The Armored Titan rushed toward Wall Maria, pulling ahead of the Titan horde behind it. It held Annie in its left hand, and Bertolt in its right.
As it got close to the wall, it stopped and lowered its right hand to the ground, allowing Bertolt to hop off.
Reiner glanced over his shoulder anxiously. There's more Titans than we expected. We need to hurry. Bertolt, we're counting on you.
A moment later, Bertolt had reached the gate and transformed into the Colossal Titan.
The light from the transformation was bright, and it shook the ground and air around it. The vibrations it produced were so strong that many of the residents of Shiganshina were thrown off their feet.
Armin brushed himself off and got back to his feet. "What was that?"
"I don't know." Eren said uncertainly.
Several people nearby began to move toward the town square to try to see what had happened, and a moment later Armin followed them.
"Armin, what are you doing?" Eren cried. He and Mikasa quickly took off after their friend.
The crowd of people in the square were standing still, staring in shock up at the wall, and Armin's wide eyes were gazing in the same direction.
Eren and Mikasa caught up with him before long.
"What's going on?" Eren asked. "Some kind of explosion, or…"
He gasped as his eyes fell on the same thing that everyone else's had.
A massive red hand was gripping the top of the wall.
"No." Armin murmured. "That's impossible. That wall is fifty meters high!"
"Oh god." Eren whispered. "It's a Titan!"
Bertolt peered over the wall for a short while before leaning back and kicking the gate open, showering the outer district with debris and creating an opening in the wall.
His job finished, the Colossal Titan slumped down, and Bertolt emerged from the nape.
Reiner's eyes widened. He did it! Bertolt…
Suddenly, he was overwhelmed. So caught up by the spectacle of the Colossal Titan breaking down the wall, Reiner hadn't paid close enough attention to his surroundings, and the horde of Titans had caught up and were now trying to devour him and Annie.
Fortunately his armor protected him, and he was able to shake them off without too much difficulty.
But during the time it took him to fight them off, he noticed something horrifying.
Oh no! A Titan is about to reach Bertolt!
He ran as fast as he could, desperately hoping he would get there in time.
But he was too far away. As Bertolt descended his dissolving Titan body, he saw the smiling Titan emerge through the steam, its nightmarish gaze fixed upon him.
"AAH!" He cried.
He looked around, trying to figure out what to do. He knew he couldn't transform again, as even one transformation took quite a toll on his body, so he needed to escape.
But before he could come up with a plan, the Titan's hand reached forward and plucked him off of the Colossal Titan's body.
"NO! LET ME GO!" Bertolt screamed.
But before he could say anything else, the Titan raised him to its mouth and bit down, severing him in half and swallowing his head and torso.
Reiner stopped running, and fell to his knees in abject horror.
No...this can't be happening...not Bertolt too…
This proved to be a grave mistake, because it gave the horde a chance to catch up, and it immediately dogpiled him once more.
His mind clouded with grief, Reiner was too slow to react, and one of the nimbler Titans was able to reach through his defenses and snatch Annie out of his grasp.
Before he could stop it, the Titan tossed Annie into its mouth, swallowing her whole.
At the sight of his last friend being eaten, and realizing that he was the only one left, Reiner lost it.
The Armored Titan screamed, its cry echoing for miles on end, and all at once it went still, as if its spirit had suddenly fled its body. It showed no reaction at all as the Titans tried in vain to bite and tear through its armor, breaking their teeth and splintering fingernails in the process.
The Titan that had eaten Bertolt stood still for a moment, grinning as it savored its meal, before slowly walking over to the ruined gate. But before it could reach it, it abruptly collapsed to the ground, and steam began to pour out of its body.
The Titan that had eaten Annie collapsed as well, and while most of the horde was still trying to eat the Armored Titan, a few switched to their compatriot, sensing that a human was about to emerge and determined to eat the Female Titan.
Most of the horde was occupied by the task of trying to eat the Armored and Female Titans, but a handful of abnormals sensed the crowd of humans inside the wall, and so ignored them, and also ignored the collapsed form of the grinning Titan, instead opting to go for the humans that had been hidden from them for so long.
As the abnormals entered the breach, the crowd of stunned Shiganshina citizens finally gave in to their fight or flight instincts, and began to flee toward the inner gate, screaming as they did so.
"We have to go." Armin whispered.
He looked at his friend in alarm. "Eren, no!"
Eren walked numbly forward, his expression horrified. "My house is over there. My mother…"
He abruptly took off running, and Mikasa soon followed behind him.
"Mikasa!" Armin cried.
He held out his hand as if to stop her, but then noticed that it was trembling. He placed his other hand over it in an attempt to calm himself down, but it didn't work.
"This...this is the end…they're inside...we...every last one of us is going to be devoured!"
Eren and Mikasa ran down some of the side streets, heading in the opposite direction of everyone else. They noticed a few people weeping next to the mangled corpses of those crushed by pieces of debris from the wall, but Eren had only one thing on his mind.
Our house is fine, our house is fine, you'll turn the corner and it's going to be standing there in one piece, just like always!
He and Mikasa rounded the corner, and were horrified by what they saw.
Their house had been crushed by a particularly large boulder, and had all but collapsed. And trapped underneath the ruins of their home…
"MOM!" Eren screamed. "MOM!"
Carla stirred and opened her eyes, a look of surprise on her face.
Eren pointed at the other end of the beam that was pinning his mother down. "Mikasa, grab that end and hoist with everything you've got!"
Eren and Mikasa wrapped their fingers around the beam and pulled with all their strength, but their young bodies were too weak to make it budge.
Eren froze as he heard a booming noise in the distance, and as he looked over he could see several Titans wandering into the city over the rooftops, following the crowd of people.
He looked sharply at Mikasa. "Hurry up, dammit!"
"The Titans are inside, aren't they." Carla said grimly. "Eren, just take Mikasa and run! Now!"
"I want to more than anything!" Eren yelled as he tried in vain to pull the beam. "But first I need you on your feet!"
Carla swallowed, trying to push down her fear. "Sweetie, listen to me. My legs have been crushed. Even if you could get me out of here, I can't run. There's no time."
Eren's eyes widened as he realized what she was suggesting, but quickly rejected it. "Whatever, I can carry you!"
"WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO ME FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE?!" Carla screamed. "ONE THING I'M ASKING YOU, ONE THING! MIKASA, MAKE HIM!"
Mikasa shook her head and continued to try to lift the beam. "...I can't."
Carla looked at them desperately. "You want all three of us to die?"
Just outside of the ruined gate, the smiling Titan's body had dissolved completely, and Dina's naked body was exposed to the world for the first time in over twelve years.
She slowly sat up, her head feeling groggy, and her eyes were quickly drawn to the massive wall in front of her.
Her eyes traveled up to the top and back down again.
Huh. A...a wall?
The next thing she noticed was the ruined, gaping hole in the wall from where the Colossal Titan had kicked in the gate.
And...there's a hole...in the wall?
She became aware of some kind of loud commotion behind her, and she turned around to see the Armored Titan being dogpiled by a horde of Titans.
Her eyes widened in shock. What the hell?
As she looked at the Titans, her memories suddenly came back to her.
She remembered seeing her fellow comrades turned into Titans. She remembered seeing Grisha, promising to find him again someday, a sharp pain in her neck, and being kicked off of the wall…
She glanced back and forth between the hole in the wall and the Armored Titan, her mind racing.
I see...this must be Wall Maria. And that hole...Marley must have started their mission to reclaim the Founding Titan. And since I've regained my human form, that can only mean that my Titan self must have eaten one of Marley's Warriors.
She froze as she remembered that Zeke had been a Warrior cadet.
No...I couldn't have eaten Zeke...could I? No...probably not...but…
The thought of eating anyone, let alone her own son, made her nauseous, and all at once she bent over and vomited on the ground, her chest heaving.
As she finished emptying the contents of her stomach, she felt a series of nearby vibrations rumbling the air. She looked up and saw a Titan walking right past her, its movements stiff and unnatural.
She shrank back in fear. Why is it ignoring me?
She glanced back at the horde dogpiling the Armored Titan, and the lessons she'd received about Titans came back to her.
It must have been an abnormal. I see. All the normal Titans are over there trying to eat the Armored Titan, while the abnormals are going through the ruined wall toward the mass of humans they can sense beyond.
She got to her feet. I'd better get out of here, it'll only be a matter of time before they do notice me.
She ran through the gaping hole in the wall and entered Shiganshina. She could see several more Titans in the distance pursuing the crowd of civilians, while the area directly next to the wall appeared deserted.
She ran up to one of the abandoned houses near the ruined outer gate, and snagged some clothes off of a clothing line.
She let out a sigh of relief. That's better. Meeting the residents of the walls in my birthday suit would have been quite embarrassing, not to mention conspicuous.
Before Carla could reprimand her children any further, she was distracted by the sound of ODM gear.
"Hannes!" She cried. "Take the children and get them out of here!"
He smiled. "Come on Carla, that's not our only option. The Titans seem to be going down the main streets, and there aren't too many of them yet, so we still have time."
His smile faded. "Eren, Mikasa, you grab that end, I'll take this one."
Hannes, Eren, and Mikasa ignored Carla's protests, and tried to lift the beam off of her. However, despite their best efforts, it still wasn't enough.
"Oh my god! Do you need help?"
They looked up and saw Dina running toward them, a look of alarm on her face as she witnessed their predicament.
Hannes nodded. "Yeah, we sure could use some help. Alright, you and Mikasa take that end, and Eren and I will take that end."
After following Hannes's instructions, the four of them were finally able to lift the beam up, enabling Carla to crawl out. As soon as she was clear they let go of the beam, and she slowly got to her feet.
"Hey, you lied!" Eren shouted indignantly. "Your legs are fine!"
"I was trying to save your life!" Carla retorted.
She winced and gingerly touched her chest.
Hannes looked at her in concern. "Looks like you might have a few broken ribs though."
Mikasa looked up at Dina and said in a small voice. "Thank you."
Dina smiled warmly. "You're welcome."
"Who're you?" Hannes asked. "I don't think we've met before."
She dithered. "My name is Dina. I...I'm not sure how I got here."
She rubbed the top of her head. "My memories are rather blurry. I think my head must have been hit by one of those smaller rocks."
She wasn't entirely sure how the residents of the wall would react to an outsider, and so decided it was safest to play dumb for now.
"Hmm." Hannes frowned. "Well, we can worry about that later. We need to get to the inner gate."
With that, Hannes, Carla, Dina, Eren, and Mikasa made their way over to the inner gate, doing their best to remain on the sides streets and avoiding the main roads where the abnormal Titans were rampaging.
Night had long since fallen. Most of the Titans had gone dormant, either lying on the ground or simply standing still, resting until they were awakened by the sun's rays the following morning.
Only one Titan was still moving.
The Armored Titan was fleeing away from the wall, the human form of the Female Titan clutched in his fist. He had no idea who it was, nor did he particularly care.
While his Titan face was incapable of expressing much emotion, inside the nape tears were overflowing from his cheeks.
Shit! Annie was right, we should have just gone back. Shit…
It had been a foolish, stupid decision to continue the mission. He'd thought he would be able to replace Marcel, but he'd been dead wrong. And as a result, Bertolt and Annie had died.
He recalled one of the last things Marcel had said, the memory like a knife to his shattered heart.
I'm sorry Reiner...you weren't supposed to be chosen as a Warrior.
Reiner wept. He was right. It should have been Porco. I'm useless and worthless. I'm sorry everyone...
The Armored Titan continued to trudge forward, slowly making its way back to the docks, its spirit broken with despair.
The refugees from Shiganshina were getting settled at a camp just outside of Trost.
After doing his job properly for the first time in years, Hannes went back to check on Carla, Dina, Eren, and Mikasa, who were near the edge of the camp.
He forced a smile. "Well, it looks like it was just Shiganshina that fell to the Titans. Wall Maria is still secure. I mean, losing our home isn't good, but losing Wall Maria to the Titans would have been far worse. Humanity would have really struggled to recover from such a loss."
Dina looked at him sharply. "Hmm? What do you mean?"
Hannes blinked. "Well, Wall Maria is the largest territory we have left after the rest of humanity fell to the Titans, so losing it too would have been catastrophic."
Dina bowed her head, her mind racing.
"So...the walls are the last refuge of humanity?"
Hannes raised an eyebrow. "Well, yeah. Everybody knows that."
"I see." Dina smiled weakly. "Sorry, my memories are still a bit...scrambled."
"Huh." Hannes remarked. "You remind me a lot of Grisha."
Dina froze. "What?"
"He'd somehow managed to slip outside of the wall and ended up in Titan territory, and lost his memory in the process. Luckily for him he was found by the Scouts during one of their recon missions, and was brought back inside."
Dina's eyes were wide, and her mind was racing.
Could it be…
"You really ought to meet him." Hannes said. "I'm sure he'd be happy to help, since he also knows what it's like to lose memories."
She slowly nodded. "Thank you."
Hannes began to walk away. "Well, I'd better check back in with the other soldiers. Take care."
After he left, Dina looked over and saw that Eren and Mikasa were sitting on a log a short distance away, talking quietly.
Noticing Carla's curious gaze on her, Dina tried to steer things away from herself.
"So, those are your kids?"
"Yeah." Carla's gaze softened. "Eren and Mikasa. Eren's my biological son, and we took Mikasa in about a year ago after her parents died. Eren can be quite the handful sometimes, but at least he has Mikasa looking out for him."
"I see. So you're married?"
Carla nodded. "Yes. Grisha is my husband."
No way...did Grisha...wait a minute…
Trying to keep her voice steady, Dina asked. "When did you meet Grisha?"
"Oh, about thirteen years ago. We've been married for about ten years now."
While she managed to keep her face calm, inside her thoughts were suddenly frantic.
Thirteen years?! I was a Titan for at least thirteen years?!
Oblivious to Dina's troubled thoughts, Carla continued. "He had some business in the interior for the next few days, but after the Titan attack I'm sure he'll probably cut it short. He's probably worried sick about us."
Still struggling with the shocking revelation that thirteen years had passed her by while the rest of the world moved on, Dina was unsure of what to say.
So she said simply. "He sounds like a kind man."
"Yes." Carla smiled. "He's a doctor, so he does his best to help people."
The two Mrs. Yeagers talked some more, and Dina was slowly able to piece together what must have happened.
They were distracted by Eren's cry, and looked over to see Grisha approaching the camp.
His eyes lit up. "Eren! Mikasa! Carla!"
Dina's eyes widened. It's him. It's really him…
He looked a bit older, his hair was different, and he was now wearing spectacles, but she could still recognize him as the love of her life.
Grisha knelt down and hugged Eren and Mikasa when they ran over to him.
Tears of relief spilled onto his face. "I'm so glad you're safe."
Carla ran over to him. "Darling."
He stood up and kissed her.
Dina flinched. She knew it was coming, and she had to admit that if their positions had been reversed she probably would have found someone else too. Even so…
Grisha looked at his wife in concern. "Has Wall Maria fallen?"
Carla shook her head. "No, it was just Shiganshina. I'm afraid our house was destroyed."
Grisha nodded sadly. "Houses can be rebuilt."
He looked over, and instantly froze when he spotted Dina.
She walked forward, trying to keep her face expressionless.
"Dina?" He whispered. "I...I thought you were…"
"Dead? I was." Dina walked right up to him. "But I'm here now. I...I missed you."
Carla looked back and forth between them uncertainly. "What is…"
Dina reached up and gently touched Grisha's cheek.
The second her hand made contact with his face, a spark jumped between them, and suddenly Grisha, Dina, Carla, Eren, and Mikasa were flung into the paths.
Carla looked around in bewilderment. "What?"
"What the hell?!" Eren yelled.
Mikasa shrank into Eren's side, unsure of what else to do.
Dina looked around, comprehension dawning on her. "This place…"
"It must be the Paths." Grisha concluded.
He looked at her. "Dina...do you have the power of a Titan?"
Dina looked down at her hands. "Yes...I guess I do."
Carla looked at them suspiciously. "What is going on? Do you two know each other?"
Grisha laughed nervously. "Er, yes, we do. It's a bit of a long story…"
All of them turned around, and saw a little girl standing a short distance away.
Mikasa fiddled with her scarf anxiously. "Who...who are you?"
My name is Ymir.
It was eerie, because while the voice was clearly coming from the young girl, her lips hadn't moved.
Grisha gasped. "The Founder."
Carla looked at him sharply. "You know her too?"
Your husband has been keeping a lot of secrets from you. Big secrets. Of course, he kept them from you partly for your protection. After all, they're secrets the royal government wants forgotten at all costs, and anyone who knows them is in danger.
Eren looked up at his dad excitedly. "What secrets? Is it that stuff you told me about that's in the basement?"
Grisha nodded slowly. "Yes."
Ymir stepped forward.
Let me tell you why the five of you are here. You are here because I have traveled back through the streams of time. I did this because...I wanted to give you another chance at a happy ending.
Author's Note: Originally there was going to be more, but a lot of it consisted of Ymir explaining to Carla, Eren, and Mikasa what was going on, and I realized that it was boring as shit because it was all stuff that you already know. And I wasn't super happy with the rest of it either, so I thought, you know what, fuck it, let's just leave it open ended, they can use their imaginations.
This story was inspired by some of the suggestions asking how things might have played out if Dina had eaten one of the Warriors. At first I wasn't too interested in the idea, as I wasn't really sure if there was a whole lot of potential with that idea, but then this scenario came to me and I had to write it.
With how OP the Founding Titan is, and with Ymir helping them directly, and probably removing the curse, the safety of Paradis is all but guaranteed at this point, and the various characters have a much better chance at a happy ending. Well, except for Reiner, he's screwed.
As for how Grisha, Carla, and Dina would come to terms with things, personally I'm inclined to believe that Grisha would either try for some sort of menage a trois arrangement in order to try to be faithful to both his wives and keep both of them happy, or he would stay with Carla and he and Dina would reluctantly part ways. Of course, we really don't know a whole lot about Carla or Dina, so it's hard to know how either of them would respond to this situation. And I'm not convinced that I'm a good enough writer to be able to do it justice, so I decided not to go there.
Anyways, be sure to let me know what you thought. If anything seems off or weird, then it's probably because I'm still feeling kind of lightheaded and loopy from the second covid shot I got this weekend. I didn't want to wait any longer to post, though, so I just decided to go ahead. I hope I don't regret this later. Stay safe out there.