"The origin of 'Miracle Child' Zeke Jaeger's mastery over Pure Titans had, ever since it's discovery, been long debated by the Titan Biology Research Society in the years between his inheriting of the Beast Titan and the Invasion of Liberio. Upon its discovery, it had become a priority to trace the power to its source, to ascertain whether or not it could be replicated, or it it was just a chanced-upon power of the Beast. A good many theories had been proposed, and among the many, there was one, little-believed one- that Zeke Jaeger might have a drop of Royal Blood, for only the Fritz Kings of old had been known to control Pure Titans. However, the idea was merely a drop of water in an ocean of other, more plausible theories, a grain in a sea of sand.
Hindsight, however would prove that small theory correct.
For, several days after the destruction of the Nuudi'lo capital, and before all the dignitaries of the world, Dina Jaeger was reintroduced to the world as the long-thought dead daughter of Basil Fritz, the Despot of the Morean and (more fondly remembered among the Eldian diaspora as) the King Who Could Have Been- and with it, her connection to Zeke, her son, was brought into the light. And, from there, it did not take long for the authorities in Marley to put two and two together…"
- The Prince, The Chief, The Man, The Beast: a Biography of Zeke Jaeger (c.882), by Wendel Stratos
Twentieth Day of the Sixth Month, Jahr Unseres Gründers c.854
Fort Kattean, Dweit Territory, Continental Marley
The eldest son of Grisha had known something was wrong the moment Mobile Command had summoned him.
The summons had been brought in haste, at the tail-end of Zeke's shift for the day- the trench-lines had progressed quite nicely, regardless- instead of simply waiting the few extra minutes it would have taken for him to call it a day.
"It's the Oberkommando, Warchief," the messenger panted, evidently having speedily made his way down from the hillfort. "There's word from Osternau, straight from the telegraph. Generalmajor Magath requires your presence at once."
"Oh?" the Beast hummed, brow raised. It was somewhat odd, to hear the Generalmajor title come before his superior's name- the Marleyan having been a kommandant for most of Zeke's time as the Beast's Holder. It was a promotion well deserved, in his opinion. "I imagine it must be urgent, then."
"Of the utmost," the man nodded.
Nodding back, the Beast Titan knelt, and steam began rising from his nape. "Pieck, Marcel!" he called before exiting. "The Generalmajor called. I'll be finishing early."
A little ways away, the Jaw Titan returned the call with a nod of his own, and the Cart Titan returned the call with an amused huff. "Have fun," she returned. Tell Pokko I'll see him in an hour, if you pass him by."
Waving his affirmation to his subordinate's request, Zeke exited his Titan, adjusting his glasses as he slid down the Beast's carcass.
"This way, Warchief," the messenger directed, and the Shifter complied, unwrapping his dress-jacket from his waist and shrugging it back on. Marley was still experiencing the onslaught of summer, though the further north they went, the less the sun seemed to beat down on them… if only by a smidgen. A part of Zeke longed to finally reach the northern portion of Marley, even if it was to escape the wretched heat that had followed them from the Mid-East.
And, if not for that… Zeke wished to make northwards, for Liberio. For home.
Grandmother, Grandfather… are they alright? Are they still alive? What about everyone else?
Whilst the families of the other Warriors had been moved from the city ("better not to keep all our eggs in one basket," Calvi had said), it had been his that had been decided would be allowed to remain in Liberio- if only due to the fact that they were the oldest, and most frail. It had been something Zeke had been glad about, at the time, that his beloved grandparents wouldn't be torn from the home they had built for themselves through the many trials that had befallen their family.
And now, he mused bitterly, they might be dead. Reports from up north are garbled enough on the front lines, now… getting word from Liberio's been proving difficult.
Zeke grimaced. And then there was that business with the attack on the railway, by the presumed-to-be Attack Titan, of all things, thought lost for a century after Udynel fell. A good portion of the upper-brass dead, the troops delayed for at least a fortnight, and morale even more damaged now that the Grand Army had engaged the enemy and lost, no matter how little of an actual battle it had been, and more of a retrieval raid.
It did nothing to change the fact that the Eldians of Paradis had made significant and worrying advances all across the board.
The Jaeger frowned. I'll have to contact Yelena soon. The Paradis Island Operation is nonexistent, possibly forever, and I only have a few years left on my term… And if I die before… before then…
But he wouldn't. He couldn't. His and Xavier's dream hadn't been accomplished yet. Competing it had been made more difficult, yes… but, in their own way, the Eldian's invasion had brought him closer to his goal.
Soon, Xavier, he vowed as he entered the Oberkommando's temporary headquarters. Soon, we'll be able to put this farce behind us.
The Holder's thoughts were abruptly interrupted when the door behind him was slammed shut, and two Marleyan soldiers took places beside it. Zeke took a moment to digest the situation before him- all of the Generalmajor's staff had been assembled, the men and women who had been placed under Magath's command by the main Oberkommando now operating out of the capital. Nearly all of them were eyeing him with suspicious hostility, more so than the usual scorn. All except the Generalmajor himself, his ever-present grim face presenting the perfect mask for his emotions.
Something had happened again.
"Generalmaor Magath, sir," Zeke saluted, refusing to allow his slowly-growing apprehension show. "You called for me."
"I did," Magath confirmed. "Do you know why, Warchief Jaeger?"
"No, sir. Have I done anything to slight you? Or, has something happened that requires my debriefing?"
Magath tossed the newspaper onto the desk. "Do you recognize this woman?"
Zeke turned his gaze downwards.
"That…" he breathed, eyes widened. No. It can't be. It can't. "N-no, that can't be right. This can't be real." His voice was shaky, uncertain in a way it hadn't been since his last words shared with Xavier. "She should be dead!"
Her face was slightly older. Eyes dulled by the lack of colour the paper presented. A few more lines on the face, here and there, the telltale signs of aging. A woman at her side who he didn't recognize- but, there were two, on the paper, and even if he wanted to, he could never forget the first.
Zeke Jaeger stared at the paper in abject disbelief, and the face of his mother stared back.
BASIL FRITZ'S DAUGHTER RETURNS FROM THE DEAD, the headline blared, and his word turned to a spiraling descent.
She's dead, he chanted to himself. Dead or Titanized. She can't be alive, after all this time, It isn't- it can't-
But can't it? A treacherous part of his mind whispered. You know for a fact that the ships that took mother and father to Paradis never returned, and were never found. Who knows what might have happened? Who might have interfered?
But, if she was live, then wouldn't that imply that Grisha-
The sound of folding paper cut through his thoughts, and Theo Magath's face came back into view, no longer eerily calm, but silently livid.
"You have a lot to explain to us," Magath's eyes narrowed, "Zeke Fritz."
A/N: Laptop broke. I use Google Docs anyways, but not having my personal device kinda helped do me in on writing. And the muse shriveled up as well, because of COURSE it did.
But here, take this!
Next time, for sure, we're going back to Eren. Man's still got to meet his grandparents for the first time, after all.
And yes, I've read all your comments several times over. They breath life into my dying muse... though if only I could write as often as I read them lmao