A/N: Fuck it, I don't have time to rewrite this.
"This- this shouldn't be happening. What have you done?!"
Zeke stared in horror as the Paths began to fade, the sands disappearing into the ever-growing void. Eren, meanwhile, did nothing but smile.
Standing besides him, Ymir did the same.
"I did what I had to, brother. It's out of our hands now." The holder of the Founder spread out his arms and let the void consume him. "Things will change, for better or worse."
Zeke stared at him, his half-brother's betrayal causing a stinging in his eyes. "But Eren, the plan! Why would you do this?!"
Eren was silent for a moment.
I was born into this world."
Zipping across the District and catching the curious and shocked eyes of many onlookers, Eren sped to the Outer Walls with as much haste as possible, at last ready to make good on the plan he had formulated over the months since his return. Before leaving his home (would it still be there when he returned? Would his mother be there? He hoped so.) Eren had donned a hood from one of his jackets, not wishing to be recognized by anyone that might spot him, as many were doing at the moment, pointing at the figure speeding by on ODM Gear.
Offhandedly, Eren found himself missing the newer variant that Hanji and the Research and Development Department had engineered, even though he hadn't used it for the better part of a year after departing for Marley. Now back to using the basics, the Shifter found himself appreciating the upgrades the eccentric Commander had added to the Survey Corps' arsenal.
A wave of guilt passed through him. He had meant what he yelled at Hanji that day in the cells; while he objectively knew that the way he was headed down was the only way, some part of him hoped that there had been another road, another path branching out from the future Eren had thought to bring down upon the world.
Hanji hadn't been able to tell him, so Eren had continued walking.
And it had brought him here, to a Paradis unmolested by the fear of the Colossal and Armored Titans, to a world where both of Mikasa's parents were alive, where he had the ability to save his mother, where he could stop his father from sacrificing himself for Eldia.
So, so many deaths had led Eren here, and he'd be damned if he let them be in vain.
Arriving at the Walls, he looked out to the lands beyond Wall Maria, the last true bastion of Eldia remaining, and basked in the setting sun for a moment. If all goes well… I'll be doing this a lot more often.
His revelry was cut off when, from the forest directly beyond the Wall, a Titan of female proportions burst from the bush, and Eren could very faintly here the footsteps of hordes of Titans, a sound he had become all too accustomed too during his early tenure with the Survey Corps.
Stepping backwards, Eren backed away from the outer ede of the wal as far as he could go, then deployed his hooks to said outer edge, and placed his fingers on the ODM triggers.
Eren turned his head, taking a good look of Shiganshina, of Paradis, of his home, and absorbed it.
Then he brought his fingers down on the triggers, and with the experience of two lifetimes, flung himself from the Walls.
Let's do this.
Hanging on the shoulders of the Female Titan, Reiner let a frown overtake his face. While she would never admit it to them, Annie was growing tired, having been leading the horde of Titans for just over half and hour. The original plan had been to keep switching between the Female and Jaws Titans, but that was no longer plausible, with the loss of the Jaws so early on in the mission. Annie had pushed herself to the brink of extinction, but they were close enough to the Walls that Reiner could offer to trade places with her and avoid running out of stamina. "Annie, you wanna switch places?"
The Female Titan shot him a look out of the corner of her eyes, and shifted her head slightly. Reiner nodded. "Alright, let me shift first." Jumping off the Female Titan, he slit his palm with a knife and shifted into the Armored Titan, then turned to jog alongside Annie.
The Female Titan grunted, gently grabbing Bertholdt and placing him on the Armored Titan, then Reiner reached for her nape.
He never got the chance.
Just outside the Walls, high in the sky, the air rippled with telltale golden lightning, then struck the ground.
Both the Female and Armored Titans gaped.
"What is that?!" Bertolht stared.
There, where the lightning had struck only meters away from them, was a Titan of fifteen meters, tall and lean, green eyes glaring at them from afar.
The Warriors stared. No fucking way, Reiner thought to himself. He had expected the search for the Coordinate to be long, but this?
Had their goal revealed themselves to them?
Maybe Marcel's sacrifice'll be worth it in the end.
The enemy Titan began to stalk forward, letting out a roar as it did, and Reiner returned it with his own. Annie, never one for loud gestures, simply shifted into a combat stance.
Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it charged them, catching them off-guard, because it moved fast, faster than Reiner than expected.
Shit! Reiner thought, moving back to dodge a blow from the enemy Titan. Annie, unfortunately tired out from her constant use of her Titan, was not as fortunate of dodging the attack and the fist, which hardened just before impact, his her in the face, sending her flying back. Before the aggressor could take advantage of his fellow Warrior's weakness, Reiner stepped in between them, letting out another roar of challenge. I don't know who you are, but if you're the Founding Titan… I can't let you get away!
The enemy Titan, however, didn't roar back, only raising his arms to a defensive position and faced Reiner. Behind him, Annie got to her feet groggily and moved to circle.
The Titan looked at both of them, then fell into a combat stance, just like Annie.
No, exactly like Annie.
There was a momentary pause, then the Warriors charged.
Reiner struck first, launching a fist at the Titan, who jumped back and prepared to retaliate before Anniestruck its side with a skilled kick, knocking it back more. The enemy simply grunted before moving forward again, dodging the second kick from Annie and launching a hardened fist of his own, which clashed against her forearms, shielding her from the brunt of the blow, though the crystallic armor cracked slightly when the Titan hammered it again. It stopped it's assault, however, when Reiner rushed it, nearly managing to wrap it in his arms only for the Titan to duck away.
Putting some distance between them, Reiner gritted his teeth. Damnit, this guy's good. Better than me, probably. Annie's still tired from the journey here, and I'm mediocre at best...
Annie lumbered up beside him, trying her best to stay upright, and Reiner cursed inwardly. This wouldn't be happening if I hadn't lost Marcel…
The Armored Titan began to stride forward again, intent on building up a charge and bringing the enemy down. Said enemy was looking at him with a hatred in its eye that Reiner might have thought undeserved if he wasn't aware of his mission objectives.
Then, the Titan shifted his glare away from him to something behind him, and took a startled step back, as if remembering something.
Inside his Titan, Reiner paled.
So caught up in facing down their enemy the Warriors had that they had neglected to pay attention to the massive horde of Titans they had been leading here, and they were almost upon them.
Seeing no point in continuing the fight, Reiner backed up to Annie, and abruptly ripped her out of her nape, gently holding the now-unconscious girl in his hand. We need to make it to the Walls before the devils catch up to us. The problem was, that Titan (was it the Founder? If it was, then he would have used the Coordinate by now, wouldn't he?) was blocking the way, seemingly defending the Walls.
Reiner tried to remember how fast his friend could run.
All in all, the battle was going well in Eren's favour.
Annie was tired, Bertholdlt's transformation would only kill his comrades, and Eren as he was now was more than a match for Reiner. He had taken a few hits, sure, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. He dared not use the Warhammer's powers, however; on the off chance that one of them managed to get away, the less they could report about him, the better.
Then Eren managed to fight thorough the battle madness and remembered that Sweet Wall Maria, those are a lot of Titans behind them.
Even then, Eren felt relatively secure. Despite his novice skills in the use of the Warhammer's Titan abilities, he felt confident enough he could fight his way through the Titans long enough to find Dina (fucks sake, how'm I going to explain that to dad? Or mom?) and assume control over the Titans, so Eren planted his feet and raised his fists.
Then he noticed something.
Bertholdt was missing. Had been missing since the start of the fight, even. Eren had assumed that he was hanging on to one of his comrades, but Eren could clearly see that he wasn't being held by Annie, whose Titan was dissolving on the ground, and he wasn't clinging to the armor plates of Reiner.
Then, out of the conner of his eye, Eren spotted a flash of blood.
Blood that, say, could be spilled from someone falling from a Titan.
And Eren understood his mistake.
No. No, damnit, NO!
The Attack Titan turned and took of in a sprint to the Walls.
He was halfway there when the Colossal Titan erupted from the foot of Wall Maria.
This is close enough.
When the Titan had engaged his friend in battle, Bertholdt had jumped ship, somehow both figuratively and literally. Falling from Reiner's shoulder had been painful, but he had healed, and booked it for the Walls while their guardian was distracted. Which led him here, an appropriate distance away from the Wall to carry out the mission.
Hopefully, Annie and Reiner'll get here soon.
Hearing an anguished roar, Bertholdt turned back to see the enemy Titan making a mad scramble for the Walls, evidently realizing that he was missing. I don't know how you know my ability, the power I hold within, but…
It's too late.
Slitting his palm, he let the lightning consume him in a near-silent transformation, and found himself knealing in his Titan form. Gripping the Outer Wall with his hands, the God of Destruction brought himself up, and prepared to bring the devils of Paradise low.
Looking down into hell, Bertholdt rose.
People, just like him, or his family and friends and everyone he had left behind, going about their everyday business, many stopping and staring in fear at the behemoth that had shown up outside their Walls.
"It'll be horrifying for them. One day, you'll just show up out of nowhere and start killing them."
Bertholdt remembered those words, spoke at a dinner with his family two weeks before the operation began, and a part of him agreed with those words.
He almost felt sorry for them.
The Collosal Titan brought his leg back, and prepared to blow the gate apart.
Something caught his eye, and he shifts his gaze downwards a bit more.
And, to his surprise, there's a blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy staring defiantly at him.
Several things happened in the few seconds that followed.
He heard an enraged roar from behind him, the same from the enemy Titan, then he felt something go through his feet like a stake through a vampire's heart, effectively stopping his foot from moving and destroying the entrance to the Walls.
Were he able to look back, he would have seen two massive pillars of hardened Titan skin holding his feet in place.
Then he felt something, two things, actually, pinch into the back of his nape.
And then there was pain.
With a professional ruthlessness garnered from two lifetimes, Mikasa Ackerman tore the Titan's nape open, and revealed the Shifter to the world.