Undead appeared after a particularly powerful Old Lord was slain in battle and the gift of life and resurrection was given to the people on the battlefield, slain and destroyed. Their essences flew back to them, and consciousness restored. It’s harder for an undead to be created from a fleshy body, just because the body is fighting it’s soul coming back in. Rotted/mummified bodies are much easier to resurrect. Also, souls can return to a body and have the body added to by other corpses without souls, and be modified, armored, and experimented on with relative ease. Thus, undead can grow to enormous sizes. Undead can also smell when death draws near, and some civilizations/communities use undead as hounds to sniff out the survivors of battles.
Undead culture is heavily based off of ways to keep busy. With time being a relatively un-important concept, being occupied and for one’s efforts to not go to waste are most important.
Undead, or “second-timers” as some refer to them, obsessively collect things; henceforth, they’re unburdened by fashion fads and the popularities of time period. They will often layer many sets of clothing scavenged from battlefields, as they are want to do. Undead find solace in welcoming new bodies to the afterlife.
This particular individual is what’s known as a “Reaver”, one who (usually) harmlessly picks through the spoils of war and battle for hidden riches that even corpsmen won’t touch.
I’m going to ask something very difficult of you, Captain.
That’s how she was after an officer from Aerugo who was secretly working with the Ishvalan separatists. They had gotten orders from Central to handle this with maximum discretion. Which Roy had interpreted as, take him out as quickly as possible. Since Aerugo denied all current involvement with Ishval, they wouldn’t be able to explain such a case to the public.
That’s how Riza was in Ishval with her rifle once more.
Roy’s plan involved her, Breda, Fuery… and Scar of all people. Scar, everyone suspected, dreamed of an independent Ishval free from Amestrian rule just as much as any of the separatists. But Scar, Riza was almost certain, despised the separatists more than anyone. Creating tension, perpetuating prejudices, pushing for war. Hatred leading to hatred. Roy had thought the same, and their suspicions were confirmed when Scar begrudgingly agreed to be part of the mission. Scar became the spy they didn’t ask for, and it said a great deal about his reputation that the separatist leaders weren’t suspicious.
That’s how Scar was asked to cite the target in a designated spot during the night, to supposedly discuss his knowledge of Major Miles’s activities. The area was clear; Riza and Breda had scanned it hours earlier. She’d been keeping watch ever since, so unless they’d missed anything, the foreigner didn’t suspect anything.
Not a defenseless civilian, Riza reminded herself. My target is a spy from a different country, seeking to destroy our own from the inside.
“I cannot complain,” she said. “I was expecting it to be crowded, but it looks we’re going to be alone.”
“I could come over and keep you company.”
“Feeling lonely, Roy?” It was easy to be playful, when he was such an excellent lead. “I can assure that having me on the phone will do well enough for company.”
That’s how they’d ended up connected to the civilian grid, which had taken three years and a massive effort to build. The line, still new in Ishval, rarely worked properly and it was being used mostly within the military. Fuery could even work it to their advantage, making the call nearly impossible to trace. It was more than enough. It was, in fact, still too dangerous. But Roy, feeling so inadequate, so dejected back in East City, had insisted on installing a line. At first Riza protested, but she had to admit that their banter was helping her concentrate.
“You can say you miss me, Elizabeth. It’s fine.” That was no lie.
“Wishful thinking, Roy Mustang. It suits you.”
“Well, a man can dream.”
Before she could think of an answer, a figure approached the meeting point from her right. Riza looked through the scope, but the insufficient light didn’t give her any useful information.
“Wait a minute, we have a customer. I think I know him. Kate, what do you think?”
Fuery, behind her with the equipment, spoke on a different line.
“Do we know this guy?”
Riza kept her eyes on the figure that approached Scar in the darkness, then looked through the scope as he slowed down. She had a clear shot, but she needed to wait for Breda’s confirmation as he carefully watched from a closer spot.
“It’s him,” Fuery told her.
“It’s him,” she repeated, then hesitated. Roy had planned carefully, down to the last detail, yet he hadn’t thought of giving Scar a codename. “Our new girl is greeting him.”
“Your new girl?”
“You’ve met her. Fairly pleasant. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Fuery snickered quietly, and then Roy’s ringing laughter soothing her enough to dispel all the tension she had accumulated in the last few minutes.
That’s how she got the trust she was missing, that trust that always faltered, but never proved wrong.
“I must go greet him properly. It shouldn’t take long.”
“Ah, Elizabeth. Always giving such good service to those who deserve it. I’m proud of you.”
Warmth settled in her chest. Roy was not only reminding her of the righteousness of their mission, but acknowledging the fact that this wasn’t easy for her.
Thank you, sir.
“You’re speaking nonsense, Roy Mustang,” she said. “Have you been drinking again?”
“Again? Why, Elizabeth, I’m offen—”
The call fell. Fuery let out an exasperated sigh. She imitated him, more calmly. Breathe in, then out, holding that position as she made sure that the forehead of the target was right in the middle of her scope. That Scar couldn’t possibly get hurt.
And then, she pulled the trigger. The sound spread and echoed along the deserted streets. Her chest hurt. Blood splashed out as the target stumbled. Then he fell. Riza closed her eyes. Yet another life taken by her hand. Another corpse without a tombstone. Another soul waiting for her in hell.
This is the enemy. This is what I’m here to do.
“I can’t get us back on. I fear we could’ve been intercepted,” Fuery informed her. “You got him, didn’t you?”
“I did.” And this meant they needed to leave. She remembered now, she had strict orders not to worry about the target. Leave it to Breda, now she should help Fuery dismantle the equipment. She ignored her rapid heartbeat, the breaking sweat, the inclement weather finally taking a toll on her senses. “We should go. We can communicate later as we-”
“Elizabeth!” The voice in her ear startled her. “Elizabeth, can you hear me? Please—”
The memories that crept up weren’t those from the Civil War, but memories of Roy blowing his cover so he could make sure he was safe. Roy’s anguished expression when she’d been bleeding out in front of him. Riza had sculpted it in every corner of her mind when she’d believed it to be the last thing she’d ever see. And it haunted her in dreams, it haunted her when sadness caught her off guard.
It was everywhere now. And Riza felt his fear, deep, devastating, as she knew he was feeling it. This was difficult for her, being back in the battlefield that had seen her become a murderer. But it was just as difficult for Roy, having her on the field when he was miles away. He knew this mission was of relative low risk. No one was after them; they were too many steps ahead from the enemy. And he still feared. He still grieved.
“I can hear you. I’m sorry. We’re having some issues with the line as of late.”
“Right.” Roy sounded defeated. “I knew that. I’m sorry.”
“Ah, I was too distracted by our customer to notice either way. I did an excellent job, if I say so myself. But it’s closing time now, so I believe I should go.”
“Well, Elizabeth, I can tell you’re in a hurry. Have a good night.”
Oh, if only she could reassure him, time and time again, that everyone was safe, that the mission had gone without a hitch and they should be back in East City by morning. If only he could acknowledge her state of mind, that he could remind her it was over, and she was doing this for the greater good.
“Thanks for keeping me company,” was all she could muster.
She signaled Fuery to end the conversation he’d pretended not to hear. Fuery, with those big eyes behind round glasses, eyes that asked questions he was too polite to speak aloud. But Riza had no time to lose, no time to worry about discretion. It was over. East City, home, Roy waited for them.