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The 100: Humanity's Last Hope

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There was nothing more terrifying than knowing you’re being sent to your death. The worst feeling in the world were the thoughts ‘we are all about to die'. One by one, they were escorted by guards from their cells to a pod. This was the largest pod. Capable of containing up to one hundred passengers. It was designed just for this purpose. It had to have been. The council must have known about the Ark’s malformities for so long and had their scientists and engineers work nonstop to have this working at this time.

Bright blonde hair in a disheveled state suddenly halted and took a step backwards directly before they’d made it to the doors of the pod. So many others were already inside and were being strapped in their seats by a safety belt. Some of them were too petrified to put up a fight and the ones that were, were giving a light sedative.

“You going to be a problem, blondie?!” One of the guards grabbed him by the back of his shirt and another began to reveal a syringe.

Blue eyes widened and a gasp was emitted. “N-no sir! S-sorry..” Clenching his jaw, he maneuvered around the man with the needle with the help of his own guard. Then he was shoved down into a seat and removed of his temporary handcuffs. The man began securing him to the chair he was sitting in.

“If you move, it’ll be lights out for you.” The guard snapped at him and finished clicking his belt.

Armin was trembling and as he took in a deep breath, he realized his straps were too tight. This was going to be mighty uncomfortable. Then again, he was probably going to die so why did it matter. All he could do right now is think about what he did. The things that got him into this mess – this situation. This certainly wasn’t the way he wanted to see the world. Not under these circumstances. Not alone. Not without his friends. Thinking of them helped his anxiety and then he began to hear their voices.

He opened his eyes, not realizing he’d closed them to try and suppress what was going on around him. His friends, was he seeing things? Why were they here too? He desperately wanted to call out to them but couldn’t out of fear of drawing the guards over to him. So, he watched with a confused and panicked expression as his best friend, Eren, was throwing a fit and screaming that he was going to kill them all.

The girl of the two suddenly began to panic when she realized she wasn’t going to be next to the other as the row was filled. “No, please sir! I have to be with him!” She shouted and Armin began to feel sick as he watched her struggle. They began yelling at her, trying not to use any sedatives because truthfully, they didn’t want to waste any supplies on what might be a worthless journey anyway. What if they didn’t even make it there? That’s what Armin was worried about.

Forcing Mikasa into a seat they explained, “Look, you’re all going to the same place anyway. Give it a rest, miss thing.” She looked over her shoulder to see what they were doing with him, but she lost sight. It was a good thing too that she didn’t see them sedate Eren just in case it triggered her. She might have got one as well.

“If any of you take off your restraints think about how hard you’ll hit once you land!” The seemingly commander of the operation stated through the microphone. The guards began leaving and there was a lot of noise like something was powering up. The man continued, “You have all been given a second chance. Think of yourself as humanity’s last hope. I wish you the best of luck.” There was some static and his voice was gone.

Suddenly, there was a darkness like no other. Was he never going to see the ocean with his own eyes? Sure, this was the absolute best chance he was going to get but he couldn’t escape his negative thoughts. Feeling overwhelmed, he pinched his eyes closed and a tear ran down his cheek. His chest hurt from worry and he felt like vomiting. But in his last moments, could he please only have memories of his friends. His best friends. The pod began to shake and what was one tear was now several. Their descent proved to be rougher and the violent shaking had Armin blacking out as their ride entered Earth’s atmosphere for the first time in 100 years.

One hundred years. Yes, that’s right. It’s been a hundred years since a nuclear apocalypse corrupted Earth, leaving the planet simmering in radiation. There had been preparations before the bombs went off. The Ark, a massive spaceship that was made up of twelve separate space station districts, held the survivors. The last of mankind. The reason for this operation? The Ark was dying. It no longer had the materials to sustain life. They would run out of oxygen in less than a year. That’s why this task was crucial. If Earth was inhabitable again, humanity had a chance at surviving.

However, it was unlikely they would survive. That was the last thing Armin remembered before he suddenly heard a ringing in his ears. He parted his eyes ever so slightly at the voices of his fellow passengers. Commotion is more of what it was. Shouts of confusion and screams of terror became louder as he came to. He must have passed out at some point if he was waking up. Oh, he was waking up. Reality hit him hard as he realized that he was alive. It seemed like most of them were. A few of the passengers had already untangled themselves from their straps and were helping others get free. Others would frantically shake their friends that weren’t moving. Those that had irresponsibly taken their safety harness off from not caring or out of panic. Probably a dozen had passed.

As his eyes saw the blood he shuddered and began to get out of his seat, trembling. Although his knees gave, and he fell on his hands. He sat back for a moment and held his head, taking deep breaths. It wasn’t exactly a smooth landing and headaches were probably expected from the lot. His eyes had been pinched for a moment as he recuperated and as he reopened them, he noticed a very peculiar thing. Eye floaters. His gaze lifted to one of the circular windows and he gathered the minimum amount of strength needed to stand.

The light was so bright. He stepped towards it, bumping into a few people that were in the midst of all the talking and crying that was taking place. As he peered outside, he saw scenery he never thought he’d see. Scenery that he didn’t think existed anymore. “I… I don’t understand.” He muttered under his breath. The world was green. It was more like he’d expected a burning world. Darkness and fire. He was absolutely mesmerized, that is, until he remembered his friends. He turned towards where he remembered them being and saw Mikasa. She was awake but there was something wrong.

“Eren! Can you hear me? Wake up!” She yelled at him from down the row. Her safety belt was jammed, preventing her from reaching Eren. Her gaze was fixated on her binds as she tried desperately to release herself. Eventually, tears started to form out of frustration. When another pair of hands reached down to assist her, she looked up to meet her blonde friend’s eyes. “Armin. Oh my god. Are you alright? I’m so sorry we couldn’t communicate with you during…” Her voice trailed off.

He smiled a bit as he helped her get untangled. “Don’t worry about that. I’m okay. Let’s check on Eren first.” He meant basically before they discuss anything else, like how and why they were also aboard the pod. They pushed their way through the frantic crowd. Armin reached to feel for a pulse while Mikasa was preoccupied with Eren’s chair. “Eren, hey, can you open your eyes?” Mikasa cradled Eren’s hand with both of hers while she let Armin do the talking. “And no, you’re not dead. We made it. We actually made it.” It would be normal if the other were drowsy coming out of a tranquilizer. Armin hoped he was listening, and he lowered his voice, getting a little closer to him and Mikasa. “But we aren’t safe yet. No one has tried to open the doors. I know we can’t stay in here forever but what if the air is toxic?” That’s what he was worried about, but he also had a ray of hope because of how beautiful things appeared on the other side of the glass. If plants were growing, then perhaps things were okay.

Eren slowly opened his eyes, blinking several times and trying to get an understanding of what Armin was saying. “Armin? Mikasa? What happened? Where’s…” He paused as he recalled what had happened prior to being forced onto the pod with the others. That’s right, they were forced. The small mistakes that had been made upon the Ark is what landed them here. Well, the three of them had petty mistakes made. He couldn’t speak for the others. Now they were here, and they must deal with the situation. “We’re on Earth?” He looked in Armin’s direction and received a single nod from him. “Then lets get out of here.” He said with an exhale.

Mikasa was relieved when Eren started to come to and became more aware of their situation. “Easy.” She said as the other hadn’t acquired his balance yet when he began to stand, her hands lending him support. Words couldn’t describe how much she worried about him. Even more so now that they were on new territory – a planet. If they made it out of this pod alive, who knew what kinds of horrors were lurking in the wilderness or what remained of this world.

People were starting to become antsy the longer they were inside the pod. It spread to some of the other passengers. Armin knew they were in trouble. If order wasn’t kept, chaos would erupt, and it could put them all at risk. He gasped and leapt up from where he was knelt, but it was like a flood of people that crowded around the exit where the blinding sunlight poured in. Someone opened the door to the pod. Some of them were more cautious than others. Would it burn their skin? They exchanged glances and whispers while others watched the young woman who gambled their lives on being able to breathe, run around outside. She hadn’t started suffocating and didn’t seem to have any blistering form on her skin from what everyone could tell. She’d be screaming in pain most likely if that were happening.

Armin froze in fear. Now they were here and what were they supposed to do? He hadn’t even realized he’d been holding his breath until his lungs forced him to causing him to shudder and pant for a few seconds. He held out his arms and lowered his gaze as if he were waiting for his skin to start melting right off his bones. His heartbeat pounded against his chest and he had spaced out until he heard someone scream. He jerked his head up to look that direction, but it ended up being nothing. Some of the other passengers were roughhousing in front of the pod, dirt and dead leaves that the pod had burnt was being kicked up and flung everywhere. It was as if they were celebrating. That thought had Armin feeling relieved because maybe they were going to be okay and live. Only, what was their objective now?

A subtle smile curved at the blonde’s lips as he calmed down. Then he turned to Eren and gave him a single nod. “Although, there’s something I want to look at before leaving.” He looked over his shoulder at a panel and a wide, cracked screen that was by the open door. “We hit really hard, but I want to see for myself that we have no way to communicate with the Ark. Just to confirm that it’s unfixable.” Because he was already assuming by the looks of things. “The thing is, I heard a lot of things while I was sitting in my cell. One of which that when we landed – if we landed, we were supposed to have communication access to the Ark. They were…” He swallowed nervously. “Going to be giving us instructions on where to go. What I heard was, there was a government facility that was built to withstand bombs and explosions. We were supposed to be airdropped within so many miles of it. Who knows where we really ended up though or if any of the buildings like that still exist?” Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the panel and began lifting the cover up. “Why don’t you both take a look around outside and I’ll be there shortly. This shouldn’t take long. It will either work or it won’t.” Sparks sprinkled out of the machine as Armin pulled the cover off and dropped it to the side.

Mikasa’s face wore a bit of a surprised expression. She was trying to take in what Armin had just explained but it was more than a little confusing and terrifying. Because now, what were they to do if they had no plan and nowhere to go? Would they die here anyway? She clenched her jaw in thought and continued to support Eren until he moved out of her reach like he would usually do at some point. They were not dying here today or tomorrow. She was determined to keep both Eren and Armin safe. Her whole life dedicated specifically to Eren. He was special beyond anything else to her.

Eren’s eyes were wide with worry. If what Armin was saying is true, that means that the Ark really did expect them to survive and even had a thought-out plan for them. He didn’t shake Mikasa off just yet and accepted her support since he wasn’t feeling too well right then. “No.” He said to Armin, now stepping forward with Mikasa and walking towards the blonde. “We’re going to experience it together. The first look upon Earth.” He smiled calmly to his best friend, resulting in the other returning a friendly smile.

“Alright then, give me a second.” Armin tried multiple ways to boot up the system, but it seemed to be a negative. Even he only had limited knowledge of this kind of technology. He looked back at the other two and shrugged. “No good. Looks like we really are on our own. At least for now. I guess it’s possible they could find another way to communicate with us but that would probably require us to stay here and I’m not sure how long we can wait without any food or water.”

Eren made a little growling sound. “Who cares?”

“Eren?” Armin questioned.

He held out his wrist to remind both Armin and Mikasa. “We still are not free. It’s bullshit. After everything they’ve done…” He was getting angry quickly and Mikasa was showing her usual concern.

“Calm down. Don’t waste your energy thinking about them.” She tried to get to him.

“I can’t.” Eren replied, clenching his fists. “You didn’t see it, Mikasa.” His eyes filled with tears. “They… they floated her… right in front of me.”

Mikasa’s eyes began to water a bit and she exhaled a shaky breath. Armin’s mouth was parted but this was the first time he’d heard since his own arrest and it started to make since why Eren and Mikasa were here too. His assumption would be that Eren's mother, Carla Yeager, was floated and it set Eren and Mikasa off. Security had no other choice but to arrest them in order to get them under control. What had Mrs. Yeager done to deserve be murdered like that? And why didn’t Eren’s father stop it? He could have, right? He was a council member of the Ark.

“I’m so sorry.” Armin said and put a comforting hand on either one of their shoulders.

Eren sniffled miserably and rubbed at his eyes. “I saw my dad before I was taken away.” He reached into his shirt to reveal a key on a chain that hung around his neck. “He slipped this into my hands quickly.” They had been bound at the time so all he could do was clutch the item in his fists. “It’s the last thing I have from him but…” He turned the key at an angle.

Armin smiled when he saw it. “It’s beautiful.” There was Carla Yeager’s name engraved on it.

“Still,” Eren put the key back in his shirt. “He didn’t seem like a man that just lost his wife and was about to lose his son.” His brows furrowed. “Something is off about this whole thing. And I will find out what it is.” He then grabbed Mikasa’s hand and Armin’s hand with each of his own. “We’ll figure it out together.” Turning, he didn’t give them much of a say, not that they would reject the idea of investigating into this matter further. For now, it was time to see what Earth looked like. Their very first time. Humanity’s very first time, in one hundred years.

The others that had survived the landing were exploring the nearby territory, congregating in groups, and the rest were mourning their fallen comrades. As far as they could tell, everyone was fine as far as not being affected by the radiation went. The trio held hands tightly as they stepped to the edge of the platform that had extended out like a ramp when the door had opened. Everything was so bright at first, they had to close their eyes and then squint until they adjusted to the light. Eren was in disbelief. Mikasa and Armin stood there speechless as they gazed at the scenery. How was this possible? Armin extended his hand outward and touched the sunlight. It was the most soothing warmth he’d ever felt. Mikasa and Eren followed his lead by also reaching for the sun. The trees swayed in the distance and the breeze caught their clothes and hair. They were smiling as it felt nice. “Incredible.” The blonde whispered. “I never thought I would see it or feel it.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Eren smirked at them before pushing Mikasa a little bit and then jumped down onto the Earth’s soil sprinting away from them, begging to be chased. It was an irresistible opportunity as Armin and Mikasa exchanged amused glances before jumping down as well and chasing their friend across the meadow. Each breath they took had never been so clear and with each step, the stretch of their legs, this is what freedom should feel like. No, this was their freedom. The world was theirs now, as they knew it. Unfortunately, the Ark passengers had yet to realize that while the Earth was beautiful, it also carried a curse give by the nuclear apocalypse. Things were not at all as they seemed.

Chapter Text

“When we were still on the Ark, there was a moment when I didn’t feel like myself.” Armin began. The three of them were huddled together beneath a tall tree while the sky turned to dusk. They had already been on earth for a few hours now, exploring the nearby grounds. Armin insisted they wait with the pod until the sun came up one more time. That was going to be all the time the Ark had. As for the other passengers, they tried convincing a few of them to stick around but most of them wanted to do their own thing. They couldn’t control them.

Eren was okay with it but only because he was exhausted from multiple things. Their crash landing being one and the inner pain he felt knowing his mother was gone forever. His hand absentmindedly reached up and touched the key that was beneath his shirt. He had so many questions. His green eyes met with Armin’s blue ones as he continued telling them what happened.

“I was upset and desperate. My grandfather fell extremely ill and his condition declined within hours.” Remembering was hard. Mikasa noticed when Armin paused and held onto his arm as she leaned on his shoulder comfortingly. “We didn’t have any medication left and the doctors gave him a pathetic exam.”

At that moment, Eren punched the ground with his fist. “My dad!” He snapped. “Why didn’t he do anything!”

“Actually,” Armin thought. “I don’t remember seeing your dad at all while we were being checked.” It was odd for the great doctor Yeager to be missing during health evaluations within District Twelve since that’s where they resided. “They were taking an awfully long time with my grandpa and it made me anxious. I knew something was wrong. Then the worst thought entered my head. That they would choose to float him and save their precious medicine.” He stopped briefly to touch the blades of grass beside him. Tiny distractions helped. “I um,” He shuddered. It was painful to talk about, but he needed to tell them. “I tried taking some antibiotics that were on the cart. They weren’t going to give him anymore and were going to let him suffer until he passed away.” He couldn’t help it and started crying behind one of his hands. “So that’s why I’m here. Stupid, right? What a stupid thing to do to get myself thrown behind bars. And it was meaningless.”

Mikasa reached over to take his other hand with hers and squeezed it. “I’m sorry about your grandfather. But it wasn’t meaningless. I want to point out that without you here, I don’t know what Eren or myself would be doing. We wouldn’t be as calm. Also, you’ve spoken a great deal about what’s going on regarding the Ark. You said there might be a place for us to go and you’re the only one who seems to have any kind of knowledge whatsoever about this plan.”

Eren agreed completely with her. “You are brilliant.”

A smile worked its way to the other’s face. “Thanks guys.” He guessed at this point, he was glad to not be upon the Ark for there was no doubt in his mind he’d be alone and would probably never see Eren or Mikasa again. “There’s something I would like to ask the both of you. May I be blunt?”

“Yes, what is it?” Eren had to prepare himself a bit. When someone asked if they could be blunt that was a good indication that the question could be triggering in some way. Judging by the look on Armin’s face, he was in deep thought but also looked frightened. What had he figured out?

“Hey?” Mikasa said since Armin had spaced out.

Armin looked between his friends carefully but ended up fixing his gaze on Eren. “Do you think it’s possible that your mom knew something she shouldn’t have? Something about the Ark.”

“What do you mean?” Eren asked with a raised brow.

“I mean that this whole operation was rather sudden from our perspective. This is all just a theory but the way they were so secretive about everything just rubs me wrong. So, I think the Ark is deteriorating or maybe it’s having a malfunction of some kind.” He looked away as he continued talking. “Now just hear me out. Suppose that the Ark civilians are unaware that we are even on Earth or that this operation even existed. Is it possible that your mom could have heard or maybe seen something she shouldn’t have like a document? Overheard a conversation?” Like he had basically while he was in holding.

Eren’s gaze was now fixated past Armin. He looked lost but it was quite the opposite. He was getting it now. “They had been arguing. My parents. I wasn’t paying attention to what it was about though. Just tried blocking it out.” Mikasa’s features also confirmed this to be true.

“What would be the purpose of keeping such a huge secret away from the public? Shouldn’t we have had the right to know their plans before this mess happened?” Mikasa asked.

“Okay, let’s assume everything we have talked about so far is true.” Armin continued. “They wouldn’t want this kind of information to become public for it would only inflict terror. If things got out of hand, people could riot. It would be like a blind rage. Discovering that the people you trusted knew that you only had so many possible days left to live. Not knowing what we don’t understand causes fear. Fear causes panic. Panic causes destruction.” Armin looked at Eren one more time. “I think that your mom found out about the poor condition the Ark was in. She knew what the right thing was to do but…” It caused her to be murdered but of course he wasn’t going to say that. “If all of this is wrong and I’m overthinking things then, I guess I have no idea why they did this to us and our families. Maybe the Chancellor just decided it was time to take a risk and see if Earth was survivable again.”

Eren disagreed with that. “No, I’m sure you’re onto something. If we’re capable of surviving in space, then why look for any other way. It’s been nearly a hundred years, am I right? They choose a hundred of us to sacrifice instead of taking on this mission themselves.”

“A hundred of us with records as far as the Ark’s laws go.” Armin added.

“What about her? She didn’t even do anything.” Eren said, looking at Mikasa.

“Maybe it’s because I interfered while you were punching an officer.” She answered. It was the main reason she could think of. “Or they decided to finally dispose of the poor little orphan girl.” As a child, Mikasa’s parents were taken away by the Military Police when she was only five years old. She was never given a reason as to why this happened. One day they were all together, a happy family and the next she was abandoned. She remembered little to nothing about that day. After the incident had happened was when Dr. Yeager had approached her, saying that from then on she would be staying with him, Carla, and Eren.

“Don’t say that.” Eren’s features fell gloomy. Now he felt bad for making her remember that day. “You’re here because of me. It’s my fault.”

Although, Mikasa would be with Eren regardless. Had it not been so easy for them to stay together, she would have made sure she was on that pod one way or another. “Trust me, Eren, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” In her head it hadn’t sounded so corny which made the heat rise to her cheek but she ducked her nose under the red scarf so it was invisible to them.

Eren wasn’t blind but he was sometimes confused on what he meant to Mikasa. Some days it was like a sibling protectiveness and other days it gave him the impression it was a lot more than that. “What matters now is that we stick together.” His attention was suddenly directed past his friends to some people that were moving around the pod. They were carrying out the bodies of those that had died during their landing.

Armin and Mikasa turned around to look at what Eren was looking at. “We should help them.” Armin said. “They’re probably moving them out so they can sleep inside the pod without having to look at them. We should sleep inside too if they’ll let us.” It’s possible they could try and claim the pod as theirs and not let them near it. But it was only about ten people that were lingering around. If they were nice then maybe things would work in their favor and they would all get along.

“What do you mean if they let us?” Eren moved to stand up with a glare.

“I mean, lets be careful.” Armin followed Eren and lowered his voice. “Because who knows if some of us actually committed crimes worth being convicted for.” Not petty things like what they’ve done.

Eren nodded after hearing that. It was true they should watch their backs around their fellow passengers. “Need any help?” He asked as he approached two people that were placing a body down. One of them went to close the victim’s eyes which seemed like the gesture of someone who cared. As a matter of fact, they were placing the bodies next to one another in a line, keeping them straight.

A blonde boy looked over to them. He was still in a shaken stage, but he managed to answer. “That would be kind of you.” It wasn’t the response that Eren had been expecting but at least he was willing to get along for the sake of their safety. Or at least that is what he was hoping for. “Will you help me carry another?” Eren nodded and followed him to the pod. Armin was talking to a girl and trying to comfort her while Mikasa took the liberty of picking up broken debris and clearing out the inside of the pod as much as possible. “I’m Thomas.” The other boy had said calmly.

“Eren.” He knelt to help Thomas as they picked up another fallen passenger and carried him outside, placing him next to the others. This time he covered the deceased’s eyes, closing them. “It kind of sucks so far, huh?” He looked at Thomas.

“Hm? Oh, you mean Earth?” His gaze fell. “Yes.” He exhaled a shaky breath. “They were within reaching distance of their freedom and…” Eren felt lucky to have his own life and the life of his friends still at his side. It could have been any of them. Even some of them that had their safety belts on still obtained head trauma too awful to mend. At least for most of them, they hadn’t suffered.

“Yeah, now that we are free, we don’t know what to even do with it.” Eren looked down at the bodies and exhaled. They were all still people with dreams. They were people that made mistakes just like he had, and they deserved a second chance. It was unfair that they didn’t even get to take their first real breath of oxygen. That still seemed hard to believe. It was like the air was purified. Each inhale was truly like breathing in life.

Thomas knew the feeling. He didn’t know what they were supposed to do either. “I guess we should just get some rest in a bit. Tomorrow we will start looking for water.” Otherwise, they wouldn’t last long without that key component to their survival.

Armin overheard upon walking up on them. “Hello.” He gestured lightly to Thomas. “I would recommend that we take turns keeping watch in case anyone decides to wander back.” With the mere twenty of them that remained at the pod and a dozen that had passed away during their landing, it left a great portion of naïve individuals scavenging around the forest at night. It wasn’t the best choice if they wanted to survive. “I was wondering what you guys thought if I started a fire. In case anyone decided to come back it would provide a light and give off a bit of warmth.” The air had turned a little chilly once the sun had dipped behind the trees beyond the hill.

Thomas and Eren both looked at him surprised. Eren smirked, “You can’t.” But he was teasing his friend, implying that he didn’t know how.

“Do you have something to bet right now, hm?” Armin playfully bumped his shoulder. “I’ll prove it. I need some dry bark and I’m going to look for a couple of smooth stones.” Mikasa followed Armin to make sure he wasn’t alone while Eren and Thomas worked together to find some small sticks or pine needles that could possibly burn.

“Friend of yours, I assume?” Thomas asked Eren.

“Best friend actually.” He paused, looking over his shoulder as both his friends got further away from them. As long as they stayed together, they would be fine. But he found himself gradually casting glances in their direction.

“You’re lucky then that you’re not alone.” Thomas seemed like a pretty chill guy from what Eren could tell. The others that had stayed behind with the pod did too. Maybe they were too scared to venture off but whatever moved their decision, it was right to stay put for now.

The girl that Armin had been speaking to a moment ago approached them and crouched down beside them. “Hi, um, what are you guys doing?” She had dark hair like Mikasa but hers was draped into two small ponytails on either side of her shoulders.

“Hey Mina.” Thomas greeted. “This is Eren; we’re looking for sticks so his friend can make a fire.”

She gasped and put her hands down in front of her so she was on all fours. “Get out, are you serious? I want to help so maybe I can learn how to make my own fire.” Weren’t they blessed to have someone like Armin that loved to read books about Earth so much that he would most likely guarantee their survival. The guy was practically born for this moment.

Armin and Mikasa were only several feet apart as they looked for stones. They had to venture off a bit as they weren’t exactly on terrain with rocks. It was a field that did have trees to the front and back of where their pod landed. “I’m going right over here. Always stay within earshot.” He warned, travelling a little further from her but the lower the elevation the more rocks he saw. “Aha.” He exclaimed softly and picked up some rocks, inspecting to see if they might work to shed some sparks. He crawled around a bit and found a flatter one he preferred instead. Tossing the others aside, he had two stones that were about the size of his palm. If he couldn’t get them to spark there was another way too.

After rising again, he began looking around for a slightly larger stick. This method he could fray the bottom and try twisting it vertically on a flat surface around some dry leaves. Of course, he’d never made a fire before so with it being the first time, he was prepared to fail but he could hope not and use what knowledge he’d gathered while orbiting Earth all his life. Besides, he’d just told them he could do it.

As he was turning, he heard a branch snap in the distance, but it was still close enough to alert him. His gaze traveled around the trees, mouth parted slightly until he felt the need to swallow out of nervousness. Dusk gave a rather eerie vibe to the way the trees were spread apart. It was spooky. “H-hello?” He said in a slightly louder than normal voice.

“Yeah, I’m here.” Mikasa answered from atop the knoll, thinking that Armin had been talking to her.

The blonde’s eyes looked at her and then back into the valley. “Right.” He smiled and sloppily climbed his way back up to her.

“You alright?” She had noticed Armin seemed a little paranoid.

He nodded. “It’s just strange hearing a lot of different sounds. Space is so quiet after all. I mean was.” He looked at what he had in his hands. “Well, I think I have what I need. Let’s see if I can do it.”

Eren had made a poorly drawn circle in the dirt for Armin to make his fire. Mina and Thomas found some useful pieces that looked like they might burn too and started to outline the circle with their findings. “Will it really work?” Mina asked excitedly sitting next to Eren and Thomas adjacent to her. Before they knew it, other passengers joined their circle and they got to where they were exchanging names and a little about themselves with one another.

Armin felt nervous seeing more people gather. “Ah, why’d he have to mention it?” He whispered to Mikasa, while assuming that Eren opened his big mouth about him making fire. “The pressure…”

“It’s okay. You’re brave and smart.” She simply put it.

His eyes looked at the ground but then as he felt curious, he looked behind him. Nothing and no one was there but it was just this feeling he had. Like if eyes were on him.

Eren’s eyelids were half closed but they opened when his friends returned. “Find what you need?” He asked smiling and eager to see Armin’s brilliance shine.

“Yeah.” He knelt with Eren and looked around at all the other faces that had appeared. They seemed to be relying on him now. A feeling of anxiety overcame him, and his hands began to tremble as he held the two rocks together. “I um, I shouldn’t have guaranteed I could do this.” Now that he was on the spot, he felt very nervous.

Someone had grabbed his wrist gently. It was Eren. “Take a breath. You’re fine.” He hadn’t always been the best at comforting, but it was enough.

Giving him a nod, Armin smiled and adjusted to sit more comfortably while he got to work. First trying his best with the stones and then moved on to rubbing the stick on the center of a piece of bark. This method seemed to be giving the better results as with some time and patience, a little smoke formed. He was rather surprised he’d made it this far and didn’t give up. When he thought it was the proper time, he held his hair back and leaned forward to blow gently on the glowing pine needles. The others waited to see what would happen as this was a historic moment for them.

A tiny flame licked the leaves. Everyone was watching intently, clearly impressed. Armin cupped his hands around it to shield it from the wind that was strangely picking up. “Alright, now lets let it grow on some other sticks and stuff.” Or hope for the best. It seemed to take it a moment to travel from the leaves to the sticks but once it got bigger everyone excitedly wanted to feel the heat. Eren was one of those people that thought it wouldn’t burn him because he was invincible. “Hey, careful.” Armin pulled Eren’s hand back a bit and got an eyeroll in return.

Later when it became dark, the only light that was provided for them now was the fire that was successfully at a full burn now and an occasional cloudy moon. Eren was staring up at the sky and when the clouds would part, he would smile at the stars. “It looks so different from down here.” He said to no one in particular but since Mikasa was there she agreed. She rubbed at her wrist and Eren was reminded of his own. Each of the one hundred wore a metal bracelet around their wrist. It was rather plain except for a number engraved on it and a small glowing green light.

“What are these things?” Mikasa asked. “Can we communicate with it or something?”

Eren started messing with his more and tried breaking it off by pulling it. “I don’t know but it’s annoying.” The metal band was pressed uncomfortably right around where you’d check someone’s pulse.

Armin had been listening and decided to steer their attention away from the bracelets for now. “I’ll take first watch, you know, just in case anyone wanders back or anything.” He reminded them of what they briefly discussed earlier.

“It’s okay, I wouldn’t mind watching the clouds and stars a bit longer.” Eren said as he turned his gaze back to the sky. Even though it was night, the dark clouds could be made out with the light of the moon behind them.

“Oh, okay then.” Armin decided to not press for it if Eren was willing to stay up longer. “Just wake me before you start dozing off and we’ll switch out.” He said and went to find him a quiet spot in the corner to rest his eyes finally. It was cute how Mina had turned her sleeping position towards Armin when she noticed him there. He was naturally a comfortable person to be around.

“You should get some rest too.” Eren said to Mikasa. The look on her face was as serious as ever.

“I’m fine-.”

“No, I can-.” Eren snapped unintentionally, although he had stopped himself. Mikasa smothered him sometimes and he honestly hated it. He exhaled and relaxed. “I don’t need you to babysit me.” He frowned and looked away from her.

She felt a pang in her heart like always. Maybe she should be used to it now since he would usually disregard her concern for him. “I see.” Even still, she clung to the scarf around her neck and stood up. “Goodnight then.” Is that what Eren thought? That she only babysat him? It couldn't be because she just wanted to be with him?

Eren turned as she walked away from him, feeling a little bad but he guessed he really couldn’t understand her behavior. Maybe that’s why he reacted harshly sometimes. He didn’t want to feel like he always needed her even if she had saved his ass in several scuffles in their younger years. The very thought of them as children brought back a lot of feels. Armin was bullied nearly every single day on the Ark. They did have a teaching system there. Boys always ganged up on Armin and it pissed Eren off. Armin wasn’t weak but he also never hit back. Too pure for anyone. Eyes full of life that hungered for an adventure. Yeah, Armin would do just fine on Earth, but now would Eren have to rely on him too?

He really should have known better than to claim he could hold out for a few more hours, because his eyes began to feel heavy. There was no way to tell the time right now but the sound of the crickets were putting him to sleep. They had discovered that there were bugs. Earlier, they’d found some in the dirt and were holding them in their palms inspecting the little things. They looked like roly polies and weren’t scary or gross looking, at least. He yawned softly and leaned his shoulder against the side of the pod, clearly more exhausted than he’d lead on.

It was still pitch black beneath the faint moonlight. He jerked awake from a bad dream but all he could recall was someone screaming; he gasped when he’d realized he’d fallen asleep. It had scared him because that meant no one was looking out for everyone. How could he be so careless? He rubbed his eyes and saw the smoke leaving the ashes of what had burned earlier. “Shit.” He muttered and moved closer to it, making a sad attempt to revive the fire by blowing on it like he’d watched Armin do. But it wasn’t going to ignite again. He sat back on his knees and held a hand to his forehead. There was a sound like something had crunched beside him. He only moved his eyes from side to side, too afraid to move his body. Someone was here.

Finally, he stood up and dusted his pants off now looking in the direction of the sound. There it was again. Quickly, he looked behind him to see if he’d woken anyone and they were all sleeping soundly thank goodness. Eren didn’t want anyone to think he couldn’t handle this. He would take a few steps then stop to listen for sounds again. When he would hear something, he would go that way for a moment and then stop again. “Who’s there?” He asked in a loud whisper. There was no voice but there was this odd scraping noise or like something being dragged. He wanted to know what it was.

After making it to the edge of the forest, he stopped behind each tree to gather new sounds and figure out what it was. Confused, he ran a hand through his espresso colored hair and to his shocking surprise his eyes widened at a figure standing halfway behind a tree in front of him. There was a hood over their head so he couldn’t see the character’s eyes, but they were definitely looking at him. The stranger lifted a finger to his lips implying for him to be silent, then that same finger tilted to the side pointing at something.

Eren’s chest began to rise and fall quickly with fear and although he didn’t want to take his eyes off the cloaked figure, his eyes seemingly moved on their own and fell onto a horrific scene. Even though he’d occasionally have nightmares, this was something that crawled out of a pit down to hell. If he ever would have had the imagination to create an image of a monster, this is exactly what it would have looked like. First, the creature seemed humanoid but mangled and disfigured. From this distance it appeared to have no top layer of skin and just had red, bloody, flesh that covered it. It had clothing that was all ripped and dirtied but wasn’t behaving like someone that could even dress themselves. It was more like an animal.

His eyes and body trembled, now not being able to tear his gaze away from such an unbelievable thing. That wasn’t all. The creature was eating something. No – someone. It was too far away to be undetected yet close enough that he clearly made out a human body. It was making awful, repulsive noises as it tore away at their flesh. He managed to break his gaze away and close his eyes for a few seconds. When he opened them, he was looking at the hooded figure again. They still seemed to be watching him. Eren leaned against the tree and try to slow down his breathing.

The stranger began to reveal a blade that was sheathed at their hip but stopped when it was halfway out. Due to some more unexpected company they turned towards the approaching creatures. Instead, they drew out the blade as quietly as possible and made a motion with the blade that seemed to be telling Eren to get back. He wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but he was sure he couldn’t move without making any noise. Clenching his jaw, he shook his head at the other who continued pointing their blade in the opposite direction. Eren was frozen, at least for this moment.

Two more creatures joined up with the one that was eating on a person and it didn’t seem to welcome the others coming to take it’s meal. It began screeching and striking out at the others forcing them to back up and become agitated. Two of them started fighting and the third creature became oddly curious with its surroundings. Eren pressed his back against the tree trunk as the thing crawled its way up beside him, looking around blindly. When it turned and saw Eren he dove for an opening and ran for it. The creature screamed and began to chase him through the dense trees not seeming to grow fatigued at all.

The other creatures were about to follow in the same path and chase after Eren, until they met their demise by decapitation. Two more cloaked individuals took care of them with a single swipe of their blades. It wasn’t much effort until they realized there were more stragglers edging towards them. They held their blades up and dived towards them like true heroes. Their blades piercing and unforgiving to the monsters that fell one after the other. At one point, they had to retreat into the treetops where they were obviously aware of the creature’s inability to climb.

“Where the hell did they come from all of a sudden?” A woman’s voice asked her partner. Clearly, they seemed to have some kind of experience dealing with monsters as they didn’t seem shaken up over them. Just the increasing number of them shed a bit of worry.

“No idea, but we can’t get all of them. I knew we should have brought more squad with us!” The man next to her shouted over the terrifying noises that were coming from beneath them.

Eren was panting and felt like he was losing his mind. He’d run so fast that he didn’t see the meadow or the pod anymore but all he could do was keep going dodging trees and careful not to trip on anything. Even though that is exactly what happened. That thing wasn’t exactly slow either. It was keeping up with him. So, when he finally lost his footing, he came tumbling down into a ravine and falling still. He was tired and for a mere second he lost hope and saw his life flash before his eyes. Turning over onto his back, his clothes were messed up and damp from the moist ground, and his hair was ruffled in distress.

It began crawling down into the gully with him and had even made an effort to lunge towards him. However, Eren pinched his eyes closed, not sure what to expect but it certainly wasn’t blood being splattered all over him. The creature went down next to him and he was clearly shaken up. It was pretty gross if he were honest. He made the loudest exhale and was trying desperately to catch his breath. His hands came up to his face to try and get rid of the blood, but he only smeared it everywhere.

Standing above him was the hooded figure he’d seen before next to the tree. His eyes and face pretty much not visible to him. The hoodie he wore hung just below his hips and the windy night made the fabric flow almost in a graceful way. When the light of the moon caught the image of the design that was displayed on the back it sparkled in a mesmerizing way. It looked like wings.

Chapter Text

-8 Years ago-

She hit the ground hard with a loud oof. Her red hair a mess and her chest falling and rising, a dangerous scowl across her face. “Gah, give me a rest will ya?” She sat up holding her side while another walked up to her and held out his hand.

“Do you think the monsters will let you rest?” He was on the short side with dark hair some of which fell in front of his silver eyes occasionally. His face was usually stern or emotionless but while helping her, his features relaxed a bit making him easier to approach and communicate with.

She frowned and started to twist her hair into two separate parts, tying them on either side of her shoulders angled back. “Tsk, no.”

“And who said, don’t go easy on me.’?”

Grabbing his hand, she sprang back up, obviously ready for another go. “Alright! I get it. I want to be able to dodge attacks like you and Furlan can. I can’t be weak forever.”

He gave her a curious look. “You’re not weak. As a matter of fact, I think you have a lot of energy but just don’t know where to project it.” He put a gap between them and rolled up his sleeves. “Watch carefully and imagine I was an enemy trying to grab you. Don’t let me touch you.”

She was nervous because she was trying to place herself in a situation like this but while she was in actual danger. He came at her and with a tiny yelp she went under his arm. She backed up with her fists raised, bouncing up and down like she was ready for more. “Oh, yeah! I thought you were going to give me a real challenge bro, come on.”

The smirk that the other gave was nice in all its rarity but he let her humor him. “Better not cry again.” He chased her trying to touch her and he was pretty sure she was making this out to be a game of tag or something. But after a while she was starting to get worried when he got too close a few times. Her stamina was dropping.

“What’s wrong? Tired already?” He asked, teasingly.

She clenched her teeth and growled at him. “Never!” She panted, grabbing a stick and holding it in front of her for protection.

“Oh, no. A stick.” He said nonchalantly, his pace quickening as he approached her and grabbed it before tackling her to the ground.

She let out a strangled scream before she was down in a position she couldn’t get out of. “Okay, okay, stop, oww!” He was sitting on her back but wasn’t really putting all his weight on her. She was thin and had less muscle than him. “God! You actually weigh a lot!” She still had some energy left because she was desperate to thrash around and escape.

Suddenly, there was some swift approaching footsteps and Furlan fell out of the bushes in a hurry, his hair a mess. He was a tall slender boy with hair that was the color of nutmeg. “Guys, I was near the river and, like, -people, there are people. Th-they didn’t see me, I don’t think.” He hurried to get up and get closer to them, helping the redhead up as she dusted off her clothes.

The other stood there contemplating on what to do. “Did they seem normal?” He should have said human instead.

“Yeah, I heard talking.” Furlan looked worried. “We haven’t encountered people since we left home.” Since they were forced out of their home by horrendous creatures around a year ago. Unable to return because of how it became overran; they didn’t know of anywhere else to go or if there were still survivors that found a way just like they had. Just like their parents and their grandparents had. “It was strange to see other people.” He walked up next to his side and leaned over closer to him. “Do you think it’s safe?”

He was facing the way Furlan had come from. There was a wind that swayed the tree limbs and made the leaves fall, dancing around them before they rested on the earth. “Let’s have a closer look.” They gathered what little materials they had left and brought it along just in case they decided to move on from this spot.

Furlan stopped them when they were close to where he’d been before. “Here.” There was the stream they’d been using for a few days until they decided to journey to the next place. It was crossable with just a long step. “Over here I heard talking. And there,” He sprinted towards a bit of a drop off where it overlooked a valley. “I can’t believe we didn’t notice it sooner.”

“Oh wow, they have a whole community down there.” Her face was surprised and filled with excitement. Finally, something new was happening. It wasn’t the same old boring day after day fighting for their lives and going to sleep hungry most of the time. This could be a new start for them.

The silver gaze of the smaller male was wary of such a change. How long had something like this existed and how? They seemed to have a rather good defense system. From what he could see, there was about a ten or maybe fifteen-foot wall that surrounded them. Well, at least he knew what they were keeping out. They belonged in there too; they were on the wrong side. Yet to them, they would be outsiders. Untrustworthy because they were strangers.

As they quietly chatted about their options with one another for a while, Furlan heard something close to them, like branches snapping. The others turned too. Should they run? Should they face whoever or whatever was approaching them even if it meant possible death? They backed up a bit, unsure but curiosity took over as they seemed to want to know.

Four people emerged before them, two of them armed. They had firearms? Interesting. Furlan was the first to speak, holding his arm out in front of her protectively. She took that as an insult and smacked his arm away. “We don’t want any trouble. If this is your territory, we will leave peacefully.”

The blonde man in front of them gestured for the other two to lower their weapons. It was a surprise to hear a deep, yet kind voice from him. “Hold on. It’s okay. No need to be skittish.” He was tall and didn’t appear threatening. Not really. “We noticed your fire a few days ago. It’s quite dangerous to build a fire at night. The reapers have trouble seeing so it only provides a source of light for them to find you. We’re certainly glad nothing snuck up on you. We also didn’t want to approach until we were sure that you were okay, so, forgive us for not advancing sooner.” The way he’d said okay was taken as if they wanted to make sure they weren’t bad people in general.

This was confusing. So, they knew they were there and let them stay outside of their wall for two more nights when something could have happened to them.

“You’ve been watching us.” Those silver eyes were preoccupied with that of the blonde man’s, looking for dishonesty but unable to see any.

A woman with long, dark brown hair that was pinned up in a messy ponytail, and glasses decided to make herself known. “You guys look exhausted. How about we have a little chat and then we’ll get you something to eat, eh?” She was nice enough with a bubbly personality. “Oh, excuse me. Call me Hange!” She raised her hand high over her head, greeting them cheerfully with a wave. She was inviting them in?

The blonde man introduced himself as well. “I’m Erwin.” He stepped forward but he did so carefully since he was aware that they still seemed frightened. “It’s nice to meet living, breathing people.” He extended his hand to greet them. “Welcome to Shiganshina.”

The three of them exchanged slight glances. This almost seemed like a trap. They were too nice. Of course, Furlan was the first to greet him. He’d always been so polite. “It’s Furlan.” He shook the man’s hand rather timidly.

“I’m Isabel!” She grabbed his hand and shook it so spastically that Furlan had to pull her away from him.

Erwin only chuckled at her enthusiasm. The last of them was holding them back as he was a very stubborn individual. He didn’t trust Erwin – not yet. “What about you?” He asked.

Isabel was glaring at him from Furlan’s grasp as if saying ‘don’t screw this up for us’. After a few more painstakingly long seconds he exhaled and spoke. “Levi.”

-Present day, approximately 100 years after the apocalypse-

They’d suffered a huge casualty. One of their own was either missing or dead. They didn’t find his body so how would they know? In the midst of scavenging the surrounding area, they had been attacked. It was still miles away from their home, the community given the name Shiganshina. This is where they brought people that they found that were alone, well, the unaggressive ones. Sometimes people needed a little talking to before they warmed up to a new idea.

While out on a run, a creature they’d never encountered before appeared and gave them a fight to remember. Of all the years they’ve been out on their own trying to survive, even Levi couldn’t process what he came up against. This was a creature that appeared more mechanical than organic. Almost like it was wearing armor. It replicated the body of a spider except it only had four limbs. Their blades were dulled, and they couldn’t seem to penetrate it in any place to weaken it. Being caught on the spot like that, they weren’t prepared for this type of enemy but then again, when were they truly ever prepared for what the world could throw at them. That was their mistake.

Defeated and exhausted, they returned home where they tended to the wounded and began an immediate discussion about what just happened and the creature they encountered. New preparations would have to be made now as they would need stronger walls and more weapons crafted. What was puzzling was the way the creature had stopped abruptly from attacking. It retreated after some time as if it had been given a command to do so. Or could it have been something else just caught it’s attention?

One of the interesting things that was brought up was that the creature had appeared when they became close to a unique looking building, one that was still standing somehow. Of course, there had been many attempts before to try and break into it. For all they knew it could have items that they needed. They decided to call this area north of them Trost. It helped to put a name with areas they’ve been to before and might want to revisit in the future.

A few months had gone by since the incident occurred. Thankfully, the creature hadn’t respawned. But ever since then, new rules were tacked in place, not to take away people’s freedom but because now they weren’t sure they were even safe within the wall. The younger adults hated it, but it was for their own safety. At least for now, that was how things were going to have to be. They needed a new plan, a ray of hope, a sign…

“Umm, is that normal?” A cute girl with burgundy colored hair asked as she pointed to the sky with a potato that had several bites taken out of it.

Her and her friend Connie would often hang out and sneak food up there together on top of the wall. Their nice friend Mr. Hannes would let them get away with it as long as they didn’t cause trouble. That part really meant for their friend Jean, because it was usually his mouth that got them kicked off up there. Not literally, of course. Sadly, he wasn’t with them at the moment and it was less fun without him there making them laugh with his stupid jokes.

She elbowed him and Connie woke up whining that it hurt.

“Will you look!” She said with a mouthful.

Connie adjusted his posture from where he’d been snoozing and held his hand over his eyes to cover the glare of the sun. “Uh, what the?” He looked behind him. “M-Mr. Hannes! Do you see that too?” He pointed up and Mr. Hannes’ eyes only widened at the sight. This obviously was something new.

The older man spoke with concern in his voice. “Could be a meteor but I’ll give word about it.” He didn’t think it was a meteor, but he’d most likely said that to not worry those two. It was kind of him, but they already knew better.

“That’s not a meteor, Sasha.” Connie whispered. “Come on, let’s get down from here for now.”

She pouted and stuffed the rest of the potato in her mouth, rubbing her cheek on her sleeve. “I didn’t think so either but what could it be?” She followed Connie swiftly along the wall until they reached the ramp that was built connecting to some stairs.

Mr. Hannes had passed the word along but something like this could be spotted from anyone. Everyone was looking up at the falling object. Some families took their children away or made them retreat into their homes while they came back out to join the discussion.

Isabel was flailing around in a bit of a panic, panting and looking left and right. But who she was looking for found her and grabbed her by both her wrists. “What is it? What is that thing?” As if his touch was magical, she felt a lot calmer already.

“Take it easy.” Levi reassured her. “It’s probably a piece of an old satellite that found its way to the atmosphere.”

At Levi’s side, Hange was behaving like she was possessed by it. Her gaze never broke away as the unidentified object descended towards Earth. She clasped her hands together in front of her. “Could there be people on a satellite?” She was grinning with excitement.

“Huh?” Levi should have known that mentioning something from space would trigger her. “Jeez.” He tugged her arm this time. “Don’t look directly at it, you’ll go blind.” Since the sun was just off to the side it had to burn as she stared.

She dipped her gaze down at last. “Right, oops!”

They noticed that Erwin was swiftly making his way up the wall to see if he could get a better look. He motioned for them to follow and they obeyed. The ones that served the community were trying to get people calm and were telling them not to worry. Some of them lied about what it was because it was the right thing to do so no one would panic. That was the last thing they wanted was for chaos to initiate.

Levi took the spot beside Erwin. “So, what do you think?”

Erwin was silent for a moment. “It’s definitely worth investigating.”

“Right.” Levi agreed although he thought everyone was riled up over nonsense. “I’ll take Furlan and Isabel in the morning. If there’s anything worth salvaging-”

He was interrupted. “Would you be able to go now?” Erwin asked. He then put his eyes on Levi, one of his most trusted companions. Their strongest protector. Whatever it was, Levi could handle it. Only, Levi just looked at him waiting for him to explain further. “Sorry, I know it’s a lot to ask.”

“It’s not.” Levi stated. “Is it that you think the reapers will get to it and destroy it?”

“No.” Erwin was being vague because he didn’t want to say what he really thought but he was going to have to if he wanted Levi to do this task. “My father used to tell me stories of the world and of the universe. He said that he believed that life found more than one way to survive. He was referring to outer space.”

Levi crossed his arms. “You think there’s people on there?” He took a glance at Hange who was shivering in excitement. Had her and Erwin been talking?

Hange’s glasses glistened in the sunlight. “Sky people.” She said rather calmly for once. The hope on her face was enough.

Isabel wasn’t so sure though. “Uh, okay? And suppose there are actual people on there. What if they don’t look like us? What if they look as bad as what else we already have to deal with down here?”

Erwin gave a nod. “She’s got a point. But for now, it’s just speculation. That’s why I need you to go see, Levi. I’ll take care of things here and ensure order is kept.”

Levi returned the nod and made his way down with Isabel behind him. “Where’s Furlan? We need to leave now while there’s still a few hours of sunlight. You know how traveling at night is.”

“Yeah, I’ll find him.” She took off one way as if she knew exactly where he was. Levi began to gear up, wearing a long blade on either side of his hips. That was how most of them wore their weapons. Those brave enough to encounter and fight monsters anyway. He grabbed a green jacket that he had with the rest of his belongings. For a moment, he just looked down at it. The threads, the design of the wings on the back, everything about it he liked. It was a gift from Petra. She was really good at crafting and helped everyone with their clothing, new and old items. But this, she took her time with. Each thread was a strand of her love and Levi knew it. It was unique just for him.

He threw it on as he emerged back into the sight of people. Then he noticed a lonely figure. He turned his gaze away for a second but exhaled because he just couldn’t leave without saying something. He approached and kicked the other’s boot before sitting next to him. “You want to come with?”

“Tsk, no thanks. I’d rather not get someone killed again.” The other’s smartass remark caused Levi to relive that moment when they’d met the griever. That is what they started calling this creature.

“Jean, it was not your fault.” Levi put a hand on his shoulder, trying to get him to look up or something. It worked. “You are a good soldier. Regardless of what you think. There is still so much to learn about this world. You could help us.” He got up and adjusted his jacket before walking away, heading for the gate which they were preparing to open.

“I can’t help…” Jean would murmur to himself although after he’d said those words it sort of made him realize the opposite. This was him just being stubborn. He began looking around for Sasha and Connie but stopped in a clearing to look up towards the thing everyone was talking about. Then his eyes looked over at Levi, Isabel, and Furlan who were sneaking out of the gate. They were probably trying to be discreet so the people wouldn’t feel vulnerable without their strongest soldier around, which was totally unnecessary. There were many brave soldiers that resided here.

“Yo, Jean!” Connie shouted and snapped him out of his thinking. Sasha was waving him down too.

“Hey strangers.” Jean retorted.

“Mmm, you’re the stranger here.” Sasha said looking at him for a mere second before her eyes found the falling spacecraft. The smoke it emitted behind it was so strange. It looked like a straight line of clouds.

Jean scoffed, crossing his arms. “You hear anything about it yet?”

“It’s definitely not a meteor.” Connie was copying Jean with his crossed arms and his slightly slumped posture, his shoulders curving in a bit, which resulted in Jean straightening up and punching his arm. Honestly, he appreciated the way Connie would try to lift his reoccurring gloomy mood. It made his feelings much more bearable. The other would hiss at his punch and rub his arm, glaring at him pouting.

It wasn’t often that Jean would try to involve himself in anything Levi was doing. It looked as if he didn’t like Levi, but it wasn’t so much that. Levi was unapproachable and usually untalkative. He was surprised he’d come up to him and said as much as he had, even offering him a place to come along with them. It was nice to feel needed and even be told that things weren’t his fault. But then his head would start talking to him, saying that he was useless, and the great Levi squad didn’t need him. That’s right. They didn’t. At least, that’s what Jean kept telling himself.

“Um, Levi?” Furlan started. They had started out in a slight jog, but they would take breaks periodically.

Shiganshina did have two horses. Unfortunately, they were both males, so breeding was out of the option. They were more so used for the hard labor of the community. Their crops and to move machinery and crates. It was a blessing they’d ever come across them. That certainly gave them hope for finding other animals that were living on. They had gone outside the wall many times so this was no different. Alertness was most important. Keep a watchful eye out for anything that looks threatening.

“Yes?” Levi questioned.

“Well, shouldn’t we wait for it to land before getting any closer? If it explodes and we are within radius…” Need he say more?

Levi took a glance over his shoulder. “There will be a place for us to observe from a distance.” He paused briefly. “I expected you to have more faith in me. Have I ever put you in danger?”

Furlan looked ashamed. “Of course not, Levi! I didn’t mean for it to come across like that!”

Isabel giggled sensing that Levi was just teasing him, and she was right.

As dusk fell upon them, Isabel and Furlan became a bit more finicky. Levi was cautious but he always behaved like such a relaxed individual that no one could ever tell what he was feeling or thinking. The soldier liked that though. He tried to mask his feelings as much as he could. After the fall of their underground sanctuary, Levi was positive he’d never feel certain things or certain ways. No one except Furlan and Isabel understood that. They were the one good thing in this world that he had.

However, once they’d been recruited and accepted into Shiganshina, things felt lighter and things were a hell of a lot easier for one they didn’t have to take turns watching over each other anymore while they slept. Levi talked a bit more. He wasn’t so cold and bottled up as people thought. He wanted to feel safe and to keep his family safe. Erwin was to thank for that. At the time, there was another leader. Now, he’d passed on, leaving Shiganshina to Erwin with the responsibility of making sure it never falls. That the tiny world they’ve built within a world continued to support the lives of theirs and expand. Let’s make the world great again, they said.

While they had been taking a rest, there was a powerful thud that made the ground quake. Isabel gasped and ran to see if she could see anything, but they were still a ways off. That was the sound of the spacecraft hitting the ground, no doubt. “We’re close!” She had shouted and quickly realized her mistake. Covering her mouth, she shook her head shamefully.

Furlan came up to her and flicked her forehead. It was always difficult for her to be quiet in these situations but Levi trusted her and they’d grown closer after all of the monsters they’ve killed and all the pain and tears they shared; their history was complicated but it’s what made them into who they are today. She slapped his hand away and it made him laugh softly.

“Come on you two. We’re still about an hour out.” Levi said and pulled his hood up over him as he studied the sky and the travel of the clouds that plummeted towards earth. They’d had to learn how to estimate their travels and how long and far it would take them to get the jobs done that they conducted outside of the walls. It helped Shiganshina predict how long they would be gone and when they’d return. If they didn’t return by the estimated time, it could mean bad news. With this bizarre event, Erwin wasn’t exactly counting the minutes they’d been gone, however. This was going to be a long night.

It was probably closer to another forty minutes of speed walking and sprinting. Isabel would be glad when they could stop since she was tired. This was the first time that she’d been outside the wall since the griever was discovered. Levi would still go out with Erwin, Hange, and Furlan. Now she was thinking she’d lost her strength as she spent her days trying out luxury and not worrying so much. She couldn’t let anyone down and let this be for nothing.

Isabel bumped into Levi when he halted abruptly. At first, she hadn’t known why but then she heard it too. Voices. Human vocals. Her eyes only widened when she thought she could even understand bits and pieces of their conversations too. “They’re talking like us?” She whispered, not sure if she was asking a question or stating it. Was this really happening?

Furlan looked down at Levi, waiting to hear what he would say about this.

“Let’s get higher. Be careful and be quiet.” Levi told them softly and began looking around for a tree with something they could work with as far as climbing up it went. They had mastered such a skill being on their own for so long. The trees were tall, most of them clustered together and overgrown making it easier to climb around and find a good grip. The Earth went back in time to a prehistoric age, causing the growth over time to become abnormally large. This was in humanity’s favor.

As they peered down into the valley they could see straight ahead, their faces were filled with bewilderment. None of them spoke for a few minutes. They could only watch as the passengers aboard the pod mingled around in the open nearby.

Isabel was smiling. Her bright green eyes wide in amazement. “Are they… are they…” She couldn’t get a full sentence out.

“Sky people.” Levi answered.

Chapter Text

Mikasa didn’t normally have nightmares. She remembered having a hard time the following months after her parents were taken away but that would be normal for a child that was old enough to recall such events. So, when she was awoken by this overwhelming feeling of dread, she laid there, eyes wide and soft pants escaping past her lips. Sitting up, she took a moment to stretch since they weren’t laying on any cushion; her neck hurt a little and one of her arms was a little numb from falling asleep on it. She moved it around to make the tingling sensation stop as she looked over at Armin. He looked like he was sleeping easier than she had. They were all exhausted. Only, Mikasa worried too much. She better switch places with Eren so he could get some sleep now.

Taking light steps to ensure she didn’t wake the others, she stepped outside. “Eren?” She whispered, looking down at the light bit of smoke that was still rising from the ashes. Her heartrate dramatically increased as she looked around frantically for him. “Eren?” She said a bit louder but not by a lot. She took off and ran around the entire pod looking for him, but he was not here. Panicked, she ran back inside the pod and began shaking Armin awake.

“Ow, Mikasa?” He began to rub his tired eyes.

“He’s gone! I looked around already! Armin, we have to-.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and tried to understand. “Wait, Eren’s gone?” Because who else could she be talking about? “Are you sure? Come on, let’s go check.” Their talking had already made some of the others stir and curse at them for being too loud. They hurried up and got out of there so they wouldn’t disturb them anymore. Mina was the only one that woke up and seemed curious about what was going on.

Armin looked down at what was once the beautiful fire he’d made, and his features became struck with terror. The fire had died and Eren wasn’t here. Why did this seem like such a bad scenario? Why had Eren wandered off? Or had he been lured away somehow? Armin felt the tremors coming as a thousand possibilities raced through his mind. What had happened to Eren?

Mikasa frantically walked out into the field and raised her hands to her mouth, “Erennn!” She shouted.

“Mikasa, stop!” Armin dashed after her even his frazzled state. “Please, don’t yell.”

“What!? I don’t care if I wake them up! Now help me look for him.” She said firmly. Armin grabbed her arms to try and stop her from going any further, but she was practically unstoppable if she felt like Eren was in trouble. “I’m going to look for him!” She pulled away from Armin, unintentionally pushing him back a little.

“No, you can’t. Please stay!” Armin begged her not to leave him there with a bunch of strangers in the dark. “Mikasa, it’s too dark.” He tried saying things to make her reconsider, but nothing was working. After all, her tunnel vision was activated. She needed to see Eren, to know he was okay, and just be near him. Without those things, she was reckless.

Mina hurriedly met up with Armin, “Hey, is Eren okay? I kind of heard you talking.” She was concerned with the way Mikasa was acting. So far, she had seemed like such a levelheaded girl but right now she was walking around in the moonlight screaming Eren’s name.

Armin was really frightened right now. He didn’t know what to do. Was it better to walk off in the dark looking for Eren or to stay put until dawn? And why was Eren gone anyway? He couldn’t fathom why his best friend would up and leave them. Then the possibility entered his mind. He was taken by something.

Because he didn’t know how to answer, he didn’t say anything back to Mina and chased Mikasa again. “Mikasa, stop it. Please stop. I have to tell you something.” He grabbed her again, but he wasn’t sure if he was latching onto her because he wanted her to stop moving or if he was just straight up scared.

“What?” She paused and faced him, her teeth clenched, and her eyes brimming with tears.

“Earlier,” He whispered. “When we were looking for the rocks, I thought I… I thought…” He brought a hand up to his mouth and choked on his words.

She could see the absolute terror that Armin was feeling. Now she felt guilty. “Hey,” She relaxed but only for a moment. “Hey?” Her voice had changed, and she pushed past Armin again. “Eren?” She muttered as she saw a figure staggering to its feet at the edge of the valley.

Armin turned his head around so quickly that his hair flipped and left him looking even more disheveled than he already was. He wasn’t a violent boy whatsoever, but he was so upset at Eren for making them all freak out like this. It was their first night on Earth. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. The world that was now to be their new homeland, was unveiling its true colors. How cruel was this world they landed on?

Their hope was stolen from them the very instant Mikasa realized that what she was looking at wasn’t Eren nor was it human. The outline of it came closer, creepily staggering in the moonlight and it emitted a weird animalistic noise.

Armin’s mouth fell agape upon realization. He grabbed Mikasa’s arm and together they started backing up until they realized that running was probably a better option. The creature, that at first seemed rather dumb, swiftly came towards them once it caught a slim glance of their movement. Now they were both panicking while something that looked like a walking disease chased after them.

“What the hell is that?!” Mikasa yelled as she tried looking over her shoulder. She was faster than Armin and ended up being the one pulling him along. As they neared the pod again, Mina started screaming while one of those things found its way to the ramp and started crawling inside. Mikasa skidded to a halt now grasping Armin and looking from the pod to back at the thing behind them.

“Mina!” Armin yelled, tears began streaming out of those blue eyes as he saw her topple over; the creature crawled on top of her and had her pinned while it started eating on her flesh. At this point, everyone inside the pod was woke and scattered like deer. There was so much chaos. So much horror. So many screams of the ones that remained with the pod. Armin felt like he was in a trance as he watched more of those monsters emerge from the forest and surround the pod. They were completely swarmed and utterly helpless. A true feeling of ultimate despair overwhelmed him.

A lot of those that were still inside the pod managed to escape into the night, but Armin could hear them screaming when they reached the trees. More monsters lurked there while their prey came straight to them. This was an absolute nightmare. He raised his hands to his hair and got his fingers all tangled up in a mess.

Mikasa pushed him which sent him to the ground, but he wasn’t moving, and that one creature was still tailing them. “Armin, we have to go now.” The monster passed between them and then was left confused like it didn’t see them anymore. She grabbed his arm and they turned to run, unsure of where they were even going but anywhere away from this gruesome and sickening scene.

Both of them were panting so hard, adrenaline fueling them as they ran as far away from the pod as they could. That is, until they realized the pitch blackness of their hellish night. The trees overhead covered the light of the moon. Without their sight, Mikasa had accidentally slipped off into a ravine. She yelped as her hand slipped away from Armin’s and her body blindly tumbled down the edge. She rolled through vines and over rocks, hitting her head roughly against the hard surface. Now she laid at the bottom, unconscious and probably injured.

Armin had tried to grab her, but it happened so fast. Once he thought he had her but it was only her scarf. He had no time to react. A little further and they would have both ran off into it. “Mikasa!” He yelled, falling to his knees and peering over the edge, grasping her scarf in his trembling hands. “C-can you hear me?” He said a little softer, trying not to be so loud in case any of those things followed them. The outline of her body could barely be made out in the dark. “Mikasa…” He had already been crying but now reality hit him so hard. “Please, hear me…” First Eren was missing and now this?

You’re worthless. You can’t protect your friends. You can’t help anyone.

That little voice in his head always kicked him down, leaving him powerless. Why did he have to be so weak? “Mika…sa…” He breathed, trying to get ahold of himself. He needed to think. He needed help. There was no way that he would be able to climb back up with Mikasa’s body if he went down there after her. Maybe there was someone – anyone that would be willing to help him. But he was afraid to call for help. Those creatures would hear him, wouldn’t they?

He stood up all wobbly, his body trembling all over. In the distance, he could hear people still screaming frantically. With all that noise, maybe those things would be drawn in that direction. Although, wasn’t that way he also needed to go to find someone. And how horrible to wish them in the opposite direction of himself. It was like defeat had wrapped itself around him. After taking only a few steps forward, he fell to his knees again; the leaves on the ground crunched beneath his weight. Then he heard movement close by. He didn’t want to look yet he was unable to close his eyes nor able to move. Was this really how he was going to die? Those thoughts crossed his mind even before his eyes moved slightly to the side. He was paralyzed with fear so looking was all he could do anyway. If he stayed put; this was going to be it for him.

Only a few arm stretches away it emerged from the darkness. Armin held his breath as the figure limped all around the general vicinity he was in but not once did it act aggressive. In fact, it didn’t seem to acknowledge his presence at all. It was breathing rapidly, looking at him, and then past him, then turning around like it was confused or had forgotten where it was. Well, he couldn’t tell exactly if it was looking at him but what he thought was the creatures’ line of sight was directed his way. Was it blind or abnormal in some way?

Armin felt his lungs constrict and his chest started burning the longer he resisted to breathe. Finally, it wandered away from him and he was able intake the air he desperately needed. He covered his mouth to try and muffle his breathing, but he was on the verge of hyperventilating now. How long had he sat there in disbelief? It was long enough that all the screaming had finally ceased. He’d been staring downward at the ground, eyes wide in thought because he was trying to make it make sense. But it didn’t. Why hadn’t that monster killed him? He was right there, helpless. But it didn’t attack him like the other creature had earlier when he and Mikasa fled. Oh, Mikasa. What was he supposed to do? He wasn’t strong and couldn’t fight. Not like her and Eren could. Even the monster thought he wasn’t worth killing. How pathetic.

Too scared to move from the spot he was in, he found himself in a fetal position and shivering in the crisp night air. If he could survive the night and this darkness, they might have a chance depending on how their situation unfolded. It was unspeakable trepidation.

---------

“Erennn?!” Mikasa’s loud, shaken voice shattered the silence that had settled for a few moments.

Eren gasped and sat up abruptly, “Mika-!” He started to shout but he was silenced by the stranger’s palm. Did he not realize that those things were probably going after his friends now? And she continued yelling. Her voice was guiding those creatures to the pod. All he could think was that he had to stop it. He wasn’t going to lose them too.

Irritated, he tried grabbing the stranger’s wrist and pulling away from him but the other was really strong. He applied some force upon Eren to try and keep him quiet. His eyes looked everywhere but at him, scanning the area for any more reapers nearby. The night was deadly, and silence was their key to surviving the darkness. It wasn’t Eren’s fault for not knowing how Earth worked yet.

The second he had the chance, he opened his mouth and chomped down on the other’s hand. Levi recoiled, his hood falling back and revealing his face to Eren. Although it was still too dark for Eren to tell much about details. He held his hand with his other, panting in disbelief that this stupid boy had just bit him. Then he felt something running down his arm. He’d broken the skin. Levi was appalled. He was trying to save his life – to help them all and this is what he gets?

Eren staggered to his feet, glaring at Levi. It was unseen that Levi’s pupils retracted in anger. Eren had a worse enemy now. Him. They stared at each other for a few seconds. Each time Eren would move or adjust his footing, Levi would move too. It shook his nerves a bit, realizing he’d just picked a fight with a grounder, an Earth person. He never was the best at making friends. It was like he was programmed to induce violence before reasoning or looking at the entire picture.

Levi was clenching his jaw and it was taking everything in him to not draw out his blade. No, he was going to hurt him with his own hands. Or maybe he’d let a reaper have him. He was fuming, and when Eren tried to be sneaky to escape, Levi was already on him. Eren’s eyes widened fearfully as he was tripped and brought down again. Now this guy didn’t have a care about making noise as they were both rolling around on the ground throwing punches and throwing around dirt. If it had to get messy, then so be it.

But their scuffling and Eren’s blaring war cry was more than enough to get the attention of some reapers. Levi smashed Eren’s face into the ground to try and shut him up, but it was too late. They were coming now. He wasn’t sure he’d ever encountered another person that threw a fit this much before. Someone like him was clearly not from this world since he was so oblivious to the danger that lurked around them.

There was an opening for Eren, and he didn’t hesitate to take it. He went to strike at Levi and when he moved to dodge it, it caused the metal bracelet that was on his wrist to collide with his skull. For the moment Eren had the upper hand and was able to push Levi off of him in his dazed state.

Levi rolled over holding his head, feeling the abrupt splitting headache he now had. He laid there on his back holding his head, his breathing labored, but he wasn’t trying to be quiet. He could already hear a couple of reapers coming up on him. Carefully, he sat up with a slight groan and waited for them. If it was going to be combat, it was better to wait for them to come into his view.

By the time they staggered in the area they already seemed confused. Levi had quieted down a little, but he still planned on killing these. He stood up and that little bit of movement grabbed their attention easily. This wasn’t a particular thing that was scary for him. He’d been through it so much. As they gradually came closer, he pulled out his blade and took care of them. Their bodies fell with a thud. That’s when Levi noticed how bloody his hand was and now it was all over the handle of the blade too. He grimaced, feeling so filthy right now. It was all that brat’s fault.

As he turned around, he knew he needed to find him and anyone else that was alive still. But it didn’t seem like they were willing to reason. Actually, it probably wasn’t that. They were probably scared out of their minds. They had a right to be. Whatever happened, or the reason they were now on Earth was still a mystery and it even piqued Levi’s curiosity. However, now that brat had a head start but he didn’t think people from space would know anything about tree climbing.

Eren had taken off blindly in the darkness, but he was hurt. He felt like there was a layer of red over his eyes. Was it the reaper’s blood or his own now? Because the blows he’d received were forceful and painful. Priority had become to flee from the creatures that he thought were following him. Should he have really left that guy behind though? It tugged at his mind while he ran, clipping his shoulders against trees and having to climb over some fallen ones.

Finally, he came to a stop when he realized he was not going the right way. Now he was worried, having gotten so far that the very silence reminded him of space somewhat. Should he yell again? He wanted to but he understood now that those things found them because of his inability to be quiet. Which even still, he couldn’t calm down his rapid breathing. He’d never been able to run this fast nor this long on the Ark. Not even the treadmill like equipment allowed him to unleash his full potential. It was somehow exhilarating.

He was bent over, hands on his knees as he breathed. Even as warm as his body had become from the run, the cold air made his cheeks and ears cold. That part he was used to. The Ark was always cold. Now he began to wonder what he should even do. Clearly, he had no idea where he was or where he should go. He heard something close by and flipped around in that direction. His breathing increased again causing a chill to travel up his spine. Each way he looked he only saw pitch blackness.

Was something stalking him? That was even scarier to feel as if the enemy could see you while you were powerless. He could hear it but couldn’t see it and he was just wishing it would appear at this point to get it over with. Something fell beside him. A piece of bark or a branch. He leaned over just a little to make sure and then his eyes widened. By then it was too late for him to react.

Levi had leapt down from the trees and straight on top of Eren with enough force to knock the wind out of him for sure. No, it was enough to knock him unconscious. Eren laid there motionless on the ground while Levi stared down at him. This boy had caused so much trouble already. He had half a mind to leave him there, but he didn’t actually want him dead. So, he pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind as he tried picking him up. Eren was a tall boy but even so he weighed more than he looked. Good thing Levi was strong like an ox.

A few options on what to do with him came to mind. He could tie him to a tree, leaving him vulnerable to other threats. That way he could return to the pod and see who else survived and what Furlan and Isabel came up with. Or, since their original plan had gone south, things had changed. Now it might be smarter to wait out the night and deal with the aftermath in the morning. By now there couldn’t be but a few hours left until dawn.

Levi huffed and adjusted Eren on his back before going. Prior to the night, Levi knew where they were at. After all, he had scouted many miles with Isabel and Furlan quite often in the past. There wasn’t much else to do anyway but search the grounds, hoping to come across something – anything that could assist them in their daily lives. Or even provide answers to the monsters and reasoning behind their existence.

Checkpoints were made for reasons such as this. For when things took a turn for the worst, there was a place to go. Like a safehouse. Except, most checkpoints that they made were underground. With the right materials, it was a decent idea. Reapers didn’t tend to want to dig or even go out of their way looking. They functioned mostly on the sound of their prey.

It would take him some time to get there, but Levi was sure he was somewhat close to a checkpoint. At least then, they could wait out the night. It seemed awful to leave the area. Especially since he didn't know the status of the situation. Had the others been able to escape? Were his partners okay? If he could find the light of the moon again, he could see the stars that would assist in guiding him there.

Hopefully this brat wouldn’t wake up soon. Until he was able to restrain him, that is.

Chapter Text

Eren shifted uncomfortably. As he awoke, his eyes fluttered open. Ouch. His body hurt all over. He coughed but when he did, he felt a horrible pain in his side that had him inhaling sharply and recoiling into a ball. His hands were bound behind his back as he realized when he would have tried to grab at the area this pain was coming from. So, he laid there weakly, panting softly and letting his eyes adjust to the faint lighting. There was a little light emitting from what looked like a can or something. His eyes went from the can to the hands that were above it. This other guy was working on something or was just messing with something in his hands. What looked like a piece of string or thread hung from between his lips. His gaze fixed upon Eren for a moment and the movement of his hands stopped. That’s when Eren could see the silhouette what he was holding.

Clenching his jaw, he lifted his head, despite the pain. “H-hey! What are you doing? That’s mine!”

Levi lifted up a piece of a broken chain with his other hand and the key with his other. There was a new thread laced through the ring on the key.

“What did you do to it?” Eren growled at him.

Levi stood up even in this small, claustrophobic area they seemed to be in. He only had to hunch his shoulders over a little. Eren wouldn’t be able to stand up in here for sure. Feeling a little fearful, he whimpered and rolled over on his back like a frightened dog showing its belly in defeat as the other came closer to him.

“I fixed it for you, you ungrateful brat.” Levi knelt down beside him and placed the key next to Eren’s face so he could see it. “If you don’t like it, I know someone who can make it more to your liking. But it will hold like this for now.”

Eren hated that he felt his eyes watering a little bit just from looking at it. If he ever lost this key, he would feel so hurt like the very world would crumble beneath him. It was the most precious thing he had left from his parents.

Levi saw how quiet the boy had become and figured it was very important to him. Now he felt bad since it broke because of his doing. The only way he knew it had broken was the sound it had made hitting the metal floor of this checkpoint.

“I need to check your stitches. You’re not going to squirm or anything, right?” Levi reached over for the can that had a mini fire glowing inside of it.

Eren didn’t know who this guy was but he had no choice but to do as he says, right? He was in no place to make a stupid move nor did he have the energy to. So, all he could do was lie still while he watched this stranger push up his shirt a little to look at his side.

“Y-you, gave me stitches?” He asked, trying to see for himself.

“Pretty sure I gave you the gash also.” Levi said, moving to sit across from him. “But, yes.”

Eren was intrigued by this man. He wasn’t on the ship with them so that could only mean that he was from Earth. Well, he guessed he could only say that he hadn’t seen him on the pod. It wasn’t like he knew everyone that was on there. They were all strangers, really.

“Wanna see what you gave me?” Levi asked him with a bit of sarcasm as he held up his right hand that had a tattered cloth wrapped around it. Then he pointed to the side of his head. “Ah, by the way, that is an interesting device you have on your wrist there. Although I’m sure it’s purpose isn’t for bashing someone’s skull in.”

Eren tilted his head to the side as if to try and remember the wristband he was wearing. “Actually, I… I don’t know what it is at all.” As long as this guy didn’t act aggressive towards him then maybe things would be okay. He began to realize that he had been the one who started the scuffle. In his defense, he was scared and worried about his friends so he reacted without much thought. “But wait! Did you see my friends? What happened after I – I don’t remember what happened after I started running!”

“Hey, calm down.”

The other’s voice was oddly comforting but Eren was now really worried. “One of them is blonde and the other has long, dark hair.”

“At daybreak we will both go back and see what we find.” Levi scoffed. “You were being so difficult that I couldn’t really stick around to look for anyone else.”

Eren went to inhale deeply but he felt the stitches pulling at his skin and it caused him to let the breath out early and pinch his eyes closed.

Of course, Levi noticed. “Just don’t breathe.” He crossed one leg over the other in front of him.

“Err, how exactly do you expect me to not breathe?” Eren glared over at him, not getting Levi’s humor quite yet.

“Actually, just go back to sleep. Rest while you can. Around here, you better grab a wink of sleep if you can.”

Eren couldn’t go back to sleep now even if he wanted to. He had a lot of questions for this guy and even if he currently felt safe, he wanted to know him a little better. There was a long silence between them, and Levi had thought maybe he had gone back to sleep. But no.

“So, you survived the apocalypse?” Eren began. “How, exactly? Oh! Are you in contact with the Ark? We were supposed to be going to some kind of facility, but we have no idea where that is.” He hadn’t cared much about the Ark’s instructions until now. Now that he’s seen what horrors the night holds for them. They couldn’t stay outside another night.

Levi had many questions too, but he wanted to skip a lot of things that would probably be repeated. In other words, he wanted to wait for Erwin and Hange to be present so they could have a group discussion about this incredible discovery.

“I was just born into this world. I’m only surviving the aftermath of the apocalypse, three, maybe four generations later.” Levi’s icy stare fixated on Eren, but it was concerning look. “Am I right? Is that how long it’s been?” That was Hange’s estimate but he was curious to know if these so-called Ark people were keeping track of time and if they had technology that was beyond what any Earth survivor could imagine.

Eren wasn’t too upset that all his questions didn’t get answered right away. Or maybe they were indirectly answered. “I… I really don’t know.” He said with a bit of defeat. “But I have this friend that can tell you anything you want to know. I’m serious.”

Levi looked down into the can that was emitting a little light, hoping to steer away from talking too much right now but it looked like that wasn’t happening. People from the sky probably had no enemies so they could always talk freely as much as they wanted to wherever they wanted to. They probably had a luxurious lifestyle as well. He pondered a bit on that, finding it a little annoying that while they’re down here fighting for their lives every single day that they probably don’t have anything to worry about. But he shouldn’t jump to any conclusions like that. This pod filled with people was proof that something was about to change. It was, indeed, a little bit scary.

“Where are we, by the way?” Eren asked as he looked around the small area. “And is this really necessary?” For that second question he tried gesturing to his back since his wrists were still bound. It was pretty inconvenient.

“It is.” Necessary, Levi meant. “You have proven yourself to be rather wild for a space boy. I can’t take the chance of you freaking out on me again.”

Eren sighed. “Look, I know it looks bad but gimme a break. We were sent here blind and confused. Up there,” He rolled over onto his back completely even though he was aware they weren’t outside. “Everyone thinks that life ceases to exist down here. So, it’s amazing that I’m even talking to you and that we can understand each other.”

Levi listened as Eren talked. So, they were sent here, hm?

“What should I call you?” Eren asked, tilting his head over to look at the other again.

There was a bit of a delay. “We’re inside an automobile. There are many buried underground, which create helpful little pockets for us to seek shelter in. Or to get away from those damn things.” He tried to go around answering Eren’s last question. It only worked for a little while.

“Wow, really?” This time he couldn’t help himself and he did a sit up from where he was laying but it hurt a lot. He bent over and his face contorted with discomfort.

Levi exhaled and stood up, carrying that same lit can with him over to Eren. “Stop moving so much.”

Eren unveiled an eye and saw the key next to his lap. “Can you put that back on me before I lose it?” Then both his eyes opened, and he looked up at the other. “Or you could untie me, and I’ll do it myself.” He said with a rather snarky attitude.

That, in return, got him a fistful of his hair being grabbed and his head yanked back. “Ah, ow!”

Levi reached down with his free hand and picked up the key before letting go of him. “If you bite me again, I will break your kneecaps and throw you out.”

Eren just sat there quietly. That was an awful threat, but he wasn’t going to try anything anyway. While the other was doing his best to tie a tight knot in the dimly lit space they were sharing, he found himself tilting his gaze upward towards him. He wanted to see him better.

“What?” Levi asked as he continued and once he was finished, he pulled it from the back, choking Eren a little at first and making him cough and then clear his throat. But really, he was just checking the strength of the knot.

Eren glared, knowing he did that on purpose. “How long was I out?”

“About an hour probably. I had to go to the river to get some water to clean your wound with.”

Those bright green eyes fell half lidded. “I’m sorry.” He apologized hanging his head a bit. This guy had made sure he was okay even after everything. He felt like such a jerk right now.

Levi assumed he meant for biting him and causing a fuss. There was some movement and Eren lifted his gaze to see what happened. He was holding something up. A bottle it looked like.

“Thirsty?” Levi asked, already assuming that he was and moving closer to him.

Eren gave a weak nod but he froze when the other held the bottle up for him. His brows narrowed. “Can I do it myself, please?” He said please as if it were a painful word to speak.

“No.”

Fine then. Eren would have to get over it. He tilted his head back and the other put the rim of the bottle against his lips so he could drink. It surprised him when he didn’t drown like he was half expecting. After a few gulps of it, the bottle retreated, and his eyes stayed locked on the other. He didn’t know why they were even looking at each other right at this moment but they were stuck like that for a minute. Maybe he was expecting a different reaction? Or maybe this guy wanted to ask him something? Or the reason that made the most sense was that they were taking in each other’s existence. From ground to sky bound, they were the same and they were different. From two different worlds.

Levi finally moved back and went to pull something out of what seemed to be a well put together bag or a tiny looking backpack. The object was round, or kind of round, and about the size of a person’s fist. He pulled out a knife as he kicked back in the corner opposite from Eren and began peeling whatever it was. Eren just watched in fascination.

“What is that?” He couldn’t help but ask curiously.

How interesting.

“What does one eat in space?” Levi asked his own question first.

“Definitely not that.”

“Then what?” He pressed.

Eren did want it, whatever it was. “These nutrition packed disks. I would show you the size, but my hands are tied so.” He rolled his eyes.

“Don’t get an attitude.” Levi said while cutting the fruit into slices. “Next, I’ll make sure you can’t speak.” Scooting closer to Eren, yet again, he held out the piece of fruit to him but Eren leaned away from it. “What is it? My hands are clean.”

Eren exhaled through his clenched teeth. This guy was just messing with him now. “No way!” He was not eating out of a grounder’s hand.

Levi didn’t seem to care and just put it in his own mouth. The slight crunch only happened once and from then it sounded like something very soft to chew. Listening to him eat it only made Eren want it more. He was so irritating that Eren could hardly stop jittering.

“Okay, fine. Whatever. Just give me some of that.” Eren finally mumbled after about three slices of it gone.

Levi raised another piece to Eren’s mouth and while Eren felt completely humiliated eating out of a stranger’s hand he was also too hungry to care. He opened his mouth a little too quickly and the piece of fruit was pulled away slightly.

“If you bite me again, you’ll wish you were out there with them.” Implying the reapers as them.

Eren scoffed, “I wasn’t!” He growled, annoyed.

Levi put the slice into Eren’s mouth this time and he watched him carefully like he was looking after a small child. “Chew it up. You know how to chew your disc things, right?”

Eren was really just dramatically falling for this Earth food. It had flavor. He wouldn’t be surprised if he was drooling and he didn’t care. He didn’t even hear what Levi had asked him.

“You swallowed it whole didn’t you?” Levi cut the already halved slice in half again. “Idiot.” He put another one to Eren’s mouth, but he pulled his hand away swiftly to make sure his fingers didn’t make contact with the other’s lips. Not only was it gross but he didn’t know what kind of germs sky people could carry. He was probably already infected from the first bite anyway.

Eren just wanted to eat it so badly he would bite it once or twice and then swallow it. “I… I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s so good.”

“How do you know if you don’t taste it?” Levi retorted sarcastically. “It’s called a pear by the way.” The poor boy was so hungry that he let him have the rest of it. He recalled when he would take care of Isabel like this. Well, he didn’t feed her but back when they met, she was probably around this boy’s age and so clueless about the world.

Before their underground kingdom fell to the reapers, not many people knew how to defend themselves because up until then they didn’t have a need to. For many years the kingdom supported a community of survivors. Shielded by the earth and no need to venture out beyond, they were at peace. That is until there was a sudden discovery of an enemy that made itself known.

They were attacked and the city fell into ruin and despair. Levi had escaped with Furlan but just in time. They had no chance to help or save anyone; most of the people they knew, their families, their friends, perished along with the unground city.

He was sure that no one had survived. That is until he and Furlan found someone a few days later. She was being chased by these gross old men, who apparently survived the reapers also. Or maybe they came from elsewhere. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn’t of intervened though? It pissed Levi off. She was scared, hungry, but mostly dirty. It wasn’t like he could let her go like that. He really was the fantasy of a caring older brother. That’s exactly how she saw him and looked up to him with great admiration.

“Are you okay?”

Inhaling through his parted lips, Levi realized he had spaced out for a moment. He swallowed uneasily and began cleaning his hand off with a piece of cloth just in case Eren did have a disease or something. No, it wasn’t because of that. The boy was probably harmless. He just needed something to do.

Why did he have to think about her now? Even though she had come so far when it came to climbing trees and defending herself didn’t mean that he worried any less about her safety. He had to trust that Furlan hadn’t let her out of his sight.

Levi looked over at the other, their gaze connecting again for a few seconds. “You’ll address me as Captain. Nothing else. Say you understand.” He started shifting towards him, picking up the knife he’d used to slice the pear.

Eren nodded his head rapidly as he answered, “Y-yes sir! I got it.” Oh, he was throwing sir in there too? He felt a little scared though and moved back when Levi came forward. “Yes, Captain?” He said since he didn’t feel like Levi was okay with what he’d said. His shoulder was grabbed, and he yelped when his body was turned forcefully. This guy’s grip was unreal. It caused him tense up and duck his head while some weird, frightened noise escaped past his lips. “What?! What?! I said Captain!” He kept yelling and squirming around as that knife went out of his view.

His hands were freed.

Oh.

He panted as he brought his wrists to his chest and huddled there for a moment rubbing them. But his fear subsided, and he glared angrily up at Levi.

“Really?!” Eren snapped.

“I can only ignore your obnoxious voice for so long. I understand that you’re just embarrassed having eaten out of my hand like that.” Levi was inspecting the cracked glass of the window that was overhead. It was as clean as he could get it and it still wasn’t visible though, but it was still a bit dark. He felt of it with his hand. Cold. The morning dew wet his palm.

“Tsk,” Eren was embarrassed and had nothing clever to retort back at him. “You could have just let me do it myself.” He muttered under his breath.

Levi didn’t want to waste the energy fighting with him any more even though he could see that he was going to be difficult to get along with. He paused and looked back at him with a light huff of annoyance.

“What did you say, brat?” Even though he had heard him.

Eren didn’t like how his voice became scary so suddenly. If he didn’t want another injury, he should stop prodding him. It was true he never could get along with anyone. How he acquired Armin as a bestie was a miracle. Then he averted his gaze. He should try, that is, to be a little nicer to people.

“My name is Eren. Not brat.”

Levi took a moment to shake his bangs out of his eyes. “I didn’t ask for your name. I’ll continue to call you brat as long as you continue to behave like one.”

That made Eren’s eye twitch. He tried! This is what happened! A downright frustrating response is what he got in return. He put his hands in his lap and balled them into fists, exhaling deeply. He was trying to let this roll off his back but this guy was really trying his patience that he already had so little of.

“Is there a reason we are still here? I need to go to my friends.” Eren said, his voice rough and upset.

“The mist is just as dangerous as the dark.” Levi answered as he studied the wet, tilted window of the automobile’s door. “See for yourself.” He reached up and pushed the door open above their heads. Then he moved out of Eren’s way.

The younger boy slid over and kept his knees bent a little as he stood up and poked his head out of the open door. His jaw dropped at what he saw. Dawn was breaking the sky, providing the faintest amount of light. However, it wasn’t very helpful since their vision was still impaired.

“This is… mist?” His curiosity forced him to reach out and touch the wet grass in front of him.

“It will dissipate as the day grows brighter. The sun is our greatest friend.” Levi explained.

Eren glanced back at the other and was surprised by how he’d just done a double take at him. The light from the open door put out a better light than that little can of fire. He was able to see this man’s face now. Eye floaters slowly sprinkled around them, the light making them visible to their eyes now.

This behavior only confirmed what Levi already knew. This boy was weird.

Levi came forward, getting rather close to him.

Eren just waited, heart pounding oddly against his chest.

Levi reached his hand up slowly, keeping their eyes together…

…and quickly closed the door above them. Then, he moved away from him.

What the hell was that about?

“Wh-what does that mean?” He asked once he remembered the last thing that was said before he had to go and make himself look stupid. He rubbed his neck and was trying to make since of what had just happened and why he suddenly felt so awkward. It was really nothing, wasn’t it? Then he recalled that he had hit his head pretty hard during their landing. Surely that had something to do with it.

Levi disregarded Eren’s deadpanning. “To put it simply, reapers don’t come out in the sunlight.” Maybe Levi should quickly address a few things to him. “Their eyesight is poor but they’re not completely blind. They can detect light. So, the best thing to do is to be as still as possible. They’re listening for us. We’ve done experiments but its too much to explain right now.”

“Like a fire…” Eren frowned. Had their fire drawn out those creatures and when the fire died they hadn’t known where to go next? That could be a possibility of what happened. He had wandered off into the forest and stirred them up. An intense amount of guilt welled up inside him. What would he do if his curiosity had caused his friends to become hurt or lost? He couldn’t bear to think of something much worse than that.

“Yes, it is dangerous to build a fire at night. Although, you knew how to make one.” It just didn’t seem like people from space would know much about Earth. But he shouldn’t assume. They could be ten steps ahead of them for all he knew.

“I didn’t make it myself. My friend did.” Eren’s gaze was now looking down into the can with the little flames. “But we never expected this to happen. We thought it was a good idea.” He reached up and touched the key around his neck and slid his hands back to make sure it was well secured this time. It seemed like this Captain guy could tie a good knot since he tugged on it lightly to make sure it would hold.

Levi couldn’t help but wonder who their leader was exactly. Didn’t someone who was appointed in charge come with them from this Ark place? Did they really have no guide and was just sent to their death? What was the meaning of it anyway? It was such a mysterious situation.

“Once the mist breaks up a bit, we’ll leave. But you can’t start yelling like a psycho or running around like maniac. You'll notify predators and probably rip your stitches.”

Eren felt like he had no other option than to trust this man. After all, he had saved his life and afterwards had done several kind acts for him. He tilted his gazed up so their eyes met again.

“Yes, Captain.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sitting high up on a thick tree limp, Isabel fell asleep on Furlan’s shoulder. He might have slept a few minutes here and there, but it was easier to just say he didn’t. Too much had happened. A handful of reapers lay dead at the visible roots of the tree and the top of the pod was just starting to become visible in the distance over the foggy ground. The silence made it all too eerie. He wondered who was alive down there and scared out of their minds.

Isabel shifted but when she did Furlan grabbed her so she wouldn’t fall out of the tree. She reacted instantly by clinging back to his arm, remembering where she was and what had happened. Panting softly, she stayed like that for a few minutes while her heart slowed down and she woke up.

“Got anything to eat?” She asked sleepily.

“Sorry, no. Levi has them.” Furlan replied with a slight frown.

She made a pitiful noise and turned to hang her legs off the side of the limp and stretch her arms over her head as well as straighten her back. “He’s not back then.” She stated out loud. “Well, maybe we should go check on things.” Meaning down there. They should go see the damage and look for survivors. If there were any reapers that hadn’t migrated back into the darkness from which they came from they could dispose of them quickly.

“Alright, just don’t stray far from me.” Because he already knew that he was responsible for her. He knew how much Levi cared for her.

Isabel turned back around to look at him. “Did you sleep?” She asked, expressing concern for him.

He was already moving around to wake up as he answered her. “Yeah, about thirty minutes but I’m fine.”

“Furlan, no…”

“Don’t worry about me. I’m okay.” He winked at her before going down first, climbing from limb to limb until the last one that was closest to the ground gave just enough height for him to jump down without hurting himself. While he did a few more stretches himself, he waited for Isabel to join him back on the ground just seconds later.

“Kay then.” Isabel said as she turned, wanting to go about on her own. Sometimes she got the feeling like she was being watched like a hawk by Furlan. While she knew it was because he worried, it was also a little annoying. She could take care of herself as she’s proven so far.

“Do not wander, Isabel, I swear. Meet at the pod in a few minutes.” His words were so honestly laced with worry. He could only hear the scoffing and mumbling under her breath as she left his side to investigate elsewhere. At least he knew she heard him.

He went to the pod right away but what he saw was horrific. There were bodies everywhere, outside and inside of the aircraft. But it’s not like he hadn’t seen something like this before. At this point, blood didn’t bother him. From time to time he would stop and take a deep breath. These were just a bunch of kids is what it looked like. That made it a lot harder. What would they do if they couldn’t find anyone alive? He would feel like such a failure for that. If only they had taken a different approach. Maybe if they had spent less time watching them. He touched his chest as he felt his eyes began to water.

“Not again.” He muttered, forcing back the tears. It wasn’t the tears he was talking about. It was the fact that there was so much death all around them; a pod falls from the sky filled with people that had given them a ray of hope only to see utter despair that surrounded him now. It was heart wrenching. Was there any chance at a life again outside of the walls they had built? Would they ever be able to expand their community without suffering causalities?

Although, he then heard something. He felt how quickly his heart rate had suddenly spiked as he stood there waiting to see if he’d just imagined it. There! He could hear someone sobbing. Someone was alive! Carefully, he stepped over bodies inside the pod and he followed the crying voice. It was coming from the second floor of the pod. He went over to the ladder and shook his hands to try and stop them from shaking too much before he started to climb up carefully.

The top cylinder hatch was opened up already, so he just very cautiously peered up into the next room. He didn’t want to alert them because he was afraid that they’d close the gate and never come out then. It was when his eyes fell onto the sobbing girl that he reached up and placed a firm hand on the door so it couldn’t be shut on top of him.

“E-excuse me, miss?”

The blond girl flinched and grabbed whatever she could find to start throwing at him, while shouting for him to get back. Thankfully, her throws were sloppy so most of the items missed Furlan.

“Hey wait! Please stop! I’m here to help you, I promise!” He ducked his head as much as he could and let everything that did come at him, bounce off his shoulder. She was running out of things to throw so she hid behind a row of chairs that were still intact.

“Wh-who are you?!” She shouted. “What are you?!”

It was reasonable after all that she wasn’t trusting of him. After the night they had, no wonder she asked what he was.

“My name is Furlan. I came from Shiganshina to rescue survivors from this fallen aircraft. I know I’m a stranger and you have no reason to trust me, but I can take you somewhere safe, so you never have to see those creatures again.”

She was silent. He sounded like a very honest guy.

“What is your name?” He asked her.

Her name? Her mouth parted slightly, and her eyes widened as she looked straight ahead at the scorched metal wall.

“Would you feel more comfortable talking to a girl?” Furlan suggested since she was very quiet for a long time. Then he heard some movement and she poked her head halfway around one of the chairs to look at him.

“It’s okay.” She rubbed the tears from her eyes. “It’s just, I don’t know what to say because… no one has ever asked me what my name was before.”

Furlan didn’t understand. That was not what he expected to hear. Even still, he managed a smile. “Well, guess I’m the first one then.”

She was feeling really emotional right now because of this moment and could have started crying again if she hadn’t of wanted to introduce herself so badly. She took a deep breath and let it out shakily. Then she stood up, wobbling a bit, and looked directly at him.

“My name is Historia.”