Mikasa has been playing Shingeki no Kyojin for a week now. Playing the famous RPG unexpectedly did not affect her studies and her work negatively as she feared it would. Instead, it took a big toll on the wonderful progression of her work and her grades positively. Naturally she would not have free time to burn in a regular day. However, ever since this she tasted a fragment of this powerful drug, she got addicted and did the impossible. She made time for her hobby from scratch.
She would wake up early in the morning to play just before she headed to school to take her classes that often changed schedule. She’d go online again when she had a free period. Somehow, the classes and her thirst for victory did not overlap. The grades were maintained.
After a short time in her classes, she’d go over to the office wherein she was only required to stay for a couple of hours on a regular day. She would bring her laptop around the office to play when she has time which rarely happens because Levi kept her busy indeed while he was busy fiddling with his pc.
At the end of the day, when she got home she’d play all night after all obligations and responsibilities were done. Everything was at a good pace. Everything was well-balanced in young Mikasa’s life. There was nothing impossible for Mikasa Ackerman and the burning passion she feels after a successful scout.
Until one day in the office…
It was lunch break in the main building of the Ackerman Corporation settled in the heart of Tokyo’s industrialized commercial area. Mikasa has just arrived the building with neat clothes which consisted of closed caramel stilettos, a black comfortable lacey pencil skirt that seemed longer than any of what Karla bought her, and a mauve blouse under a dark-colored blazer. What she wore in the office often made her look professional and older for her age. Today, she also bothered to put on light makeup as her cheeks were tinted baby pink and her long eyelashes were pushed up by miraculous mascara.
Mikasa made her way through the hectic people skating along the lobby from different sectors and departments, scrambling to meet deadlines. With her black laptop bag in hand and the bag Karla gifted her in the other, she swiftly made her way into the marketing department of the building where Jean would usually be at, at this time, to join some friends for lunch.
She gazed at the many tiny open offices in the room, looking for Jean only to see him hanging out with Marco Bodt, the Marketing Head. They were having coffee.
He was tanned, robust, and unbelievably cute for a six-footer. Marco was around the same age as Jean though he had more successes in his life and career. He was meek and humble. He was one of those gentle giant bosses around the office which were rare to find.
Jean and he were chatting away with cheap coffee in cheap paper cups from the vending machine when Mikasa approached them.
Lover boy was the first to notice. “Hey Mikasa! C-care to join us for coffee?” He was squirming tensely in his position, trying not to get lost in her eyes.
Mikasa nodded. “Sure. I haven’t eaten yet. I just got here.”
Marco smiled it was his first time meeting her, though she need not a introduction for him. He was aware who the Eurasian beauty was. “So, this is the legendary Mikasa Ackerman I’ve been hearing from you, Jean?” He eyed Jean with a small suggestive grin.
Jean grew red.
“Oh but it’s not only from him that I’ve heard about you.” Marco added. He stood up from his seat and fixed his eyes on her. “The higher-ups tell me you’re an efficient worker and a responsible student.”
Mikasa suddenly felt ill. The higher-ups? She hated being overly-praised. It makes her co-workers’ standards of her high, too high for her to reach. And some of them end up distrusting her, trash-talking her, and shunning her because of such commendations. In the industry, the crab system wasn’t rare. It happens all the time. This is a daily occurrence in the Ackerman Corporation.
“Uhm thank you. I believe it’s the first time we’ve met, Sir Bodt.”
Marco pouted. “Oh don’t call me ‘Sir’! We’re probably the same age.”
Mikasa looked at Jean. Jean returned the stare.
Jean intervened. “She’s kind of young, Marco.”
Marco’s smile grew. Every time he spoke, the freckles on his cheeks moved. “Young, huh? And really beautiful. Mikasa, dear, are you some kind of model?”
Marco chuckled. “Then where did you come from?! Gosh, someone as attractive as you should be in the marketing department under me. You do know we need to attract as many customers…”
Jean leaned forward and laid a hand on Marco’s right shoulder with his free hand, trying to hold back the irritation he’s feeling. “I’m going to say it again, Marco. She’s kind of young.” The French man tried his best to hold back the cussing.
Light eyes met dark ones as both men understood the situation. The only one who could not read the atmosphere was Mikasa.
Marco slowly backed away, his eyes, still on Mikasa. “Well, you can always join us. Bye, for now.”
Mikasa gulped air harshly. She did not expect someone as Angelic as Marco Bodt to be quite menacing and flirty.
Mikasa beamed at Jean. “Thanks,”
Jean smiled and took her the elbow. “Now let’s go get some lunch, ok?”
Mikasa twirled the soggy noodles of her spaghetti in frustration. “Are you sure it was okay? I mean, Marco’s in a pretty high position right? You might get bullied again ‘cause of me.” She was still dwelling on what happened in the marketing department. “It has already happened in the past. It can happen again.” She reminded the poker-faced man who was too busy paying attention to his sandwich.
Jean chomped down the last of his chicken sandwich in one swoop, talking with his mouth full. “Yeah but it is Marco. We went to WA together in the second grade.”
“He’s still higher than us. He might do something.”
Jean yawned. “Nah, he wouldn’t do that. He’s a nice person. He’s a fuck-boy, but nice.”
Mikasa paused and stared down at her food. She remembered the time Jean almost lost his job for punching a co-worker that violated her in some way. “How do you know?”
He looked at the ceiling then at her. Somehow, the answer was above them. “We were friends till the fifth grade. He was gay for me in the eighth grade. There was no other person I knew too tell other than Marco Bodt.”
At some point, Mikasa laughed and laughed her heart out in front of the food. It was one of these times wherein her emotions would show up, meaning that she was still human. It was usual for Mikasa and the people around her to not see her emotions. She wore a plain face always. It wasn’t because she had a problem expressing. But, most of the time she felt empty. Like, there was something missing in her soul. There was a piece of her she hasn’t found yet or she wasn’t aware of. It’d be lucky to see her crack under frustration and cry or get pissed or laugh, letting others hear her angelic laugh. It would make her look more human. Other people would think she’s an emotionless doll with a pretty plastic face. Mikasa is happy when she’s aware she’s showing some feelings. She is happy when she’s aware that she’s human.
After lunch, Mikasa was forced to sit in an enormous room across from Levi with only some furniture and books on shelves covering her. That was her job, to stay by Levi and organize all his appointments and issues. It was real bad luck that the higher-ups redesigned his office. Now she can’t escape his glare. Moreover, she can’t work well with him staring from time to time.
Mikasa reviewed and retyped numerous documents Levi created for various company purposes, scrolling through them one by one without error. She filed and encased them in folders. She typed and typed and reprinted. It was handy that they finally positioned the printer near her desk.
On a normal day, the room would be silent and no one would acknowledge each other’s presence, not even a stare given.
But now it was different. Mikasa would beam at her boss to see what he was doing. And she’d catch him staring at her. His eyes were as sharp as ever for when she catches him. He averts his gaze abruptly back to his pc. “Oh. And his pc.”
Mikasa has been dreading the noisy sound of bony fingers hitting the keyboard harshly and snappy mouse clicks since last week. Levi won’t stop working on his pc. He types and clicks all the way, and looks astonished sometimes when he pauses to stare at his pc.
“Is he scrolling through porn sites or something?” The thought made her feel uneasy on her seat since he would always look at her.
She shook her head, getting rid of the nasty thought and buried herself in the documents needed to be translated. Mikasa was about to open a new file sent from email when the vigorous typing from the other end of the room ceased.
She grew cold. “Y-yes?” She snapped her head up.
“Take a break.”
What did he just say? Her eyes widened at the words that just escaped his mouth. It was a phrase that the bossy little imp never said before.
Levi looked at her in the eye from across the room. “That’s an order. I don’t want any of my employees getting sick again. The deadlines are pretty near.” There was no compassion or concern in his voice or his eyes. He’s still deadpan. The words flowing out were complete opposites of what his nonchalant expression said.
She rather not probe further for his sudden change of attitude and stood up walking towards the door with her laptop in her hand. It was a once in a blue moon chance. Mikasa planned to go play in the lobby.
A stern voice stopped her though. “I didn’t give you permission to leave the room. You may rest, I said. But you have to stay. I can’t have you running around during office hours.” He fixates his eyes on his monitor and slumps back on his wheeled chair.
Mikasa went back to her seat and gave him the middle finger from under her seat. It looks like she has to play here.
Pulling out her laptop out of its black bag, Mikasa pushes some random work materials out of her desk and into her drawer to make some space.
She started it, connected to the Wi-Fi and logged into her account.
Whenever she logs in, she would look at her ranking in her profile first. As of the last time she was online, she was on the top of the list of players. She had the highest scouting score and scored tons of points during her training days. LilMika was the highest ranking player in all Japan. The pride and contentment she felt good whenever she logged in, ready to scout.
However, today marked a ray of disappointment in Mikasa’s short gaming life as someone has just passed her highest record in scouting. Someone named LanceCorporal has surpassed the digits any other player has dared to surpass but has failed. He was two thousand points higher than her.
Mikasa heated in her seat. She had to know who was this person behind such a mysterious character. His profile picture was a question mark. It intrigued her.
With one click, Mikasa went to the character’s profile. It consisted of the medals he’s obtained and the position he was in. This guy probably entered a lot of ranking scouts for him to be a Captain of one of the Scouting Legion’s special squads.
Just like Mikasa’a character, this LanceCorporal wore the signature brown jacket with the Flugel no Freiheit insignia which was a white wing over a blue one and a white shirt under it. They had the same set of straps and leather boots. The only thing different about him in the physical aspect of his uniform was the white cravat that was hanging from his shirt. This character was also oozing with sex appeal. He had dark black hair and a slightly buff built. He was also tall, very tall. Though, Mikasa failed to see those details. The only thing she paid attention to was the elaborate build-up of the character’s pale face. He had a tall nose bridge and flat cheekbones. His eyebrows here pointed towards each other as it complimented his dark deep-seated eyes. His whole face was well-carved. It was a face she knew well. He had an undercut while the bangs of his black hair were parted at the middle.
The character looked quite similar to one of the default characters at the introduction of the game. Maybe it was a coincidence too, because Mikasa actually based LilMika off the little girl in the cover of the game and also her own appearance too. She found it odd that she resembled a game character. But that probably has happened anyway.
But there was that eerie feeling about this LanceCorporal and how he looked too similar to…
Mikasa beamed at the 3D character then at Levi. Afterwards, she stared intently at her boss’ pc.
It might be a mere coincidence but there was only one way to find out.
LilMika challenged LanceCorporal to a friendly match.
Mikasa looked for something in Levi’s eyes. Was he Humanity’s Strongest Player?
Evidently, Levi straightened his back and focused more on his computer’s monitor, leaning forward.
After a few second Mikasa received as a notification.
The two black-haired entities meet outside the training camp of the 105th squad of trainees. The humid wind blew and LilMika’s red scarf waved in the dusty air. It was sunset when their battle begun.
Both players used nothing more but their bare hands and combat skills. No sword shall hurt a fellow human trying to survive in this mad world where titans exist.
LilMika had the disadvantage, being shorter than her opponent. But she was the offensive.
LanceCroporal used his size to deflect all attacks from her.
LilMika punches him in the gut.
LanceCorporal barely moves an inch and barely shows a reaction. He swiftly pushes the shorter opponent to the ground and carries her.
A knock on the door disrupts the silence circulating through the spacious room. Levi stands up to entertain the guest.
It was Nanabi of the Finance department. He was old, blonde, and completely stressed out.
Suddenly LanceCorporal’s movements stopped. Mikasa peered at Levi who was standing closely at the door.
“Sir, she needs a report on—”
Levi was on beast mode as he faced Nanabi with his pointed eyebrows, sharp eyes and a big frown on his lips. His arms were crossed, signaling that he doesn’t care. “I don’t have time for this.” He cuts.
Nanabi starts sweating. He was greatly taller than Levi but he was scared of the little man. “Um.”
“Can’t you see I was in the middle of something? I can’t pause it!”
“I’m sorry sir, but she needs you. It shall be very quick.”
Levi scowls. “Ok then.”
They both leave the room and Levi slams the door shut.
Mikasa stands up after making sure her opponent wasn’t making anymore movement. “He’s not moving, huh? And Levi just left his computer…” She tiptoes towards the other end of the room where Levi’s things were organized on his working desk, his pc, left open.
“Only one way to find out.” One more step.
Levi opened the door and causally walked in, catching Mikasa sitting on one of the chairs in front of his desk. “What are you doing?”
Mikasa slowly stands up and looks around for an answer to his question. She couldn’t think of a believable excuse. It was Levi. Levi is not the most gullible person. “I just…”
“Never mind.” He goes back to his seat. “Start getting serious by three.”
Mikasa was about to go back to her seat when Levi’s fingers went back to action, typing and ravishing the keyboard.
“Wait I have something to ask you. Come here.”
It was finally her chance to see what he was doing behind the computer. She was interested what it was all about. And, she wanted to know if he was the person behind Humanity’s Strongest.
She went beside his desk, trying to go for an angle wherein she’ll see what he was doing on his pc.
LilMika stopped moving as LanceCorporal pinned her to the ground and did not cease punching the younger soldier. The girl was coughing out blood.
Levi completely ignored Mikasa’s presence beside him as she was watching him beat the crap out of her character.
Just like Mikasa, Levi’s curiosity sprang when, out of nowhere, he received an invitation from a new challenger whom he learned was the second strongest player. He quickly went through her profile when he saw the resemblance between the character and his subordinate across the room, Mikasa, who was absorbed in what she was doing on her laptop.
He accepted. The fight happened.
He decided to call over Mikasa to prove his conclusion. She left her laptop. LilMika ceased to move.
After draining LilMika of her Life Points, he couldn’t help but smirk at the screen. “Do you know what this game is, Mikasa?”
He saw her tense up. Her eyes seemed darker and her lips were quivering with anger.
For Levi, reading people were easy as pie. He was an observant person and he knew how to read people who aren’t that transparent or straightforward with their emotions just like Mikasa. For him, she was an enigma, always showing no emotion. He knew she was different.
Mikasa was not like the other girls who would do anything humiliating to catch his attention.
The raven-head bit her lower lip and averted her eyes from his gaze. She intently looked at the screen. “M-My brother plays that. So do I.”
That confirmed his thoughts. Levi stood up from his seat. “As you might’ve have seen, I’m LanceCorporal.” He gazed at her head to toe. She was shaking not from fear but from pure hatred. His conclusions were totally correct. “Might you be LilMika?”
Mikasa nodded, defeated.
“Judging by your profile you haven’t had any loses yet.”
Mikasa nodded, this time she dared to look at him in the eye. “I always disconnect before committing a loss. I’ve never died in a scout. I have, no, had a title to hold.” She exhaled. “I was Humanity’s strongest Player…until you came along.”
Levi sat down again and positioned himself in front of his pc. “I did not enter the gaming world just because I wanted to have fun or just because this is the industry we are in. I started playing this because of a person.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
Opening a drawer under his desk, he took out an old newspaper clipping from two months ago. He held it up and motioned Mikasa to get it. She did and she read the headline aloud. “Twenty five year old commits suicide similar to how she died in a game…”
Mikasa read the first few lines of the article which seemed to be ripped off from its original bundle. As her eyes brushed each line her eye widened with disbelief.
“Yeah, you read it right. Petra Ral died in a game when a titan slammed her on a tree. The police found her in the same position in an empty lot somewhere in her neighborhood. She was lying down on the foot of a tree, bloody, dead.” Levi monotonous voice echoed in Mikasa’s mind.
Mikasa threw the article on his desk, backing away slowly. “That’s such a coincidence…a creepy coincidence.”
Levi rubbed his temples. “Petra was my girlfriend. We met online and she invited me to play this game with her. It was fun. I scouted with her every single day. We also played with other friends. But one time, the day before she died, we scouted deeper into the forest outside the walls. My whole team was wiped out by a single titan.”
He took the newspaper clipping and crumpled it. “It wasn’t only Petra who died in real life. All our other teammates were also found dead in empty lots or grassy places near their homes.”
Mikasa couldn’t believe what she was hearing from her boss. First of all, it was the first time he had a conversation with her with more than three sentences. And all the things he said were unbelievable but seeing that there was an article about his girlfriend’s death scared her.
“I’m sorry for your loss. But, what does this have to do with me?”
“It’s not just them, Mikasa. Other people have been dying when they die in-game. Their families have no idea what’s happening. Even the authorities have no idea where they should start because all the deaths were caused by suicide. It may be a psychological problem with some players, but when they researched and investigated the company that produced the game, there was nothing wrong. Nothing seemed off. However, there are three out of five cases wherein the person dies in real life the same when in-game.” Levi explained.
“What do you want me to do about that, stop playing?” Mikasa winced.
“A big part of this company and numerous students from WA play this game on a daily basis, but only a few die in real life. We’re still trying to figure out the pattern.” Levi stated.
“What do you mean by, ‘we’?”
Levi sighed. “When I told all this to Hanji she eventually joined me. We want to get to the bottom of this mystery. So, don’t die. You have to help us.”
Mikasa crossed her arms. “What’s in it for me?”
“You have a brother who plays this too, right?”
And in that moment, Mikasa's world expanded.
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, MallowMinWrite a Review