It was another ordinary day in the Jaeger household somewhere in the depths of Tokyo, a family of three pure-blooded Germans with a biracial Eurasian sat down in the dining room, having a casual breakfast. Eren Jaeger sat down beside his mother, across from Mikasa who was seated down beside their calm father. They might’ve been that stereotypical family of four if it wasn’t for the ruckus oh so early in the morning.
“Eren, can’t you care more? I believe it’s going to be the third time this week that you’re going to get late!” Karla, the nurturing mother of the family, exclaimed. She didn’t seem mad at the green-eyed monster that she was referring to, Eren, but it was evident that she was rather disappointed about her son’s current state somewhere in his educational field.
Eren slumped back on his chair and took a mouthful of his bread, his reply to her open statement, muffled.
Karla stood up; putting both her hands on her hips, shifted her weight to the other side and took her already clean plate to the sink to be washed. “What was that, dear? I believe we don’t talk with our mouth full.” With that, Eren started chewing faster, and even louder. The raven-haired girl just stared at him, playing with her chopsticks that carried some rice, making a snappy sound. “Mom, I said…It’s only Wednesday!”
Letting the water run down to the sink, practically wasting it, Karla let go of her dish and disregarded her soapy hands, turning back to Eren to make a comeback. “That’s the point. It’s Wednesday!” She stated. “Don’t tell me you’re planning to be late for a week again.”
As carefree as the green-eyed boy was, he never did mind it. He was just looking at the newspaper as he and Mikasa basked in the silence. “Then I won’t tell you…”
She swore she heard a crashing sound from outside and snapped, finally lifting the tone she rested on her voice. “Jesus, Eren! Can’t you be more like your sister? Look, since she studied so well in the International school you also go to,” Emphasis on the also, “She got accelerated a couple of times and is finally in college! And she finally has a job! She makes money…” Manifestly, Karla bragged about the adoptive daughter she didn’t regret to house years ago as if she weren’t even there. Even so, Mikasa just wore that plain, expression-less face of hers, but surely, Karla still felt the gratitude.
As aforementioned, as carefree as Eren could go, he didn’t even care and he couldn’t even care less of get a dent of jealousy and hurt on his pad of emotions. Nope, sir. He didn’t care about that. He loved his sister since she was always there for him from the start. “So you want me to earn money, mom?”
“Heck, I would be grateful if you earn from your tardy slips, poor grades, bad reputation and delinquent like features, Eren.” She gave her son the sassy look. Like mother, like son. “The prices in the grocery just keep on going up. Good thing your sister is helping us with the budget. But do we deprive her of her cash? No, sireeh.”
Mikasa stood up, bowed her head to signify her thankfulness towards the food—being ostensibly polite as she is—as Eren merely rolled his eyes and let out a deep sigh. “Is this really just about money?!”
Karla gasped. “No young man, this is about your studies and your future. You don’t have to be a carbon copy of your sister but we—your father and I—always wanted to secure your future. Now, help yourself!”
Since Mikasa couldn’t take the noise, she finally decided to go upstairs to her room to continue her packing for her work later thirty minutes from now. And, it seems that it would be a long trip to the office today since she heard that the subway was jam-packed with people.
As usual, when she was done with her rituals before work in the morning, she would go meet-up with Jean, an old classmate she had when she was still in World Academy, the international school where Eren dwells currently by a train station. He is awfully older than her as aforesaid that she was accelerated. A Fact? She was accelerated to the next level almost eight times already in her stay at W.A. She already left her original batch mates when she was in the third grade, her initial batch, the junior batch just under Eren and the seniors.
Fortunately, the two-toned coffee-haired foreigner, also known as Jean to Mikasa, arrived earlier than her a bit which led Mikasa to a parade of apologies. Aha, unfortunately for the race-confused man that has an obvious unrequited love for her, she kept the physical contact throughout the train ride, making his cheeks almost permanently scarlet. If you compare the two, Jean, being in the eighth grade when Mikasa left the third grade for the next year level, Mikasa would stand out as the more mature one between them.
The pair made their way through the flights of stairs that welcomed them as soon as they entered the commercialized building in the heart of Tokyo. Awkwardly for Mikasa, she doesn’t even know what the company she is applied in does anyway. All she knows is that the company practically ripped off their name from her retained surname: ‘Ackerman.’ Apparently, since she’s a new employee—she applied last month—co-workers kept gossiping and speaking rumours about her being accepted for the job just because of her relations to the owners. Hell, she didn’t even know them. Jean was one of these people who liked bringing up the discussion. Or maybe he just wanted a close to never ending small talk with the love of his life…
“Say, Mikasa, you sure you are not at all related to our boss…like at all?! I mean, it would be awkward for me to casually speak like this to the daughter of the president, y’know.” He said, nudging the raven head, both of them, handing the rails of the stairs, only a quarter done.
She stopped on the second step of the fifth flight of stairs and locked her eyes on his. “Like I told you, I’ve never even met the president yet.”
They continued climbing the mountain of stairs.
“But you’re adopted!”
As she wanted to butt out a deadpan, she almost laughed. Jean almost died, seeing the laugh of an angel.
“So? You see the Finance Head, Erwin Smith lurking around with the other employees with the last name of Smith. And, he’s not related to either one of them!” Jean had to agree. That Erwin guy had a really common last name anyway…But is Ackerman common?
The glint in the two-toned man’s eyes vanished when he realized which floor they were finally in. “Hey, this is my floor. Thanks for the talk Mikasa. Bye, see you tomorrow?” He had to depart from her again. Sad life…
After bidding their not so warm goodbyes, Mikasa proceeded up north. It was such a problem. The fact that she gets direct orders from the president’s son who has his office on the topmost floor was a big drag. Like, after lunch she would get hungry again after climbing the endless staircase.
Black pumps meet a flat carpeted floor as she reached her destination. She also had to fix her tight aquamarine pencil skirt that barely reached mid-thigh as she checked into her centre. ‘Gosh, why does Karla even buy me skimpy clothes like this…?’ Her thoughts were rather clear.
She had her own desk full of papers and books on business inside of the president’s son’s room. Only a medium-sized shelf full of unnecessary trinkets and weird books served as a blockage and a good thing to her. She didn’t like talking to her bosses’ son at all. Mikasa also didn’t like the fact that most co-workers would stare at with malice. Why? It was because others only label her as a child in a world of mature adults there. As mature as she can be, in reality, Mikasa Ackerman, a senior in her college year, is a sixteen year old girl that is studying linguistics in her college. One of the reasons that she got accepted to this company was not because of her surname but because of her outstanding and unbelievable academic background. And also, the fact that she can’t procrastinate for her life added up in the process. The Ackerman Corporation needed more people like that—especially now that they’ve expanded their land to Germany, Italy, Switzerland and America. Not to mention the fact that the Ackermans own a big branch of W.A. and most of their employees are from there, thus, having more foreigners than Japanese personnel in their branches here in Japan. Mikasa was such an extravagant controversy that the CEO himself helped her renew some papers to doctor her age. It sure was dirty work; however they were glad they kept the girl.
Not only was Mikasa Ackerman a brainy-act, but also she was a deity of the millennium in the aspects of beauty and grace. When she first joined the Ackerman Corporation, her hair length was just above her flat chest. (Many suitors that also work in her department often say that her slender figure, sex appeal and golden behind made up for absence of the two mountains supposedly in front of her.) It was confirmed that the raven head’s best feature was her long charcoal-coloured hair that was rather smooth and silky. Her face was also a heavy weight in her beauty. Her eyes were like steel and silver, yet they were soft as long lashes decorated them. Lips of a light cerise shade also attract the eyes of numerous men in the company, young, old, sometimes even the investors and other people from other companies just going there to hit on her, using ‘business reasons’ and ‘work’ as an excuse. The Caucasian beauty—no one knew she was biracial actually—already knew how to handle these kinds of things. Flirting was a thing she despised. Her social life was always blank.
Mikasa breathed in, tightened her grip on her sling bag and entered the room. Not one “good morning” welcomed her.
Sitting on a chair in front of a long desk beside her part of the room, was her superior, the one and only heir to the Ackerman Corporation, Levi Rivaille Ackerman. The two are alike in similar ways…however; they are also dissimilar in unlikely ways. Other than the surname, Levi also had that sex appeal that got the girls in the building always wanting to come to his office. They make random irrelevant complaints just to talk to him—others straightforwardly confess. Maybe this was one of the reasons why she is also judged unfairly among the staff. Who’s not going to get jealous when you work rather close to a man with dangerous eyes of a potential devil in bed? At least, that’s what the girl gossip says. Truthfully though, these rumours are merely exaggerated fantasies of unnoticed girls who loathe the sight of Mikasa Ackerman. In harmonious reality, Levi Ackerman is even much older than Jean. He has jet black hair with bangs that part in the centre, an undercut and a white cravat as his trademark. Too, out of fatigue, Levi Ackerman has lines under his eyes and sometimes it would be evident that he didn’t had a good night as black under eyes can tell a lot of stories.
Mikasa didn’t bother to say good morning, after all. She just continued to walk swiftly to her seat and started filing the piled up unaccomplished papers from yesterday. Apparently, Mikasa broke her vow of accomplishing all her work yesterday when she suddenly felt ill towards night time, got humiliated in front of the boastful Levi, and was sent home by Hanji, her other superior for rest. She’s bound to finish it today, though.
“A new set of proposals were given to me. I would like you to finish your unfinished work yesterday and that.” Levi said sharply, not even looking at her. “Also, make sure to type out my replies and consents in the fourteen languages that are essential. I want every single one processed like that by the end of the day. All of these are supposed to be submitted to the foreign investors at the end of the day. Clear?”
Mikasa merely nodded. She had no time to emit respectful words to a boss like that. She doesn’t know why but her blood just boils whenever he talks to her. It just pisses her off from time to time. She can’t even stand the sight of him. His voice was the worst part. It was crisp, and clear, and authoritative. Mikasa was a rebel. She hated being commanded by people she did not trust. But there was something about his voice…that made her intimidated.
Immediately going back to paperwork, Mikasa, being all silent, vigorous typing sounds of Levi on his laptop kept on bugging her. It was the only thing other the ticking of the wall clock disturbing her. She wanted pure silence. Of course she can’t just go tell her superior about what she feels about being bothered. He too was also immersed in the thing he was doing. Whatever it was…
After the whole day of studying and interacting with different people, Eren Jaeger, an average-looking boy with rather dark brown hair and spring green orbs waited outside of his best friend’s classroom, Armin. The moment he was dismissed from his last period, chemistry, he rushed away to the other building to just see Armin Arlert, a British born German. The two have been friends since the first grade and even though Armin had a really high IQ that can even beat Mikasa off the charts, he decided to not level up and stay with his old pals. That was how humble he was. Having a petite frame and his blonde hair, just below his ear, you can say he looks like a girl, as some of his classmates say. But other people beg to differ.
The bell rang from inside the classroom and all the students cheered, ignoring the last few remarks of the teacher who was still standing beside the chalkboard.
It wasn’t really hard to track down the blonde with a round nose since he went out of the crowd and practically jumped onto Eren. “Heeey!!!!” Armin started.
Eren pushed him off and patted his shirt. “Dude, why are you so jumpy today? Is there good news?”
Armin looked like he was about to hyperventilate as his cheeks grew red and some cat’s got his tongue. Armin tightened his grip on the straps of his backpack and said, “My favourite gaming company just released a new game!! I’ve wanted to play that RPG since the day they released the trailer last fall, bro.”
Eren’s eyes widened. “A new game you say?” He was sick of the old video game he was playing for the last thirteen years. Other than technology’s big leap, the game he played never got updates since the last update over five years ago. Eren does not know why he even keeps up with it.
Armin smiled. “Yeah, a new RPG. We can play it at the internet café if you want. It’s free online for the first ten days.”
Eren thought it was fair. If Armin said it was nice, and then maybe it is nice. Armin Arlert never lies. He is the good two shoes of the batch, and a wimp. He was a pansy, a coward. There was nothing manly about Armin Arlert. You can’t write the world ‘manly’ in bold and just put his name under it. Armin was an effeminate man. He was gentle. He thought about things too much. He applies his critical thinking in games, puzzles, and mysteries. And some think that he’s gay for Eren Jaeger, which is partially not true.
“I’m interested. Keep talking.”
So they went in the internet café just across the gates of World Academy after class.
The fresh smell of tomfoolery filled the air conditioned room. It tickled the pair’s noses. There were computers lined up in columns. Posters adorned the dark green walls of the confinement, promoting new games. And Eren saw the promotional poster of the game Armin was talking about.
The poster color palette merely ranged from brown to green. It wasn’t eye catching because of its lack in color, it was eye catching and captivating because of the art design. It looked historical and realistic. It appeared as if it happened in real life. In the middle of the poster was a young girl who looked around nine or ten. She had porcelain skin (as expected from a game character) and perfectly messy black hair that reached her chest. Her eyes were glistening through the poster as they were the color of almonds. And, a red scarf covered half her face. Her nose and lips are covered, but she seemed to be Japanese.
Eren rubbed his eyes and his hands. Did it seem colder than usual inside the café? He blinked twice before looking at the picture again. He felt nostalgic. The poster left him a nostalgic feeling that he didn’t understand. It left a knot in his stomach.
Beside the girl was a young man, with a valiant demeanor. He wore an ash brown jacket that was swarming with medals and badges that he was from an upper crop of the military, over a white buttoned shirt, and a blood tainted cravat. It was too stained that the real color of the cravat was not seen. It did not look like his blood but maybe it was the blood from the naked genital-less people that seemed exceptionally gigantic behind them that were behind the wall behind them. Eren’s eyes drifted from the man’s face to behind the wall, to the blade and gear the man was carrying. Damn, the game looks good. He had hair color same as the girl’s. His hair was short, and his bangs parted right in the middle which gave him that neurotic clean freak look. He had Asian-like eyes but his nose looked so foreign. His lips were a light purple as if he was cold. His eyebrows were permanently drawn toward each other. He looked mad, thirsty for revenge. Numerous leather belts connected themselves along his small framed body and ended where his dark brown knee high boots started. His eyes were full of disgust and revenge as blood covered his body. Every curve and point of his face was précised and perfect. It was perfection. This man was basically a sculpture from Renaissance, Eren concluded. Looking too ideal, Eren cringed. What was he thinking? He felt a strange attraction to the young male character. He wasn’t gay. But he can say that if he was a girl, she was someone Eren would like to date.
He read the kanji which was its title.
Eren Jaeger sucked at Japanese because his school and ways of living didn’t demand him to speak the language but he tried to do so.
“Shingeki no…” Eren struggled at the big, bold and bloody lettering. “Armin, how do you pronounce this?” He pointed at the characters he can’t understand.
“It says Shingeki no Kyojin.” He looked at Eren.
Eren looked at him.
“Shit man, I can’t understand ching chong.”
Armin sighed. “What do you want me to do?”
“Uh, translate it for me.”
A moment and a half of staring at the poster like the idiots that they are were passed.
“It means Attack on Titan.” Armin finally answered with a hint of annoyance because of Eren’s stupidity and limits in the Japanese language despite living in Japan for over thirteen years already. “Shingeki no Kyojin means Attack on Titan.”
They made their way through the room to the computer labeled ‘1’ at the end of the room. It was their favorite computer because it caught more signal than the others. Eren took ‘2’.
“So the titans are those naked…monsters?”
Armin started surfing the net, getting the link to the server of the game in their town. “You can’t really call them monsters, Eren. They’re still people.”
“But they don’t have genitals. Fuck, even animals have genitals. What are they? How do they reproduce?”
Armin sighed and rolls his eyes at his curious friend. “I have only read the synopsis, and have yet to try the game.” He pointed at the character customization he was going through.
“I suggest playing with me while I’m at it.” Armin added.
And so, Eren searched the link, got into the server, made his account and started with the character customization. To his surprise, just like the promotional poster, the customization settings were also detailed. All the settings for the character’s body frame and face were detailed and realistic. His expectations were followed. It looked like a human copying app. Every face was so lifelike and probable to exist. The human brain does not create faces. One way or another, they’ve seen people like this. The programmers must have done tons of research for the customization only.
“The customization choices are so amazing. They vary...” Armin started, awfully immersed in creating his persona. “Finally, there’s a game that’s not racist or influenced my westernization…or based Eurocentric concepts for once.”
“Yeah.” Eren was speechless everything seemed so epically fictional. He didn’t know what Armin was talking about. And, he could care less. He was just in awe the whole time.
“Check my character out!” Armin says while gripping the sleeve of Eren’s uniform.
From his own computer monitor, Eren darted his eyes over at Armin’s. His jaw dropped at the sight. “Jesus Christ!” Eren screamed. Armin perfectly made his persona look exactly like him. From the stubby nose…to the girly blonde locks…and the cerulean eyes full of wonder…the small forehead…it was accurate! “The programmers are awesome! No, you are awesome!”
Armin clapped for himself because of Eren’s genuine praise. “How your’s going?”
Before Eren could even cover the embarrassing masterpiece on his screen, Armin already caught a big glimpse of it. “It looks like your mom.”
“I know right. That’s the point. I want her to get eaten by these titans…you call them.”
Armin got truthfully disturbed at the thought. His eyebrows met, and he faced Eren with a serious face. “Don’t joke about it. If they’re real would you let your mom get eaten?”
“It’s just a game dude, chill.”
“I still encourage you to customize it based on how you look. You’ll have more chances of winning, said the producers. It’s like seeing yourself in a dream—in another world. And of course, you wouldn’t want to get eaten right?” Armin made sense. And so, Eren gave in and turned his character into himself.
It was six o’clock in the evening when the two friends stopped playing. Despite the game being addictive, the two ran out of pocket money to pay. They were outside. Grey skies embarked on a journey… Night was settling near. The autumn leaves rustled as the two friends took a last look at the Shingeki no Kyojin promotional poster from outside. The nostalgia settled in deep into Eren’s thoughts once again.
“The concept was cool! I can’t wait to make a review about it. Of course I can’t make a definite walkthrough….haha.” Armin kept on rambling on how the game was awesome.
Shingeki no Kyojin tells how humans live in walls and are at the brink of eternal extinction. You can play as a titan or as a hero. And, you can play live with other characters online. The thrill of survival…the belief of killing or getting killed elated Armin and Eren. For a long time, the boys looked for a game drug. And now they’ve seen the most addictive drug of them all. When you start playing, you enter a time space wherein everything is possible. You forget about the real world…and the world within your mind eats you alive. That is what happened to the two after an intense 2-hour session of playing. They would have pulled an all-nighter if they actually owned the internet café.
Armin snapped. “Eren, are you listening?”
“Uh…I’m sorry. I got disturbed.” Eren scratched his head.
“What’s the matter?” Armin probed.
He observed how Eren’s eyes were fixated on the poster with a serious expression. This unlocks Armin’s curiosity. “You’ve been looking at that…since forever,”
Eren puts a hand on the transparent glass. “This poster looks too real.”
“Yeah, Computer Generated—”
“No, Armin,” Eren corrected him. “Not that. I mean, this girl…it’s like I’ve seen her before.” Eren squinted his eyes as he took a closer look at the face of the girl…the face of pure innocence…haunting your soul. She was scared. She was scarred. Something diabolic must have happened. The girl character was not even in the introduction either. She just looked like a background. However, there was something in her wildly pure eyes that intrigued Eren so much. It made him think of…
“It looks like a mini Mikasa. I remember! She looks like this back when we were in fourth grade. I believe she was grade three?” And when Armin mentioned it, suddenly Eren hit a realization.
“She looked exactly like this…during that time in the police station…”
He reminisced that day…that day…he first laid eyes on Mikasa.
During the summer after Eren’s second grade, Grish Jaeger, his father, was often sent to different places in Japan as his position at his job was demanding certain circumstances. He was a policeman and Karla can’t do anything about that fact.
They believe this daily repositioning of due to a human trafficking incident that was reported to the officials after an underground yakuza issue exploded.
And when Grisha returned, he came back with an extremely petite child of Japanese and European decent. She looked malnourished as her bones were protruding through her fair skin. She didn’t look taken care of. Soon this child’s background was unfolded in the Jaeger household. Mikasa Ackerman was part of a Eurasian clan that owed a fortune and a half to the yakuza. And her father failed to pay their debts. And so, the big yakuza boss ordered some men to take away all the women and children of the said clan and sell them off to other countries. Mikasa was one of them, only eight during that time. And the child witnessed the blood-curdling scene of her mother getting killed. She was the last survivor. And she was saved by Grisha and his men.
Eren still remembered what she wore that day. A dirty, crumpled satin dress that had ripped parts from the bottom… A thin baby pink jacket that passed her waist… A ragged red scarf…
Armin’s answer brought him back from his mind. “That’s just a coincidence.”
Eren swallowed air. “I guess.”
The two friends parted ways in the train station. And, Eren was left with a wide eye of curiosity and a big interest in the said game.