Eren growls as the Jaw and Cart Titans escape the headquarters, leaving him with nothing but to stare as the aircrafts above his hometown deploying soldiers. Marley's invasion...they shouldn't be ready for such a feat, not even after a month of recovery. "Could it be… That Marley has come for an ambush that puts their lives at risk? These bastards would not be committing this danger with just the info they have."
"Eren! Can you hear me?" Turning his head, he looks down to the leader of the volunteers, Yelena. "Please come out of your Titan! Go hide inside the building and escape underground using the power of the Warhammer Titan! It's disadvantageous to fight like this!"
Eren takes note of their worries, but he has never backed down from a fight. Moving forward, he leaps off the roof of the headquarters into the street below. Looking up, he spots a single parachute heading his way, and based on the number of already shifted Titans, it doesn't take any time for Eren to figure out who it is. "Come on… Reiner. Is it you? The one who pushed Marley to commit this idiotic act?" A flash of light and a cloud of steam later, the Armored Titan makes his way to the Attack. With two roars, the clash of the Titans begins.
"Reiner," the young warrior candidate shouts as she recognizes the roar of the Armor. "He came for us…"
"Pieck! Over here!" Pieck climbs a building and releases Gabi from her mouth. Not a moment later she's grabbed into a hug. "Gabi!"
Is he...showing affection? If he is, it is gone a moment later as he holds her shoulders with a stern expression. "Braun, you imbecile! Who ordered you to run into enemy territory?"
"Just acting as you please."
"Gabi!" A younger soldier approaches her, one that puts a smile on her face.
"What about Falco? Where is he?"
Gabi gasps as she turns towards the building she just left and points to it. "He is still inside that building. He ingested Zeke's spinal fluid and is imprisoned there."
"Falco is being imprisoned with 300 enemy soldiers who also drank the spinal fluid," Pieck, still in Titan form, informs. "Aside from them there are currently 500 soldiers here. It also appears Zeke isn't here yet."
"We came here in accordance to Reiner's worries," Magath states, "but what about the possibility of the enemy exercising the Power of the Founding Titan?"
"I don't know. But it seems certain the Founding Titan is their hidden card. My guess is since they still haven't used it seems to show that Eren is still not in a state to trigger it."
"Is there a necessary condition to trigger it?"
"But all those sacrifices made for the Founding Titan and the Titan carrying royal blood will all be worth it once they bring the freedom of the Eldian people." Gabi gasps as she looks up to the general. "'But all those sacrifices made for the Founding Titan and the Titan carrying royal blood'... I heard Zekek say those exact words inside the airship that was withdrawing from Marley."
"What does that mean," Colt asks. "That Zeke is a Titan that has royal blood?"
"...It would be possible if his parents were leaders of the Restorationists."
"If there's a basis for his abilities then wouldn't it be true? If the reason they can't use the Power of the Founding Titan is related to Zeke's absence, then we can't let Zeke and Eren come into contact!"
A crash from behind Gabi but far off from the group alarms her. Reiner is currently engaged in a fight. "General Magath! Reiner is-"
"Marley's shield isn't that soft," Magath states as he climbs aboard the installed weapon on Pieck's back. "No, he is not the shield protecting Marley. Right now, the whole fate of the world is on our shoulders. We're not going to kill the Founding Titan and postpone solving the problem. Today, we're going to eat the Founding Titan here and put a stop to the 100 years of hatred!
Holding Reiner's head, Eren socks him with a crystallized fist, breaking the armor plating on the Armor Titan's right side of the face. Reiner tries to respond with a fist of his own, but Eren hits the same spot again with his left fist, almost removing Reiner's mandible. As he throws another punch, the kneeling Reiner ducks and tackles Eren, forcing him to the ground. Eren, however, kicks Reiner away and gets back to his feet.
As he does so, he senses a presence coming from behind, the Jaws. Forming spikes on his back, Eren hopes to impede the agile Titan's movement, only to have the spikes slashed apart. That distraction allows the Armor to grab the Attack's head, hoping to rip it off while the Jaws leaps on the Attack's back to consume the nape.
Or so they thought.
The Attack Titan glares at the beaten face of the Armored Titan and the Jaws that just joined the fight, both warriors impaled by crystal spikes formed by the power of the Warhammer. Alone, he cout take either one, but multiple intelligent Titans will make him ineffective, even with the Warhammer's abilities. But with the Jaegerists coming into the fray, they should be about to-
What the hell just hit his head?
"Load the next round quickly!"
Magath sighs as he readjust his aim of the cannon on Pieck's back and keeps his eye on the Attack Titan's cranium. "I'm the commander in chief. To think that the best hunter here in Marley is the supreme commander… The Marleyan Army has also fallen to quite a low point." Near the Titans' gunfire from the ground and the skies hails down on Paradis' soldiers. Reiner and Galliard are freeing themselves, with the latter making it back to Eren's nape. Eren forms more spikes, which Galliard escapes from, and Magath fires again, dealing more damage to the Titan and the human inside.
"I'll make that son of a bitch use his strength. The Power of the Warhammer Titan is strong but his energy will be spent quickly. Don't forget this ambush is only possibly thanks to Willy Tyber's sacrifice. Just as he risked his life to tell us, we need a true hero like Heros. A hero who will save the world."
Reiner picks up one of the crystal spikes and stabs Eren's left shoulder. Grimacing, he looks at the Attacks horribly disfigured face."Eren, it's over… You lost. You don't have to make any more people suffer more than you already have. You don't have to suffer more than you already have."
More crystal spikes appear, some penetrating Reiner's armor. Defending himself as best as possible, Reiner grits his teeth. "In any case, you and I will die in a few years. No matter how much we struggle...everyone dies." From above and behind, Galliard attempts to attack Eren's nape, only to be swatted aside like a fly. Reaching forward, Reiner grabs Eren's head and places it on the ground and lowers his own mouth upon Eren's nape. "What's left for you...if you keep on living? I'll end it for you, Eren. Give up already. Just...sleep."
With another roar, Eren inserts his hand in Reiner's mouth, trying to dislocate the lower jaw. He struggles, but then Reiner's face is smashed by a projectile from somewhere. Toppling away from Eren. Looking up, he sees a cloud of smoke on top of the wall...and the Beast standing upon it.
"I somehow finally arrived at our appointed meeting place and yet, it seems I was a bit late. You heroically withstood them all by yourself, Eren. Now leave the rest to your big brother…"
"Onyankopon," I say with a slight sneer as the dark-skinned volunteer comes with a key ring and begins to open the cell door. "What is going on?"
"The Marleyan Army attacked from the sky with their blimps! Approximately 500 soldiers got attacked by the Armor, Jaw, and Cart Titans simultaneously. Eren is facing them alone! He's desperately struggling, but… He'll get done in sooner or later. The Founder will be stolen by Marley! Please lend him a hand! Support Eren with everyone!"
As soon as the cell doors are open, Connie snatches Onyankopon and pushes his back against a wall. "Stop bullshitting me, bastard! Who the fuck is "everyone"? That's your fight! You thought we'd obey this fucking traitor?"
"S-Sorry, but if I opposed Yelena, I'd just get my head blown up…"
"Huh? You acting nice with us was all part of your plan to seize paradis Island behind our back! Enough! I had enough of being betrayed! By Reiner, Bertholdt, Annie, Eren, I'm fucking done with this shit! Why? Why would we have to assist Eren and become unable to have children? Oi?"
"Conny, release him," I command. As much as I agree with Connie, I share his sentiment, but choking Onyankopon will get us nowhere. Begrudgingly Connie follows my command, allowing Onyankopon to breathe, but I'm not done with him. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I...really did not know about the wine or the euthanasia plan. Same for the other volunteers."
"I think it's true," NIcolo interjects. "Yelena forbid us to speak to the volunteers about the wine."
"Above all, I don't want to help wit the euthanasia of Eldians! We wanted to develop Paradis Island and defeat Marley together! We abandoned everything and came to this island for this purpose! We devoted ourselves for the sake of everyone on this island. We could do it because we believed in this island's future! Children are the future! If this euthanasia plan were to be implememnted...then what is it we even came here to do? Please believe me!"
"I believe you," Armin says after a moment of silence. "You said back then that everyone exists because someone wished for them to exist, including the Subjects of Ymir. Because it would be more interesting if different kinds of people existed, right? You showed that your stance completely opposes Zeke's ideology. You were always thake kind of person. Now get up, Onyankopon."
Onyankopon takes Armin's hand and rises to his feet. Sighing, knowing time is of the essence, I speak up. "I believe you too, but if we help Eren and Zeke, the euthanasia plan will be executed, right?"
"No, we'll impede the plan. But if these two are lost, then this island won't be able to protect itself from the world armies."
"Well then," Connie shouts, "what the fuck are you saying we do?"
"We must at least once let the world witness the power of the rumbling…"
"Mikasa," Armin says, "what do you want to do? Do you want to help Eren?"
She looks away. "I do...but that's surely like Eren said. It's because I'm...an Ackerman, that's not my own free will."
"I think that's a lie Eren made up," Armin states.
"The fact that I get headaches from time to time is true. Why would you think it's a lie?"
"Why, you say? Eren wishing for Eldians to become completely unable to have children… Do you guys seriously believe that?"
"Well," Jean says, "I did think that wasn't like him, but to go as far saying it's impossible…"
"But it is impossible, right? Isn't it Eren we're talking about?"
"Well then why? Why doesn't he oppose Zeke and Yelena?"
"It doesn't matter if he doesn't oppose them! The one who makes the final call on how to use the Power of the Founder is Eren himself! From the moment Yelena made her proposal to him, Eren had no choice but to do this! If he refused, then I don't know what method Yelena used. But if he showed his agreement and managed to have her believe he was their ally, then he could protect this island with the rumbling! Moreover, the moment he activates this rumbling is now that the main forces of the world nations are gathering in Marley. Just as planned, awakening just the few hundred of Titans in the walls of Shiganshina is enough. If the world's strongest armed forces are annihilated, then from now on no one will be able to lay their hands on Paradis for the next 50 years."
Jean tsks. "I've been saying ever since we were trainees that this guy was dangerous. Eren is leading us all straight to hell. A real piece of shit, that guy. And that bastard, I envied him because he was so damn cool. It irritates me to no end, but… I don't want that guy to die yet."
Conny nods angrily. "Well. if he kicks the bucket now, I won't be able to sock him."
I look to Mikasa, seeing her conflicted expression. Eren has lots to answer for and he can't do so if he's dead. "Very well. We'll help Eren. Onyankopon, release the other soldiers and get us to Commander Pyxis."
I turn to the Braus family, then to the chef who Sasha adores."Nicolo, I am trusting you with Sasha's family." He nods as I walk over and kneel down in front of Kaya. "Hey, can I ask a favor of you?"
"Hold on to this." I take the necklace around my neck, placing it around hers. "A friend of mine gave me this before I graduated from training. She gave it to me as a good luck charm, and so far, it has served me well. It should work with you too. So...in case you don't see me after this fight, give it to Big Sis, alright? She'll know where to find me." Kaya nods, so I stand up and rub her head as I turn to Mr. Braus. "That doctor is in Stohess. Show him the note I gave you, he knows what to do."
Minutes later, I walk outside followed by the rest of the 104th. The five of us aren't alone either. Yelena sits on the ramparts, enjoying the show as a blimp descends in a fiery cloud towards the inner wall of the town. "The gate of Shiganshina District has been blocked. Zeke has taken down the ship. The moment that's going to change history is almost here." I walk beside her, seeing Zeke throw debris towards the city. Following the projectiles, I can see the top of Eren and Reiner's Titans, the latter battered by the projectiles.
"Do they even need our help?"
"Why is Zeke here," Jean questions. "There's no way Lieutenant Levi would have set him free. Oi, what happened to Levi and Hange?"
"Seems obvious they must have been defeated by Zeke. He showed up at the time and place he had agreed on with Eren like he had promised to."
"That's too bad," Armin suddenly shouts, "but there's no other way. It's in order for Zeke and Eren to save the world! Let's join the Jaegerists and help them come into contact!"
Yelena suddenly stands up behind Armin and gives him a weird glare before smiling. "Please help Eren and Zeke. I trust you, Armin."
"Whatever," I say as I turn my attention to my hometown. I frown as I look towards the northern inner gate where Zeke stands, remembering Reiner smashing through and killing my parents. Remembering us standing on top of that wall, and my descent as I struck first against Reiner in a failed attempt to assassinate him. Remembering Commander Eren's and the Scouts final daring assault on Zeke that result in all except Floch and Levi's deaths. Turning to the south, I spot the location where Bertholdt nuked the city, killing Moblit and most of the Scouts in the area, Hange the only survivor. Then there's the southern wall, where the nightmare began when Bertholdt breached the wall. It's only fitting that the battle that decides the fate of the world is fought in Shiganshina of all places. "Mikasa, Armin, Jean, Connie, you know the plan. Whether we like to or not, protecting Eren is the priority. We cannot let Reiner and the Marleyans take the Founding Titan. We must win."
"The fate of humanity will be determined at this very moment! There is no future where humanity can inhabit these lands without Eren!"
I hope you're still right to this very day, Commander Erwin. I slap my fist against my heart, the others following suit. "Dedicate your heart! Advance!"
Gabi and Falco
"Looks like they're gone already. Let's go as well," Colt says to the two kids hiding behind him, Gabi and the recovered Falco, brought to the pair by a man named Nile.
"Gabi," Falco says with concern as the girl sits sad and quiet.
""There were no devils on this island. There were only people. Finally I understand Reiner's feelings. We… These people that we had not even ever seen, all of them, we decided they were all devils. In the airship I climbed, always the same thing, repeating always the same thing… I'm sorry, Falco. Even though you understood, I dragged you into this."
Falco drops his head, sighing. "I...supported the attack on Liberio...without knowing that the wounded soldier in the hospital was Eren Jaeger. I kept sending his letters to his comrades outside the district. And so many were killed in Liberio. So… Udo and Zofia died because of me."
"Also… I like you… I became a warrior candidate because I didn't want you to inherit the Armored Titan. I wanted you to live a long life so you could marry me and be ."
Gabi starts to blush. "What...are you saying?"
Falco drops his gaze, hiding his own red face. "Since I might become a Titan… Now I don't...have anything left to say anymore."
Gabi reaches out and rips the black armband around Falco's left arm, the symbol of a drinker of the spinal fluid for Paradis' army. Standing up, she smiles at Falco. "Let's go."
"If Zeke knew you ingested the spinal fluid," Colt says as he turns away, "that'd prevent him from screaming, maybe."
"There are too many enemies!"
"We can't get close to Eren!"
"I liked it better when our enemies didn't have guns!" Bullets whiz by us as the troops of Marley pin us down just a few streets over from Eren. As someone pointed out, we can't move, else we'll get peppered by gunfire. I prefer to not look like cheese when I die.
As for our Titan, Eren is nearly approached by the Jaw Titan, but the Beast and his fantastic throwing ability prevents such an encounter. But even then, that's the worst of our problems. We can't let Zeke and Eren meet, even if Eren is not fully on Zeke's side. It is a risk I'm not willing to take-
A powerful shot from somewhere north of us echoes across the city, but furthermore, it hits Zeke in the shoulder. Following the trail, I see a cloud on the northwestern part of the outer curve. Is that the Cart Titan? Makes sense, if it's carrying a weapon on its back. Whatever it did, it caused Zeke to fall down to earth from his mighty perch.
Eren races for his fallen brother, but Galliard and Reiner are right behind him. From the wall, another shot is fired. From my limited range of view, Eren takes the shot to the head. So that's their plan. Kill Zeke, immobilize and eat Eren, but more importantly, prevent them from meeting.
"It's the Cart Titan," Armin says. "We need to do something about it first!" Armin heads off first, only for Mikasa to come behind him and grab him.
"Armin!" She shifts him out the way while Connie fires a Thunder Spear at a building, annihilating two Marleyan soldiers.
"We can't pass from here either," Jean shouts.
"It's full of enemies inside the houses as well!"
I click my tongue. "For now, we'll have to let the Cart hold Eren in place. We'll deal with Marley's soldiers." I look down, seeing Commander Pyxis and the other soldiers who drank the spinal fluid follow behind him.
"Get around them! Let's catch the enemy soldiers from behind!"
I turn to the 104th. "You heard him! We'll attack from behind with the others!"
"I've fallen...to the ground...was I...shot?" Zeke groans as he looks at the battle of Titans just meters away. Eren, grounded under Reiner's hold as he desperately tries to prevent the unification of brothers. "Eren…"
"Wake up, Porco," Reiner says. "We're almost done! Muster up your strength!" Galliard, however, doesn't move an inch, his Titan brutalized and limp behind Reiner and Eren. But for now, Reiner has the upper hand, and Pieck has that cannon on her. There's only one thing left for Zeke to do.
He lifts himself up on his arms, looking towards Eren. "Eren… Now… I'll call the Titans!"
"Wait! Please wait!" Zeke turns, widening his eyes in surprise as his successor, Colt Grice, drags his little brother towards Zeke. "Falco, he… He has accidentally ingested your spinal fluid! Don't scream!"
"You know it, right, Zeke? I took the right of succession to the Beast so that my family won;t be sent to heaven! To be honest, before you betrayed us I never understood what you were thinking at all, never. But… I don't think you'd be the type of person that would allow children to be involved so easily! I don't mean to tell you to just keep silent like that and die! I only want you to wait until Falco gets out of the range for the scream to be effective! After that, you're free to kill each other as much as you like! The Marleyans and the Eldians can kill each other all they want, but please don't involve my little brother!"
Zeke grits his teeth and sighs. As much as he'd like to wait and save Falco… "Colt. Your feelings towards your little brother, I understand them well…"
"That's why… It's a pity..."
Zeke faces the sky and bellows a roar that rocks the city of Shiganshina with lights and explosions. Across the city, Titans form from those who ingested Zeke's spinal fluid, unleashed upon both soldiers of Marley and of Paradis. Still unable to muster his strength, Zeke, with true sorrow in his heart, issues a command to the tall Titan close by. "Do it...Falco. Kill Reiner." Falco charges at Reiner, only to be pinned down by the Armored Titan.
"Going up against three Titans is impossible. Eren will most likely escape… To be beheaded by Falco… I…" Stuck between holding both Falco and Eren, the latter tries to escape, only to be held by his ankle. Distracted, Reiner relaxes his hold on Falco, so the Titan picks itself up and threatens Reiner's nape.
Another shot from the wall penetrates the Beast Titan, this time very close if not exactly Zeke's nape. Eren and Reiner stare at the smoldering Titan of Zeke. "Is it...over? Eren can no longer use the Founding's power. We...accomplished our mission. It's okay if I...let go now, right? I only have to undo the hardening on my nape...pass the Armored Titan to Falco and… It'll be the end for me." he turns to the young girl nearby as he hears the plating of his nape being crunched. "Gabi… If it's only Falco, I can have him go back home… The one to inherit the Armored will be Falco...Huh?"
Falco's mouth suddenly lifts off Reiner's nape, and Reiner sees why. Out the smoldering remains of the Jaw Titan walks out its bearer, Porco Galliard. His face is badly damaged as he walks out, staring at Reiner. "I used up all the power to heal my body. However, I won't drop dead for nothing."
"I saw my brother's memories, how he deceived the army and made you a warrior to protect me. This way I made it crystal clear, right? That until the end I'll always be better." Falco lunges forward, consuming Galliard mostly in one bite.
Reiner looks in sorrow as the rest of the second Galliard brother is swallowed. "Was that Galliard? Did he do it...to save Falco?"
"AAAAAAAARGH!" Eren bites down on Reiner's arm and hardens his body, trapping Reiner. From the hardened body exits Eren, giving Reiner the side eye before running towards his brother.
"No way!" Further ahead, Reiner catches the crawling form of Zeke, the human somehow still alive. With a roar of his own, Reiner breaks free and reaches out for Eren with his undamaged hand, only for it to explode. One of those damned spears...and it comes from none other than Joshua.
As he turns his glare away from Reiner, he points to Zeke. "Get to Zeke before Eren does! Don't let them meet!"
"Eren! Come here!" Eren races as fast as he can towards Zeke as Joshua and the 104th descend from the sky. But all of them are too late as a single shot is fired from Eren's right, an anti-rifle in Gabi's hand.
And fly Eren's head into Zeke's waiting hand...