. As he retrieved the box, the list continued to run through his head. "Isabella. Jamie. Cody. Nate." Friends. Details on the friends followed. Gang affiliation. Physical details. Place of residence. And the name that burned rage deep in him, red hot, yet cold as ice in his collected demeanor. "Michael." Enemy. Murderer. Ludwig's murderer.
In the box, the boy found a ring. A rather large ring, it held a green jewel, encrusted with a crest of a boar rearing its head, attacking with its tusks. Pulling out a necklace with dogtags, he slipped it on the chain and replaced it under his black tanktop. Finished with his business, the boy stood, left the building, and headed deeper into Feral territory.
"And then," Mel said, brushing a loose bit of bangs from her face, "he has the gall to call me his sweetheart."
"Oh, gross," Jamie answered. She shifted on the boxes in front of the Feral base. The two girls gossiped and talked, much to the dismay of Beast and Reginald, who were sitting nearby, splitting a ridiculous pile of chili dogs. "What happened next?" Jamie pestered.
"What do you think? I slid up next to him, told him how cute he was, and then I clocked him in the jaw and stole his wallet. And his pocket watch." Holding up a gold watch on a silver chain, Mel swung it back and forth. "This will pay for groceries for about a day, given your boyfriend's eating habits."
Reginald glanced upwards at the mention of being a boyfriend. "Huh?" He asked through a mouthful of chilidog. The girls merely laughed and Mel tucked the watch back into her pocket.
"I can't help it," Reginald said. "I get hungry. And these chili dogs are really good."
"Damn straight," Beast answered, taking another bite from his own chilidog. Then he belched loudly, and sighed.
Soon, however, their peace was interrupted. The group looked up, and spotted the boy. Immediately, Beast was on his feet, fist up. Mel and Jamie leapt down from the boxes as well. The one who stood before him was not a Feral.
"Hey!" Beast called out, reaching down to grab his weapon - a giant wrench that was about half his height. "What are you doing here? How'd you get past the patrols?!"
The boy looked behind him before turning back to answer Beast. "Patrolz? Zose vere.... trained guardz?" His voice was thick with a German accent and from the puzzled way he regarded Beast, it seemed that his English was not at its best. "Ich looking for ein person. Jemand mit dem Namen... Jamie."
The small Feral girl jolted at her name, the only thing she caught from that sentence. "Who's asking?!" She growled as Reginald slowly rose from his wheelchair to stand in front of her.
"Mein Namen ist Ludwig Eberhart Junior," was the answer.