The Legend Begins
The surrounding landscape was graced in ice and snow, blanketing the field before him in a shade of white. The cold times always amazed him; everything would transfer from lush and green to a vast, colorless, and dead earth. Despite the nothingness, it was actually tranquil to the now troubled Rogue. In the past year since the breach, the titan had become incredibly protective. He was responsible for his little ones' well-being and safety. Unlike before, their world had become even more dangerous. The blissful days of play in the forest were long gone and Rogue was now fighting for their survival.
Rogue stood at the tree line of his vast forest, a place that he had marked himself as his territory by stripping bark from trees by either tooth or claw around the perimeter. The titan also made sure to leave his scent on the selected trees as well, rubbing them much like a cat would rub against its owner's leg, as an added measure. Honestly, he wasn't sure if his efforts were actually working, but he had seen animals in his little one's book do the very same to keep out intruders, so it was worth trying. He remained vigilant as he stared out at the field, his green eyes observing a lone human dwelling. Rogue sniffed cautiously. Yes, what he was looking for was defiantly there. In the months that had passed, Rogue would often venture from the cove, leaving his little ones safely inside as he performed his excursions. He would leave three days a week, the tasks a job. Rogue would spend hours slaying any titan he could get his hands on, hunting them ruthlessly with precision and determination. Afterwards, he would search the abandoned human cities, villages, and dwellings for human food for his little ones as well as cloth they called clothes and any object that he thought that they would like – including books to spoil them. However, finding human food was getting harder and harder, adding another thing to Rogue's list of worries.
Taking another sniff, Rogue surveyed the area one last time to ensure that nothing was amiss before walking out into the snow-covered field. He had to hurry, his body functioned well in the cold with all his inner heat, but his little ones did not. Although they were warm for the moment, Rogue still could not leave them for long. They needed his body heat; he was the cove's designated guardian and furnace. Rogue looked around at the white landscape once more before kneeling down next to the human dwelling. Lately, he had been having a string of luck. This dwelling and a few others before it, was intact and well preserved compared to the many other deplorable dwellings that had been ravaged by the chaos of the retreat. Carefully, Rogue pried off the roof in a neat manner and placed it aside. The titan then peered down into the dwelling, a small space that barely had enough room for anyone to live in. Rogue's eyes ignited in curiosity as they scanned the small space. The titan then listened briefly to make sure no soul was around before bending down and placing his nose into the human dwelling to sniff frugally. It smelled like the others, radiating with the scent of yeast and dried bread. Rogue blinked in awe as he scrutinized further, there were some things here that he had seen in the other good dwellings like the strange square objects and metal log like ones, but this one had some things he hadn't come across.
Like a child going through a new box of toys, the titan gave in to a little bit of anticipation. The titan then stuck his hand into the dwelling and began to messily go through it. Rogue's ears twitched naturally in amusement as he pulled out a mess of what appeared to be black vines and held them delicately before his face. The titan tilted his head, puzzled by the object. Yes, they were like the vines that dangled from some of his trees, but they were hard and cold. Concerned as to what the new object was, Rogue sniffed inquisitively and allowed his tongue to taste the object. It smelled like metal and its flavor was hard to place. Interested, Rogue sat it aside for safe keeping before turning back to the dwelling to continue his prodding. There were other items that interested him as he went along, turning the small space into a mess that rivaled a ransacking bear. He found what looked to be belts like his human used to wear except they were bunched up and connected together, things that humans ate off of for reasons he didn't understand, and things that looked like strips of white cloth. As much as he wanted to explore the dwelling's contents, Rogue suddenly remembered that he had a task that he was to do.
The titan bent over and sniffed again in search of the human food smell that he had detected earlier. The creature's attention was then thrown to a large wooden chest in the corner of the dwelling where the odor was originating. Carefully, Rogue lifted the lid delicately with a single finger to reveal five loafs of bread. A slight frown came to his face, the minuscule amount would not feed his little ones for long. Rogue let out a distressed breath of steam before gradually removing the loaves from the trunk and placed them with the black vine he had found earlier. However, the rest of the contents in the trunk caught his eye. In the human box, there were many objects that looked like the stones that man used to build, but the smell of them was astounding. Rogue retrieved the small stone in wonder and held it before his nose, eyes crossing slightly to observe the odd finding. The titan's brow rose as the scent wavered and swept through his nostrils. It too, smelled like the things that humans ate. Was it possible that these stones were food that his little ones could eat too?
Before he could ponder further about his discovery, a familiar and surprising scent was delivered to Rogue by the icy wind. The titan paused, letting out a quick grunt in disbelief as he transferred his attention to the new scent's source. Slowly, he rose up upon his knees and sniffed viciously. Rogue's eyes suddenly widened and his ears pricked forward with shock. It wasn't titan, the stench that now plagued the land, but human. Not his little ones, but human nonetheless. Worried, the titan rose to his feet, neglecting his stash and findings as he stared intently in the direction of origin. Did humans not know how dangerous it was here? Did they not know death was around every corner?
Feeling his protective instincts overpower him, Rogue quickly replaced the roof skillfully upon the dwelling and motioned in the direction of the new humans. His little ones would be safe for a while longer in his nest. He had to see if these humans were all right as well, but more so what they were doing in the titans' domain – and why.
The blanket of snow was ripped and torn as a small group of horses galloped through the patch of trees with their riders. Despite the presence of white coating the landscape and the frigid cold, it was normal for the Scouts to go on expeditions. However, due to recent reports and findings, Section Commander Hange Zoe, Section Commander Mike, and a few selected members of the regiment were now on an investigation rather than a hunt. Most of the team was nervous with the lack of the Commander and Corporal who had been summoned to Wall Sina, all except for Hange who was always eager to enter the realm of the titans due to her fascination and lust for knowledge.
"How much further is it Molbit?" Hange questioned to her assistant, a quiet blonde soldier that rode next to her. She watched eagerly and almost impatiently as he pulled out a crinkled map and began to study it.
"Depot number six should be right around this bend, Section Commander!" Molbit informed with Hange nodding in reply.
"I still don't know why Erwin is having us out here looking into this matter right now. I'm freezing my god damn ass off out – grahhh!"
Hearing the pitiful cry of anguish, both Hange and Mike turned to see that Oluo, an arrogant man who was often called Corporal Levi's biggest fan due to how much he attempted to follow in the other's footsteps, had yet again suffered from his habit of biting his tongue on horseback. A few of the fresher soldiers sniggered all the while the more seasoned veterans that were used to Oluo's behavior, remained focused. Mike then turned to face them, alleviating everyone at once with his impassive face.
"Quiet down." He began seriously, gathering every amount of attention from his comrades. Mike was a skilled Section Commander with a nose like a human bloodhound. To nearly everyone, he was a man of little words. So when he spoke, everyone listened. "The Commander requested us to investigate this matter because it is likely a serious one. Please, no further questions until we arrive." Mike concluded as the horses crested a small knoll in the path, his command sinking into the others.
The Scouts then came upon a small clearing in a thicket of snow-dusted trees. In its center sat an old stone building chocked in weeds and vines. Long ago, it had been a tavern for the weary and worn. When the breach occurred and Wall Maria was abandoned, the Scouting Regiment seized the opportunity to confiscate the vacant building and transform it into a safe house and depot for supplies like they had done with many other old residences. Hange then dismounted her horse and tethered it to a nearby branch, waiting as the others soon joined her. She then casually retrieved a set of keys from Molbit and began to thumb through them.
"Let's make this quick. We've got several other depots to examine – most being in the plains where our maneuver gear is useless if we encounter any titans." Mike muttered as he joined the other Section Commander at the wooden door. A mischievous smile naturally came to Hange's face.
"Who knows? Perhaps we'll discover something new today." The scientist put simply, purposely leaving out the rest of her statement as she separated the key she was searching for and placed it into the rusty lock. No soul asked her to clarify, knowing that it was most likely about titans. It was a known fact that upon joining the Survey Corps, the first thing that new Scouts learned besides the fact that Corporal Levi was short, was Hange's passionate obsession with the large beasts. Ignoring a quiet insult from Oluo, the Section Commander turned the key, the rust nearly forbidding the lock to surrender. After a forceful shove, the door to the safe house gave way, bringing a frown to the two Section Commanders' faces.
"Looks like this one's been hit as well." Mike announced as the team of Scouts entered the dusty building.
Inside the depot, the normally orderly space looked far worse than Hange's messy office. Beds were tossed aside and broken with feathers gutted from pillows and littering the floor. Glass was scattered across the wooden base from broken dishes while other supplies were carelessly strung out in various areas. Carefully, Hange stepped over and navigated through the scattered remains of the Scout's belongings to a collection of wooden crates. Like the rest of the depot, they had been torn open and strewn, their contents marauded. Puzzled, Hange rubbed her chin thought.
"It's the same as the others. Look's like the reports of the safe houses being raided are true." Hange thought aloud.
"What fools. Do they even realize that they are stealing from the military?" Oluo began smugly, receiving an eyeful from his squad mate Petra Ral, another veteran from Levi's squad that was a kind and caring soldier – one that seemed to always catch Oluo's eye.
"You could honestly get a grip." She muttered. "We don't know the full extent of things here, Oluo."
Hange continued to examine the crates, looking at the splintered wood in awe – once again her mind was clouded in question while she continued to speculate. "Mike?" She began, turning to see that the man was observing the opposite side of the room, sniffing for clues like a hound. "Do you have any ideas?" She queried, taking his sense of smell into account. When it came to things like this, Mike was ideal – his nose most likely the reason why Erwin put him on this mission.
Finally registering her query, the tall man turned to her, his fingers running through the whiskers on his chin. "Admittedly, I can't make out much. From what I can tell, this place was hit a while ago, two or three weeks at best since I can't smell too much. It may be trashed, but this depot's intact for the most part except for some slight foundation issues, which is pretty common for structures in Wall Maria with the presence of titans. From the evidence I'm able to discern, there's two possibilities – well one is much more logical than the other."
Hange blinked, her mind still drawing up conclusions. "What are your theories?" She questioned. Mike turned to face her, holding a finger in reply but was cut off by Petra's gasp.
"Mike, do you think that there could possibly be – survivors out here?" She asked; her voiced crippled in concern. Mike quickly shook his head in denial.
"No. I can smell a man's sweat and oily hair easy. There's no such trace of any humans here." He paused, hanging his head slightly before proceeding. "Besides. No one, not even a Scout, without instincts and maneuver gear could survive here for more than a few hours." Mike finished sternly, making the others drop any shred of hope they had about the likelihood of human stragglers.
Hange sighed in disappointment. "I guess our only current suspect we have is the hypothesis that the nearby wildlife are the ones engaging in this thievery." She paused as she bent over to observe the jagged and splintered wood from the crates. "Yes, it certainty has to be an animal of some sort. From the amount of damage, I think it's a bear species – hence the reason why only the food is missing." She smirked a bit as she glanced at the trashed depot. "I guess they had to look a bit before they found it!" Hange chuckled in her annoying but enthusiastic laugh. Molbit then nodded in agreement, shyly leaning from a bent cabinet.
"I think you're right Squad Leader. The far window there is broken, big enough for a bear to climb through."
"You're right." Hange admitted as she turned to view a far window that had been shattered. "I suppose our top theory about the possibility of bears is true. However, I guess we'll know for sure when we examine the other depots." Hange finished, observing the others agree and begin to salvage through the remains of the supplies, searching for anything that could be useful. The scientist then motioned for the broken window and began to scrutinize it closely like a detective. Her eyes naturally narrowed as she took in the details – something was off. Unexpectedly, Hange felt someone looming over her. Curious, she turned her head slightly to see Mike glaring at the glass and window frame in suspicion as well.
"I doubt that this was done by bears." The man uttered, his voice so low that she was barely able to pick it up.
For a moment, Hange let his words sink in as she looked outside the window, taking notice of the glass shards embedded in the snow. "I doubt that as well." She assessed, as she looked harder at the glass and frame. "If a bear had got in through this window – the glass would be on the inside and not scattered outside."
"You're correct. Not to mention, if someone or something had come through this window – there would be a good amount of blood."
Hange's mind swarmed, thoughts like angry bees. She began to chew on the inside of her cheek fretfully, knowing that this case was not as simple as it seemed. A seemingly unpretentious issue was turning into a much deeper problem. "Then again," she began as she observed the ceiling above the window, the beams looking a bit sagged and stressed. "It could just be the result of the foundation settling. The pressure probably caused the broken window." Hange paused, a cunning smirk painting itself onto her face. "Then perhaps that's when our little thieves came for a visit. Looks like Erwin is going to have to invest in boarding up the windows in every one of our safe houses."
Mike sighed. "That could be true, but we need to visit the other depots to see –
However, the man cut himself off and turned his attention away from Hange. She watched as Mike took in the aroma with incredible attentiveness. His face suddenly twisted into a scowl that could rival Levi's as he let out a harsh breath in aggravation. "Move out." He growled, putting everyone on high alert. "We've worn out our welcome."
The scent of human guided him further among the trees. With each step, the odors grew stronger and stronger. However, Rogue grew even more edgy with each colossal stride. During his expedition to find the small group of humans, the foul stench of his wrenched kind suddenly emerged – making it painfully clear that they were looking for blood. At times, he considered turning back to join his little ones once again, but the cove was safe – no titan could get in except for him. These new humans however, were out in the open per say. There was no way they could protect themselves. Thus, he had decided to trail them further just to make sure that they were holding their own.
Suddenly, the scent of man and titan swept into his nostrils full blast like an arctic gale. Immediately, Rogue slowed his pace. Seeing that the border of the foliage fortress was only an arm length away, he took refuge behind a massive trunk. Gradually, he shifted to peer around the tree – the sight making him turn completely and let out a sharp grunt in surprise. Rogue's eyes widened in awe and his ears naturally pricked forward with eagerness as he observed the scene unfolding before him.
There were ten titans, all ranging within the four to twelve meter range, quarreling with a group of about two dozen humans – uniformed humans. Rogue released a few zealous gurgles as he watched them – some which were unlike any that he had seen before. These humans – they could fly, propelling themselves through the air gracefully like a bird. He observed in pure amazement and speculation. How could they fly? They didn't have wings like a bird. The only things they had on them that looked like wings was the marking upon their backs that was unlike the two other types of uniformed men he knew of. Rogue edged slightly closer, squinting to see that the flying humans were soaring by rapidly moving ropes of some sort – striking their mark like a snake each time they shot out. Curious, he stretched his neck further to watch. A human then whizzed by one of his kind, slicing two long blades deep into the creature's nape before flying off. Rogue watched, his pupils growing in sheer bewilderment as the titan fell to the earth, dead and evaporating within seconds. Another grunt of surprise left his maw as he watched another titan fall in the same fashion. So, these humans killed titans as well?
Rogue blinked, listening to the angry words of human tongue and threats from his kind. These flying humans, they slaughtered titans just as he did? Were they upset that someone dear to them was eaten too? Mad at their wall being broken through? Rogue tilted his head in thought. He had never seen the uniformed men with flowers or the ones with one horned deer upon their backs do anything of the sort. These flying humans were fascinating! They were amazing! They fought back!
He then flinched as a haunting thought hit him. Rogue's hand slithered to his nape in security. These humans killed titans instead of loafing around like the others – meaning that he was in danger. Although he was sentiment and had no drive or desire to harm a human, these could mistake him for being something that he was not. Still, he sympathized with them. They hated titans just as much as he did.
Suddenly, he heard a series of horrified screams, ones that were filled in fear and loss. Rogue abandoned his pondering and looked to see that the carnage had begun. A whimper escaped him as he saw a man's head ripped from his body by the teeth of a titan and another being smashed by a giant foot. Instantly, scenes from the year before began to replay in his mind –his humans being devoured without a care in the world. Rogue shook his head, his locks slapping his face as he tried to shove the memory back deep into his brain. Unfortunately, as he watched another flying human slide down a large esophagus, the memory floated back to the surface and reiterated over and over – the vision mental torture.
Rogue whined, his body trembling at the sight of more human bloodshed. He hated it. He hated it so much. Each human wail provoked him, pushed his vow front and center again – the burning brand to slaughter. His mind raced, his blood pumped with adrenaline. Anger was slowly overtaking fear of the uncertain as his whines morphed into growls.
Hange propelled herself as fast as she could away from a ten-meter's clumsy attempt to club her, landing with a hard thud onto a lone tree that stood in the open plane. Safe for the moment, she took in her surroundings. The snowy canvas was coated in abstract splatters of red as more of her comrades fell victim, screaming like banshees as they were devoured. They had been stupid. Careless even. They had veered off course from the safer route. Aside from the five titans that had been following close behind, they were ambushed by five more that unexpectedly appeared from multiple directions. They had been quickly overpowered; most of the new recruits suffering a violent death first. Not to mention, with the lack of a good amount of trees, they were forced to use the titans to anchor their hooks to maneuver. Hange felt more sweat bead up upon her face. They were doomed from the beginning of the hunt.
Suddenly, Mike joined her within the powdered branches of the tree. Titan blood steamed from his uniform as his chest heaved – eyes hooked to the grueling scene before him. Nanaba, another veteran soldier, landed next to him with a vexed and worn look on her face – just as panicked as she observed another Scout be bitten in half.
"There's too many." She breathed ruggedly. " I don't know how much longer we can last."
Mike was still, silent as he stared out into the plain. "Hange."
"Yes?" She queried, trying to keep her eyes away from the nightmare that was progressing further in front of them. As much as she liked titans, the sight of anyone falling prey to them always upset her, especially if the prey was someone she knew.
The man cleared is throat. "Nanaba is right. We are outnumbered and have too many fresh recruits to hold out. It would be in our best interest if we organized a retreat." Mike stopped abruptly, his nose flaring wildly and his eyes emerging from their usually mellow look. "Shit."
"What?" Hange asked, her voice catching in what she could not determine as excitement or fear.
His eyes narrowed. "It's another titan. A big one. It's coming our way fast." Mike swallowed. "Forget about the depots, our lives matter more." The man concluded, turning to give Hange a dead stare. "Sound the retreat. We have no other option."
Knowing what Mike had stated was true; she stood and fired a blue flair to the sky to signal their decision. Hange then began to project her voice so loud that she knew her throat would kill her in the morning – if she even had another one. Before she could force another command from her lips, her eyes spotted something upon the white horizon. Her body froze and her face fell in shock.
A massive figure, a fifteen-meter titan, was charging at full speed toward them. The thundering strides of the titan reverberated through the field as it came closer, making her heart hammer in her chest and a cold chill run down her spine.
Suddenly, the large titan veered a few degrees – and threw a punch so powerful into the nearest titan that the smaller specimen's head was smashed in completely. As the smaller titan fell, the fifteen-meter slid to a stop. The titan then pivoted abruptly on its heel, turning to a twelve-meter behind it to grasp its arms in a stronghold. Hange's mouth fell further as the titan hoisted the other into the air, slinging it down onto the ten meter that the massive titan had assaulted earlier. Blood exploded onto the white earth as the smaller titan was killed instantly. Before the twelve-meter could rise to its feet, the fifteen-meter planted its foot forcefully onto the titan's neck, crushing the nape into splintered bone. The behemoth then threw its head back and released an earsplitting roar that shook their surroundings and was unlike anything Hange or the Scouts had ever heard before.
Goose bumps sprouted all across her skin as the Section Commander gazed at the monster before them. To call it grand was an understatement. It was unlike any skinned titan she had ever seen. Powerful muscles made up its towering frame, expanding and contracting with each deep breath it drew. Long, dark brown hair hung like curtains to graze its shoulders and shelter the majority of its face – one that could summon nightmares. Its teeth were exposed and formatted into a ghoulish grin, going perfectly with its sharp facial features – a pointed hooked nose, prominent chin, and gaunt cheeks. Beneath the locks of the titan's hair, its eyes glowed a menacing green – possessing a gaze that could seemingly cut through anything or any soul. To Hange, the creature was beautiful, magnificent even. However the thing that shocked her most was the mysterious titan's actions.
"Did it just… kill its own kind?" Hange stuttered. "How is that… possible?" She spoke in a daze, the others around her in a similar state of disbelief. "What…"
The titan turned sharply and placed its frustrations onto a lanky thirteen-meter, snarling ferociously through its teeth as it grabbed its opponent. The Scouts, now the creature's audience, watched completely spellbound as the titan's muscular arm skillfully curved around the thirteen-meter's shoulder, grasping the misshaped head in a sturdy and inescapable hold. With a shove, the fifteen-meter forced it now titled victim to bend over, exposing the pitiful creature's naked neck. With another bellow of defiance, the titan plunged its hand into the nape, sharp nails penetrating deep into the creature's flesh. Without delay, the large tyrant then ripped the nape free, blood spraying like an aggressive rain.
Hange's heart pounded, accelerating phenomenally at the display. A smile crept onto her face as she observed the titan turn to examine the others within the area, its elfish ears flicking and shifting in the opposite direction the titan was looking, each moving independently to monitor foes behind it – the trait unique, animal like, predatory. The titan then sprang into action once more, delivering low sweeps and uppercuts with every opening it was given. For several minutes, the Scouting Legion watched the massacre in both fear and shock. The titan's display was grueling and gory, forcing the lunch up and out of several soldiers that waited in safety in the nearby brush. Crimson replaced white and rage driven roars vibrated the plain. The well-seasoned Scout members remained nearly emotionless, too consumed by shock to even speak or move as the titan proceeded to rip the limbs and organs from its current enemy. With every passing second, Hange felt her mouth drop further. Indeed, the beast was incredible. The way it moved, the way it fought was so precise, calculating, cold, and completely feral - but at the same time nearly human. She could only describe it as inconceivably brutal.
The titan suddenly spied another one of its foul kin, a twelve meter holding a fresh recruit in its hungry hand. As the creature raised the helpless man to its maw, the fifteen-meter titan released a deafening screech filled with resentment. The great being then flung itself forward at its new target, green eyes flashing quickly from the titan to the adolescent scout in its fingers before returning to the twelve meter. Every soldier watched in astonishment as the large titan grasped the other's wrist, inches away from the soldier, and wrapped its other free hand around the neck of its prey. The sound of breaking bone cut through the air as the fifteen-meter's vice like grip strengthened on the smaller titan's wrist, the twelve meter wailing in agony as its ulna and radius was crushed into fragments.
'Wait. Is it fighting the others for food?' Hange wondered as she kept her eyes glued to the immense titan. 'Or is it…
Before she could finish, a nearby titan had spotted the human in the yowling titan's hand. Like a fish after a meal, it mindlessly flung itself forward. However, the large titan was completely aware of the unwanted advance. Before the soldier was to become a snack, the fifteen-meter shifted slightly before the minuscule figure, offering its own bicep to the other titan's teeth. The humans remained further still as the green-eyed monster flinched slightly in pain from the massive bite. Unexpectedly, the large titan's face then expressed a look of cunning, a raised brow and what appeared to be a smirk as it snorted in annoyance – throwing the nearby soldiers into a state of awe once again.
'It expresses emotion in its face!' The scientist's mind screamed. 'It blocked the other titan's attack! Could it… could it really be…
The fifteen meter then swiftly threw out its leg in a powerful kick, hitting the titan that was latched onto its arm square in the abdomen – the force sending the creature to the ground and ripping the titan's own arm from its shoulder. However, the large titan took no notice. Like lightning, it released its hold on its opponent's neck and took ahold of its wrist again. With a solid jerk, the green-eyed titan forced the other titan's arm to bend in the completely wrong way, down towards the blood stained earth, and shattering its elbow. With another cry, the twelve-meter released its grip and let the new recruit tumble just a few inches down to the ground.
'No way. Is it really… protecting us?' Hange thought almost unreservedly as her eyes never removed from their target. "What the hell kind of titan is this?"
The large titan then roared again as it suddenly enclosed its jaws around the neck of the twelve meter, making nearly every man and woman jump at the sheer viciousness of the act as the titan's teeth sunk deeper into the flesh of the other's neck – blood beginning to run down to the crimson earth like a melting candle. With a vehement yank, the twelve-meter's head was violently ripped from its body, nearly making every Scout's stomach turn over. But the green-eyed titan's assault didn't stop. Again, it forced its teeth into what remained of the stump of a neck, gnawing into the nape and coating its monstrous face in the same red that stained the field. The giant then ripped out the spine and held it almost proudly in its maw, making many of the men in uniform pale, their skin draining into a shade of faint cream.
All then grew silent as the fifteen-meter monster glared daggers into its last foe, a surviving thirteen-meter with a crudely caricatured face. The atmosphere grew placid and tense as the two giants stood still. The green-eyed titan growled murderously, its pupils in a thin slit and ears pressed against its skull in anger. Bloody saliva dripped from its chin as the titan's gaze remained locked onto its target, never adverting to the stunned soldiers. The large titan then released another unworldly howl, daring its opponent to face death. To the Scout's amazement, the fifteen-meter remained in its aggressive stance– ready for a brawl but waiting for its foe to make a move in an intentionally mocking way. Suddenly, the thirteen-meter charged forward with a shrill yell, running almost awkwardly much like a toddler. The monstrous beast waited still, watching and analyzing as it prepared for an open window. Before any soul could blink, the large titan swung and clipped the other's jaw – the force making the deformed creature spin clumsily on its heels like a drunken man. With its enemy's back facing it, the green-eyed titan firmly planted its foot into the small of the other's back and braced its lanky arms in its firm grasp. In an almost effortless push, the smaller titan was cast onto the earth with relentless force. Hange watched, speechless as the muscular titan stole the arms from the other's body – the creature pausing a moment to hear its prey cry in agony, the sound pure music to the monster. The titan then forced its hands into the others's mouth, and pulled – the thirteen-meter's jaws stretching further than their limits. A sickening and nauseating sound of ripping flesh demanded many of the soldiers to turn their gaze as the head of the titan was torn completely in half. With a final punch to the nape, the thirteen-meter had been sent back to the hell that it had come from. The towering titan then rose upright and roared in sheer triumph.
The vast being's cry then died down to a deep rumble into its chest. It then grew quiet again except for the hiss of steaming flesh, rapid breathing from witnesses, and every pounding heart. Now that they were in the mists of a titan that had dispatched and slaughtered all others in its wake, fear settled deep past their skin and into their bones. They were now alone with an incredibly powerful creature that could potentially choose them as its next target. However, none retreated and no order was given. They just simply entered a state of confusion. Frozen in their worn boots.
The passionate Section Commander's face was the picture perfect description of flabbergasted and stunned. Her mouth hung open to its furthest extent and her eyes reflected the look of an owl – wide and unblinking. Hange's brain was rapidly building with thoughts, her sanity's dam nearly bursting. She then watched as the titan began to move, its right hand snaking up its burly shoulder to cradle its own nape in a gentle touch. At first, the scientist concluded that the titan was an incredibly bizarre abnormal that was only set on killing any titan, including itself – however, as the titan slowly looked up to meet eyes with the Scouts, the theory left her. This titan was something more. Something special.
Hange observed as the titan's hardened stare landed onto the fresh soldiers, making them squeal like pigs and cower - shutting their eyes to surrender to their fear as they turned away. Just as she was sure the titan was finally going to attack them, it simply let out a steamy huff and turned to the veterans and Hange to meet their gaze with its own. Now that the chaos had ceased and the beast remained still, with most of its hair out of its face, Hange could view its eyes clearly. Never before had she seen any pair of eyes more beautiful, not even on a human. Now that they weren't a solid green glow of anger and rage, they were a perfect shade of emerald with flecks of teal and even spots of gold. They were predatory, the cat like slit slowly reverting to a round pupil – looking so beastly yet human at the same time. The black outline surrounding the titan's crystal clear eyes only accented the glittering green orbs more profoundly – expressing a sense of mystery that just added to the speculation. The large titan then snorted, a translucent nictitating membrane sliding over its immersive eyes as it turned and disappeared into the thick steam, covering its nape as it thundered off across the field. With a chilling breeze, the steam cleared just in time for the baffled humans to see their unexpected savior vanish back into the forest.
For a long moment, everything was just as still as it had been until Hange's hold on her sanity finally gave way. The woman squealed loudly in excitement, catching every soldier's attention and upsetting several roosting birds up in the canopies of the nearby woodlands.
"HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AMAZING!" The enthusiastic scientist cheered as she excitedly jumped up and down upon the branch that she and a few of her comrades stood upon. Quickly seeing her reaction, a few soldiers took a step away for their well being as Hange laughed maniacally. " HE WAS SO BEAUTIFUL! SO POWERFUL!" She cackled like a hyena as she suddenly turned and grasped the collar of Molbit's uniform, the man instinctively backing away as much as he was allowed as Hange continued. "WE MUST GO AFTER HIM! I MUST CAPTURE HIM!" She hyperventilated. "LET'S GO GET THE TRAPS AND -
A firm hand then placed itself onto her shoulder, making the scientist pause in her enthusiastic episode to turn and come face to face with Mike.
"No, Hange." He muttered impassively, making her remain silent. "Not now at least. We have no way of holding our own against that titan with so many fresh faces. It's incredibly powerful, but most of all it appears to be intellectual. We need to return to headquarters and debrief this information to Levi and Erwin and go from there." He spoke seriously. "Hell I'm having doubts that even the most skilled can even handle him." Mike finished as he ordered the retreat.
As the shaken Scouts rounded up their horses and prepared to depart, Hange kept her gaze upon the trees where the magnificent creature had vanished – a cunning smile upon her face and goggles illuminating in the dull winter light. "Well now, I hope to see you soon my little intelligent titan."
The cove was serine and deathly quiet. Even in the winter it was mysterious. Although it wasn't as green, the overhanging branches forbid the blanket of snow from being spread. Only a lucky few flurries fell past the limbs and to the earth to decorate the cove in patches. It was ideal for life to continue. The exposed grass attracted deer like moths to candlelight that in turn sacrificed their meat to the hungry. During the cold months in titan territory, the cove protected its inhabitants in more ways than one.
Armin and Mikasa sat in waiting just outside the hollow tree. A small fire crowned with a roasting doe warmed the two children that had grown and matured much in the last hard year. They barely made any time for merriment; most of their days were now just focused on survival. Even with their gigantic ally, things were still complicated. Still difficult.
The blonde turned the spit a few more degrees to cook the doe further. In the last hour, their hunger had gotten the better of them. Unwilling to wait on Rogue's return, the two children took a small knife that had been salvaged and tied it to a limb, creating a makeshift spear. Mikasa, the braver of the two, had snuck upon the unsuspecting deer and with luck pierced the hide of a small female. Now they had calmed and took a small sense of pride to enjoy their kill. Armin stripped a slice of meat from the deer and nearly shoved it into his mouth, his face tightening with bliss as the flavor graced his tongue and settled into his empty belly, the organ pacifying with the solid offering. Mikasa too, engulfed the fresh meat in delight. Although they hated to admit it, it was the best thing they had eaten in quite some time.
"This is much better than the dried meat that we had." The girl spoke softly as she swallowed another piece of tender heaven. Armin watched as Mikasa then sighed and looked to the cove's entrance, her face falling in unease. "Do you – think Rogue's okay? He's been gone a while."
The boy bit his lip fretfully. "He should be. Rogue is probably looking for more food." Armin paused, glancing over at the stockpile that they had accumulated, the contents mostly just tools or things that the titan found amusing enough to give them as gifts. "It's not as easy for him now. Although he's been having luck lately, it takes him a good amount of time searching before he finds anything."
It then grew quiet between the two; their hands placing the meat back to their plates as the impending topic surfaced between them once again, something that the two had been discussing for the past few months. They had since made their decision, but were unsure of how and when to act.
"Do you…" Armin muttered as he stared at his scuffed shoes. "Do you think we should tell him today?" He asked softly, making the girl shift uneasily.
"I – think we should tell him on a better day." Mikasa dithered as she bit her cheek. "Later. There is a part of me wants to tell him now, but I don't want him to be upset and miserable for a year if he knows."
Armin found himself nodding in understanding, knowing exactly what she meant. "Yeah, it's better if we wait. Rogue has changed a lot in the last year. Although he still has his moments of innocence like the old days, but ever since the breach plus Carla and Dr. Jaeger's deaths he's been different. He's much more protective and serious. You can probably tell as well, but Rogue is still upset. He hides a lot of his emotions about what happened. Although he covers them up its still obvious, even the animals sense his resentment."
Mikasa dipped her head at his words. "You're right. I feel so sorry for him, Armin. I wish we could make him feel a little better. Carla and Grisha meant everything to him. They nurtured and raised him as their child. Now they are just a sad memory and he only has us." She paused, looking off to the side in thought. "Yes, it's best if we tell him another day."
The boy nodded in favor just as stones were characteristically dislodged from the entrance with Rogue's return. While the titan carefully descended down the slope, Armin and Mikasa stood and made their way to greet their companion. The titan then turned and placed a tired smile onto his grisly face – one that made the two children feel compassion for the creature, knowing that the expression was forced.
"Well you're a little late today aren't you?" Mika teased, trying to enlighten her vast friend.
Rogue responded with a joking huff as he kneeled to sit upon his calves. The titan then presented his findings with a hopeful grumble, his hands holding a few crates, odds and ends, and several old books. Rogue's green eyes awaited gratitude as he placed the items down for the two to examine. Armin then thanked the titan as usual and began to look through the spoils that Rogue had delivered. There were a few old blankets that he was thankful for, although the titan's heat easily defeated the warmth of a fire and was much cozier – the blanket would prove useful when Rogue was out on one of his 'walks'. As per usual, there were books. Surprisingly, they were about nature and guides as opposed to the many dictionaries and thesauruses that Rogue had brought back just because they were books with covers and pages. The thought of Rogue's innocence on the topic almost always brought a smile to the boy's face. A few times, the titan had wanted Armin to read the informative works to him, not wanting to disappoint, the blonde would always swap titles when the giant wasn't looking and continue in telling an actual story. After thumbing through the titles printed on the spines, Armin joined Mikasa in looking among the things that Rogue had obviously picked up for himself to add to his collection of sorts. There was a tainted brass candle holder, a ripped pillow with goose down spilling out – an item that made the two of them snicker, knowing that they had caught the titan several times playing with the feathers inside like an excited cat, and finally a pocket watch that didn't tick.
Rogue then lifted himself to his feet, toying with a cable that he had wrapped around his wrist for safekeeping. His footsteps vibrated their tiny frames as the titan then motioned towards his collection of oddities against his tree, set on adding the cable to his hoard. The boy and girl then turned to the crate that's lid was damaged by Rogue's hand, opening it to see what was on the menu for the next few weeks. As expected, there was bread - five dried loafs. However, the other food in the crate provoked the two to look at one another in puzzlement. Armin then turned to scrutinize the contents again. They seemed so familiar. The blonde thought for a moment, but then it hit him when he recalled the special military visit from school many years ago.
"Mikasa?" Armin spoke softly but just loud enough to gather her attention.
The girl's grey and nearly impassive eyes lifted from the crate to stare deeply into his, a flash of concern streaking within them. "Armin, are these what I think they are?" She questioned, her voice rising with her alarm.
"They're food rations. Only the military get them. They are pretty much different breads, fruits, and other things mixed together into a convenient bar. Food is expensive, so they started making these to save money plus they are easy to preserve."
Armin observed as Mikasa's brows rose in suspicion. "Military food rations? What are they doing out here in Wall Maria? Wait – the only military branch that's permitted in titan territory is –
"The Scouts." Armin finished, his eyes growing wider in panic. "They were known to have several safe houses outside the walls for long range scouting expeditions before the breach. Most likely they have done the same here inside Wall Maria. Mikasa, it makes since now. The amount of food in the last few weeks, the items he's brought back like the guidebooks and the cable he has… Mikasa, Rogue is stealing from the Scouts."
The girl's face fell at his conclusion; her 'motherly like' instincts towards the titan were making themselves present once again as she gave way to emotion. "Armin – why would… why would he –
"That's just it Mikasa. He doesn't know what he's doing and Rogue's oblivious to the fact." He frowned solemnly. "He probably thought they were just regular abandoned houses with left behind belongings. Rogue had no idea that he was going wrong. He was just trying to help us."
Mikasa then dipped her head. "I hope that they don't find out that it's been him Armin. They'll kill him thinking he's just another titan. Or they will experiment on him."
The boy sighed, his mind going back to their picnic with the Jaegers and the doctor's words. "It's just that…" He stuttered. "The people aren't ready yet for someone like him." Armin paused as he collected his thoughts and memories. "Maybe in time, but not now."
The girl then rose a finger to reply, but was interrupted by a loud and disgusted growl. Stupefied, the two children spun around to see that Rogue was crouched next to their fire with his back arched and muscles tense. At first, Armin concluded that the curiosity of the titan had gotten the better of him and he had stuck a finger into the flames, burning himself. However, that was not the case. Rogue's concerted gaze was latched onto the cooked doe. Gradually, the green eyes of the titan traveled to the two's stressed bodies, his livid stare making Armin's blood go frigid. Since the incident with Carla and Grisha, Rogue would sometimes let his feelings get the better of him when something upset him one way or the other. During these "episodes" as both he and Mikasa had taken to calling them, Rogue would throw a verbal tantrum of sorts – whining like a toddler about something seemingly simple.
The titan then let out a series of 'intelligent' grunts and snarls, an argument in gibberish all the while gesturing to the deer with a clawed finger. Rogue then sat roughly on his behind with a strong jet of steam exiting his teeth as he continued in quarreling in his variety of rumbles and growls. Armin blinked, trying to make out what his upset friend was trying to imply.
"I'm sorry Rogue." The boy began as kind and understanding as he could. "You were gone a while and we got hungry. There wasn't any food so –
"EerriennD!" The titan hissed as he gestured again at the doe. Rogue then pointed at the herd of deer near his lake, his eyes remaining on the two children before him. "EERRIeennD!" He nearly roared as he pointed back to himself.
Armin opened his mouth to reply, but Mikasa quickly intervened.
"The deer?" She stopped as she looked from the titan's intense glare to the peaceful herd. "Are they your friends Rogue?"
With her words, the titan retorted with a sharp nod, crossings his arms to expect an explanation. Rogue then pointed again to the doe on the spit before gesturing to his lipless maw, clacking his teeth before crossing his arms again.
"Oh, I understand now." Mikasa began once again. "You're mad at us for killing your friend."
Again, the titan nodded, letting out a gruff in disappointment.
"We're so sorry, Rogue. Like Armin said, we were hungry. As you know, humans need food to survive. Meat is food. Deer are meat along with fish and birds. If we didn't eat Rogue, we would grow very weak and die. Do you understand? You wouldn't want that would you?"
Rogue dithered a bit before letting out an apologetic and pitiful whine, ears drooping with his sorrowful face as he shook his head in refusal. He then looked up from the grass and emitted a weak smile in understanding. Then as routine with these episodes, Rogue lay into his belly and pressed his face into Mikasa, purring in forgiveness.
"Okay then Rogue." Armin began, receiving the titan's attention. "Let's make a deal. The deer in the cove are your friends right?"
The titan nodded, tilting his head in question.
"Good, now you know the stuff you've been bringing back lately? The things like the food?" Armin paused, making sure the creature was acknowledging him, the titan nodding at every statement. "See those actually do belong to someone that's still using them. Most likely they are probably a little upset that you took them by now. Those things belong to the Survey Corps, Rogue. So as much as you want to, don't touch them. Promise us Rogue; don't take anything from those places you got the stuff from again, okay?"
The titan's eyes widened at the boy's information. Rogue then respond with a vigorous nod and waited almost querulously for Armin to continue.
"Alright, now in turn, since only the deer here are your friends, to get food we have to hunt. Every week or so, you need to take us out and hunt for us or help us hunt."
At the boy's words, both the titan and Mikasa looked to him in shock. Quickly, the dark-haired girl held up her hand in refusal.
"Armin, that's insane! The other titan's –
"Hold on Mikasa. I don't think we'll be in any sort of danger on this one. Did you notice how after two weeks of titans scratching against the perimeter of the cove they stopped?" Armin insisted as he watched his friend recognize him. "We sleep with Rogue every night so his scent has rubbed off on us. Even when we bathe, the scent stays because it's everywhere here in the cove. Granted, I think it took a while for the scent to attach itself to us. Pretty much, in simple terms, the titans think we're titans. As long as we stay on Rogue, they can't touch us!"
It was an intense moment before Mikasa finally nodded in agreement, but Rogue was hesitant, looking off to the side to stare long and hard at the brittle grass before finally nodding a feeble reply. The two then watched as Rogue leaned into them again, his tongue giving them a gentle lick – one that Armin and Mikasa had recognized as a sign of trust from the gentle giant. However, like the titan's other expressions – the gesture seemed like it was almost forced.
The cove had pacified in the hour that had passed. Darkness was beginning to settle on the land, brought forth by the short days of the winter. The titan sat quietly by his pond, facing away from the water as his little one, Mikasa, performed the task of bathing. Over time, his little ones had perfected the unworldly art – even in the cold months. Rogue was always to stick his foot in the water, heating it to a comfortable temperature before his tiny companions would rid themselves of their clothing and climb in. He found the practice odd, but even more bizarre to see his little ones without their garbs. The first attempt that the two had made to bathe had baffled the titan. He could not have been more confused. Their bodies looked so much like his, except for a few tiny details. When his little ones were in the water, he found himself staring intently at their forms. He himself was completely bare whereas Armin possessed a fleshy bit between his legs while Mikasa seemed similar to him but was still significantly different. His little ones chests had a feature that he also lacked as well, two spots that he was unable to discern. Armin and Mikasa also had a tiny hole in the middle of their bellies while it was nowhere to be found upon his frame. That day he had also learned the hard way that humans don't like to be watched while bathing. When he attempted to question the boy and girl with as few gestures onto himself and them, his little ones strongly refused and made him look away. It was only later when Armin explained the hidden differences of men and women to Rogue. When then titan wanted to know why they had them and he did not, his little one only laughed and stated that it wasn't a thing that was necessary for a titan to know. Since then, Rogue never looked at his little ones during the task of bathing.
The titan kept to himself, thinking of the deal he had made with his little ones and the flying uniformed men that he had seen earlier. He strongly did not like the deal. Rogue was completely unsure if his scent was really keeping the titans at bay. Maybe it was, or perhaps it was the smell of his anger radiating off of him and clinging to his surroundings. He couldn't say for sure, but his little ones were still at risk if he took them outside. Rogue sighed quietly, hanging his head a bit. The titan knew that his little ones were eager to break free of the cove for even a small amount of time. The two were all he had left. They were the last of his family.
Family. Rogue smiled softly at the word. Although mismatched, he was so happy to be a part of one. It was little and broken, but was still good. Better than nothing. The titan swallowed back a wad of anxiety. He wanted to protect his little ones and provide for them with everything he had, but he wanted them to be happy all the same. Still, he could not shake the unease that clung to him like sap.
Apart from the deal, there was the matter of the flying humans. They were different from the other uniformed men. They hated his kind just as he did and were brave enough to face them – even to their deaths. Rogue had no idea what had come over him when he had seen the humans outnumbered, but the impulse to do something of aid had overwhelmed him. If his little ones had known this, most likely they wouldn't be happy with him. In fact, in the year that had passed, Rogue had never given any indication to his little ones about his self imposed mission to slaughter every titan he came across. Knowing how much his little ones and his humans had warned him about getting too close the uniformed men, Rogue decided that he would keep the flying humans a secret as well – at least until he knew more about them for the sake of his little ones' worry.
The titan then attempted to distract himself as he prodded a few of the belongings that he had found hours before along with a few books that he had seized. A slightly aggravated squeak sounded through his teeth as he looked at the objects. It didn't seem like the 'Survey Corps' that his little ones mentioned were using these things – their only purpose gathering dust. Although it was immoral, Rogue didn't feel bad about what he had done the more he thought about it. He and his little ones were actually using the objects or eating the food – they clearly weren't. However, if his little ones did not want him taking from the houses that smelled of yeast, then he wouldn't. Of course, they said nothing about the other human dwellings. Maybe one day he would have a bit of luck there.
As his little one continued to bathe, Rogue began to fish through the items further. There was the fluffy cloth object that he wanted to tear open again, the little bird feathers inside always brought forth merriment. It amazed him so how light the dainty things were and how they seemingly floated in midair and scattered with a swipe of his hand. As much as he wanted to give in to his childish demeanor that he amazingly still had, Rogue decided to wait and save it for later – he couldn't do much while serving as the designated heater. Instead, the titan turned to the few books that he had brought over to entertain him. Rogue then gently flipped the first open, expecting to see images of animals or beautiful skies, but instead was greeted with a mass of human words with no pictures to accompany them. The titan grunted in disappointment and shoved the book away. The next book fared no better - no pictures like the first so it too, was cast aside. The third book was a book for human young, his favorites for he didn't need to read words to understand them. Armin had told him it was called 'The Ugly Duckling' and had shared the tale with him before. Rogue had felt odd when his little one had read it. Although it had a happy ending, the titan couldn't help but relate to the story. He was always the odd one out with everything – the ugly duckling in his own world. Not willing to look upon the pictures again, Rogue pushed the book away, grumbling once more in distaste.
The last book in the pile was one of the few that he had picked up that morning. He hadn't had the chance to see the contents, so Rogue quickly lifted the cover to expose the pages. The titan's pointed ears quickly pricked forward in interest as his pupils dilated with curiosity. It wasn't a series of colorful animals or a wall of text but a sequence of sketches depicting two humans fighting. Rogue rumbled softly as he flipped through the cosmetically similar pages, looking in awe at the two men depicted over and over that were throwing their fists or kicking at one another. The fifteen-meter creature continued the flip through the pages, forward and back as he scrutinized the drawings. The titan then recalled the times he had spent with Carla and how she taught him how to speak. Rogue's ears flickered again, realizing that the book was showing instructions – showing how to fight.
Rogue tilted his head, some of the moves he seemed to know already like punching which felt natural to him when engaging his own kind. The book however, showed and demonstrated them in greater detail. Entranced in the depictions, Rogue slowly lifted his own fists before his face, mirroring a common stance that the men made. A smile crept onto the titan's mystified and grim face. With his fists held before him, he felt ready for whatever could be thrown at him. Almost invincible. Rogue hummed in pleasure. Perhaps this find would greatly benefit him on his mission to defeat his enemy.
"Rogue?" His little one called from the pond, the sounds of her maneuvering from the water hitting his ears. Instinctively and quickly, the titan lowered his arms and shoved the fighting book beneath his knee before opening The Ugly Duckling before him. Mikasa then rounded his side, wrapped in tattered cloth to hide her naked skin with a tender grin upon her face. Rogue then gave his full attention to his little one from his 'innocent observation' – giving a friendly gurgle in greeting. "Are you looking at that book again?" She asked kindly.
Rogue gave a quick nod, hoping the fact that he was lying wasn't obvious. To his relief, his little one only smiled.
"It's good to see you happy, Rogue. Sometimes I worry about you." Mikasa continued as she gathered her clothes. "It's getting colder and I don't know about you, but I'm tired." The girl chuckled as she looked at the blonde who was in repose by the small fire. "Look's like Armin gave in to sleep already. I'm going to get dressed and then we can settle down for the evening."
Rogue dipped his head in agreement as he rose to his feet to prepare and fluff the leaves in his nest. Within minutes, he lay in the hollow with his little ones nestled to his side like tiny pups. His mouth formatted into an easy smile as he watched Mikasa shift to get comfortable, pressing herself as much as she could into the titan's warm flesh to escape the frigid night.
"Goodnight Rogue." Mikasa whispered with great fatigue as her eyes descended shut, matching his other little one's current state.
"NNNiiihhtT." The titan spoke as softly as he could in reply. For several minutes, Rogue watched his little ones descend further into their dreams before pulling out the fighting book from the leaves. Eager to absorb more information, the titan opened the book and continued to scrutinize it with the aid of the small dying fire. Incredibly enthusiastic at the topics presented, Rogue decided he would look at the book as long as his exhausted body would allow.
Corporal Levi sat quietly in his quarters, soaking in a rare bit of peace that was often hard to come by in the Scout's headquarters – let alone the unforgiving world. In the last few hours since he had returned from the mandatory meeting in what he called 'God awful Wall Sina,' he tended to his room and enforced the few soldiers that still remained to clean the castle from top to bottom that the regiment performed their operations out of. The stout man then began to thumb through recent reports upon his freshly wiped desk with his scowl still fixed on his face. Levi's icy eyes narrowed a bit further as he scanned the information written upon the documents. In the past two weeks, one of the main issues was the mysterious raids upon the safe houses. Nothing added up no matter how many times he and Erwin had dissected the clues. Ever since the first accounts, the news had spread like wildfire within the regiment. Every soldier was now bickering about possibilities – but everything seemed overblown out of proportion. The facts just pointed to wildlife. Still, the Corporal could not help but feel that there were too many loose ends to the puzzle. Something was not adding up.
Suddenly, a commotion echoed throughout the hall just outside the door. An aggravated sigh left Levi, as he was familiar enough with the situation to know what was about to happen and who was going to charge into his quarters flapping their joules. The man took one last look around the room that was neat and orderly beyond its limits, soaking in the last bit of tranquility before the ever-ecstatic Hange Zoe barreled into his well kempt quarters.
"Levi! Levi! LEVI!" The woman paraded loudly as she bolted to his desk, knocking over belongings as her weight was thrown upon it. Instinctively, the man recoiled in his chair, holding his nose to keep the smell of the scientist's tainted breath from reaching his nostrils as the overly afire Hange proceeded. "You need to hear my report from today's expedition! Levi, the most amazing thing happened!" She pressed on, eyes nearly as wide as grapefruits.
"Hange." The man grumbled beneath his breath, scowl growing darker. "First off, your breath smells like shit so a few feet between you and me would be nice. Second, if you're reporting on the resent investigation of the storehouse raids, please just write a document on your findings and give it to me later." He uttered. "I've had a long day with the idiots in Sina and I really don't feel like listening to you." Levi finished sternly, hoping that the woman would actually listen to him for once and not disregard his attitude.
To his dismay, Hange only laughed. "The raids? We found nothing that could lead us to any culprit, but something absolutely INCREDIBLE happened!" She cheered, nearly twirling on her toes.
"Listen." Levi growled as he attempted to drill his displeasure into Hange's enthusiasm. "Whatever it is it can –
"Listen to what she has to say, Levi."
The Corporal's gaze then traveled to Section Commander Mike as he entered the room and sealed the door behind him. Levi's face relaxed slightly, in all of Hange's intrusions on titans and their supposed bullshit, Mike had never come to side with her. Although he was tired, the fact that Hange was receiving support was probably worth him listening.
"I've never seen anything like this before, Levi." Mike continued, his tone low and serious. "I mean it."
The Lance Corporal raised a brow in astonishment. It had to be a serious matter. "This must be important if it can't wait. Proceed, but try to keep a lid on your excitement." Levi granted after little deliberation.
Hange smiled widely at his blessing, trembling in her shoes. "Okay! I'll get straight to the point because I can't hold it in any longer! Mike and I's squads encountered what may be a new breed of titan!"
Levi sat up at her words. New breed? Like the Colossal and Armored? This was the last thing he wanted to hear. "What do you mean a new species?" He demanded. "Is it similar to the two skinless titans seen at the breach?"
Mike immediately shook his head. "No. This one was far different – in fact its behavior was far from that of any regular or abnormal titan. In all my years of encountering them – this one was quite a shock in both looks and temperament. Like I said, I've never seen anything like it."
Levi's face relaxed further at the tall man's words, his sudden change provoking another cackling laugh from Hange.
"Looks like we've peeked your interest Levi! As I was saying, it all started when we were ambushed by a group of about ten normals in the fields. We were quickly outmatched with the lack of trees, the number of fresh soldiers, and of course the amount of titans that hindered toward the larger variety. Just when we were about to retreat to Wall Rose, out of nowhere this fifteen-meter behemoth charges right for us at full speed." Hange continued with her elation ever growing. "Just when we thought every single one of us was on death's door, this titan veered and ATTACKED ITS OWN KIND. KILLING THEM."
Levi's eyes widened at the news, something that most of the Scouts had never witnessed from the man. "It… what?"
"That's right! It slaughtered the other titans! Holy hell it was INCREDIBLE" The scientist giggled madly.
"Are you sure this titan just wasn't another abnormal, Hange? This action had to be some sort of defect or –
"No Levi! This… this was intentional! This amazing creature killed its own kind because it wanted to! Not because it was hardwired to do so! Of course, the other thing that proves this titan is unique is by its looks! He's an absolutely beautiful and perfect specimen!" Hange informed passionately as she began to perform more gestures. "This titan had skin like the others, but instead of fat and frail like most fifteen-meters – this guy was solid muscle! He was so strong that he could pick up another titan and throw it with ease! Like it was a fucking walk in the park for him!" Hange informed as she flexed her relatively thin arms. "His hands and feet had sharp nails that could cut flesh into ribbons. But its face, oh its face! The titan had long, messy, and nearly black hair." The woman continued as she gestured to her mouth, pulling back her cheeks to reveal all of her unbrushed teeth. "His mouth lacked lips but was serrated with two rows of teeth - perfect for biting and ripping off chunks of meat!" Hange continued as she placed her hands onto her ears and molded the cartilage into a point. "The titan's ears were unbelievable! They were long and tapered like an elf's, and could also move together or independently like an animal's!" She nearly squealed. "His roars were so loud that they vibrated the earth and our bones, but the best part Levi, was the titan's eyes! They were like crystal clear gems that were an enchanting shade of green and outlined in black like a fox's. They looked feral at times, glowing emerald with the pupil slit like a cat's in anger. However, they also looked so human when the titan calmed at a point, its pupils reverting back to a rounded appearance. Not to mention, they had a third eyelid!" Hange paused as she took a breather, worn from barely stopping in her speech.
Levi remained unspoken. He hated to admit, but he was stunned – and nothing surprised him much anymore. Before he could reply, Mike cleared his throat to speak up once again.
"Of course, the titan's looks and the fact that it killed off other titans wasn't the thing that shocked our squads. From what Hange and I were able to discern from our subject after it killed the titans and during its rampage, we came to a certain conclusion that mankind had shoved away in a closet long ago."
The Corporal leaned forward in his chair; his interest peaked. This new breed was already strange enough, what else was there to know about it? Could there really be more to this monster? "What did you find out?" Levi spoke simply, keeping a lid on his concern.
The woman bounced slightly on her heels as she grinned from ear to ear. "He's intelligent!"
Levi nearly rose from his seat at the words. "Intelligent? A – deviant type titan?" He spoke, utilizing a term that had been thrown around, a classification that was to be used if such a titan was ever discovered. "Tell me. What makes you think that this titan has intellect?"
"Well, for starters, it was the way that this titan killed its own kind. He wasn't just recklessly going at them. With each move this guy made to slaughter, he had to think – he had to strategize how to defeat his foe! And he fucking did it spectacularly! When the other titans fell at his feet and he was the soul victor, the titan made eye contact with us!"
"But Hange, everyone here has made eye contact with –
"No Levi! I mean REAL eye contact. This titan looked right at us waiting for a reaction and observing ours. When the titan received no response except fear from the new recruits, he turned to Mike and I and looked specifically into the most expressive part of anyone's face." Hange paused as she stared off into the distance. "Those green pools held so much intellect that it wasn't even funny. It was like I was looking into the eyes of a human instead of a monster." She trailed off in thought.
"However," Mike began as he gathered the two's attention once again. "The biggest clue that this titan was smart was the fact that it knew exactly about the titans' weak spots. It killed each one of those bastards by ripping out, biting, or crushing the nape of the neck. Levi, when it was staring at us, its own hand was protecting its own weak spot. He knew what we could do to him. He knew he was dead if he was struck there. Hell, even when it was retreating back into the forest, it was still covering its nape."
"Mike's right." Hange beamed. "Our new titan not only has no reaction to us and a seething hatred for his own kind, but he has human like intelligence. Amazing isn't it!"
Corporal Levi leaned onto his desk, resting his face in his hands as he soaked the information in. Several minutes of silence ticked by, feeling like hours as the man pondered. Suddenly, a thought crossed his mind – an old rumor that he had heard the time of the breach. 'Could it really be true? Could that stupid story really be fact?' Levi wondered as his fingers clenched tighter.
"Hange." He began sternly as he slowly met the two Section Commander's gazes. "Did you say that this titan had pointed ears, no lips, and green eyes, correct?"
The scientist and Mike looked at one another before turning back to question his words. "Yes. Why do you ask, Corporal?"
Levi's steely eyes went to the surface of his desk, watching the dancing wood grain. "A year ago, during the breach, there was a rumor – a story that the Garrison soldiers passed around with one another." He paused, biting the tip of his nail. "At first I thought it was just a bunch of shit that some drunken soldiers made up. But with your expedition and this occurrence – I don't think that was myth."
The two blinked in disbelief. "What story?"
"I believe they called it – 'The Legend of the Rogue Titan." Levi began. "Although it's not really a full story – just observations and speculations from the Garrison."
"Rogue Titan?" Hange cut in, her eyes wide in expectancy like a child being read a bedtime story. Levi nodded in return.
"Yes, they dubbed it that title when they saw its strange behavior and rebellion. The soldiers say that it came from nowhere almost." The short man continued as he poured himself a cup of black tea. "They spoke of how it had pointed ears and wide, lipless, smiling jaws, and a proportionate and powerful frame unlike any regular titan that they had seen scratching the walls for decades. There are accounts that it just walked by the fleeing citizens, almost careful to not step on them. Some say they saw The Rogue maul another titan so viciously that its body was torn completely apart before the nape was ripped clean." Levi paused as he sipped his tea. "They say that the titan's roars rivaled the thunder and trembled the earth – the beast bellowing in anger and pleasure as it spilled its kind's blood. Hell, there are even stories of how it flipped the Garrison soldiers off as they fired their cannons at it, but of course that was probably the alcohol talking." Levi paused, suddenly placing his tea back to his desk. " My point is, perhaps most of these allegations and rumors were true and you and your squads saw what could have been The Rogue Titan of legend – or rather in the flesh."
All was quiet for a moment before Hange jumped from her chair and pounced for Levi's desk, once again getting too close for comfort as she squealed in excitement.
"YES! We need to capture him! Oh the experiments I could run on The Rogue! Maybe he's friendly! Maybe he has human level intelligence! Oh what if he could help –
"Hange!" Levi chided as he suddenly rose from his seat. "That's enough. At this time, that's not likely to happen. In fact, it's stupid. It's hard enough to capture a five-meter normal. Now you want to go after a fifteen-meter titan with intelligence that could match the three of sitting here. It's like signing your own death certificate."
The woman's thrilled demeanor changed instantly at his words, face falling as she sunk back into her chair. Just as Levi thought the scientist was finished, Hange perked up once again. "At least until we know more about him!"
Levi raised a brow in question as the two men looked at the seemingly crazed woman in wonder. "What do you mean?" The Corporal demanded as he crossed his arms, deep scowl returning as he waited for the woman to explain – to speak in a language that he could understand at least.
"If we can't get any blessing from Erwin to capture him, then maybe we could get the permission to study him in his natural habitat! We could watch how he acts, interacts, and hunts! From these observations we could determine just how intelligent he is! Then from there, Erwin can decide if we can capture the legendary Rogue Titan!" Hange explained enthusiastically as she once again rocked on her heels with her eyes wide as the frames of her glasses.
"You know Corporal," Mike began after an awkward silence. "It's actually not a bad idea. Who knows, perhaps this titan can help us find a way to defeat our enemy once and for all."
Levi remained impassive as he stood to look out his intricate window, eyes watching the new recruits training below while his brain was hung in debate. Finally, after several tense moments, his mind and admittedly his curiosity forced a decision. "I'll send a request for approval to Commander Erwin. Of course," He pressed on as he turned to the scientist. "I can't promise anything. It's not my decision to make."
Hange then lifted herself several inches into the air with a celebratory jump. "Whoo! YES! Thank you Corporal Levi! I'm sure if this is approved that you will be glad you agreed!" She thanked with the traditional military salute.
The man then watched as the two prepared to leave. As Mike vanished into the hallway, Hange unexpectedly paused before the door. Levi watched in dread as she shut the door softly as made her way to the desk. What else could she possibly bother him with?
"Levi?" The woman asked, her tone surprisingly tame.
He let out a reluctant sigh. "What now?"
"I was debating whether or not to share this with you." Hange continued, suddenly serious with no trace of her ungodly enthusiasm that she possessed but mere minutes before. "When I – looked into that titan's eyes, I saw the thing that made me want to study him on the spot."
Levi tilted his head in question. "What was that?"
The scientist looked to her boots, a worried expression flashed across her face before returning her gaze back to him. "Well, when our eyes met, I saw not only anger and rage, but what I could only perceive as virtuousness and defeat. He – looked like he had lost something – something dear to him that he couldn't get back. Of course, I may just be over-analyzing things – but I couldn't help but feel sympathy for him."
The man blinked in disbelief at her statement. "You think he had feelings as well?"
Hange nodded gradually. "I think so, but then again I could have just imagined it." She paused before smiling for the umpteenth time. "I guess we could find out though! See you at dinner Corporal." Hange finished with a second salute and headed out the door, leaving Levi alone in his quarters.
For a pensive moment, he remained standing in his shoes before seating himself once again at his desk. Levi took a moment to reflect on what had just been exposed before grabbing a piece of blank parchment and began to write. The man sighed. What were they getting themselves into?