And so, it is done. With a single strike, his head was decapitated from the inside of the Colossal Titan's mouth. Mikasa, still blinded by a thousand emotions, finally lets her lips leave her beloved one's. As reality sets in, she accepts with a bitter look what just occurred. She killed him. She stopped the devil of Paradis. The man behind the horrific Rumbling. Her beloved childhood savior. Eren Jaeger.
As the Titan crumbles on its own now that its holder has been detached from it, Mikasa escapes with agility and grace. The cables of her 3D maneuvering gear plant themselves into the enormous teeth of the monster of flesh, before preparing to head out from its hideous mouth in a flash. Eren's head, of course, is firmly held in the Ackerman's arms as she flees. Strangely, the woman feels as if she momentarily sees a mysterious figure facing her while she is leaving. But that vision rapidly disappears, and Mikasa's questioning on the matter with it. She is not in a state of being able to handle much of anything, after all. Her head is clouded with nothing but a single thought. Eren.
She swiftly makes her espace, majestically jetting out of the massive jaw. With elegance, she spirals around the gigantic body of the falling Titan. She finally makes her peaceful landing on the trembling ground, the colossal figure behind her getting crushed into the ground. But even with all this tremor, she remains calm and stable. Her bittersweet look still stuck on her pale visage, she looks at him again. His eyes are peacefully closed. Eren. The love of her life. But also her victim. The relief of finally moving on from him will never be enough to compensate for the terrible guilt of killing him with her own hands, she thinks. But these dark reflections are abruptly stopped. Mikasa realizes something panicking.
Armin's Colossal Titan, in the same fashion as Eren's, is slowly falling over. As if Armin had also completely lost control over his Titan. The shadow of the enormous monster soon engulfs the confused Ackerman. The Titan is going to fall right on her. Her remarkable instincts kicking in, she manages to immediately shoot her cables to the side, before ejecting herself out of the way of the fast approaching danger. She escapes with ease, as Armin's Titan comes crashing right as she leaves.
« Armin! » Mikasa is now awfully scared for her dear friend. Just a moment ago, he was fighting alongside her in the hopes of stopping Eren. What could have possibly happened in so little time to him? By a splendid vertical maneuver, she propulses herself upwards. Dodging the hot steam exuding from the second Colossal Titan, she lands precisely on the immobile nape of the red being. Taken over by fear for her friend, she reaches out to her last remaining blade. The one used to kill her cherished one, still covered in his dark blood. As she avoids looking at the weapon from guilt, she slices with a chirurgical precision the back of the giant neck. With a burst of smoke, Armin's body exposes itself. « Armin! Are you alright?! » His body seems in normal conditions. But something… is off. He isn't responding. Almost as if his consciousness had lost him. « Armin? Armin! » Mikasa, her blade now back to its case, uses her only available hand to shake the young man's back in an attempt to obtain a response. But it is futile. And as Mikasa starts panicking, she hears a slight mumble. Armin is talking.
« Thank you… mass murderer… for us… » What? What could any of this mean? Mikasa gets a panicked glimpse at Armin's face. The man is sleeping, his eyes very much closed. What… happened? How could he have so suddenly fallen asleep? As she is being eaten up by confusion and terror, Mikasa hears a sudden zipping sound make its way towards her.
« Oi, Mikasa! What the hell is going on? You killed Eren right? » Captain Levi seems as confused as she is. The man, landing on the back of the unanimated Titan with pitiful clumsiness, slowly makes his way to her. He notices Eren's head being held beneath one of Mikasa's arms, but doesn't seem to be paying much attention to it. The Captain seems much more preoccupied with Armin's state. « Shit. Armin too? »
« What do you mean? »
« You haven't noticed? Well, I guess you couldn't see much from inside that dirty Titan mouth. » Mikasa contemplates Levi with complete and utter confusion. « Hey, don't look at me like that. I have no clue what's going on either. As I destroyed Eren's titan's teeth to let you pass through, I started noticing some strange things suddenly happening. I managed to move my way around, somehow, but when I faced in the other direction… every single Titan had suddenly stopped moving. »
« W-what? »
« I told you already, I don't know. But all of them started falling like flies. I didn't have the time to go check if they're still alive either. Maybe I could've, if it weren't for these damn wounds… Hey, think it's got something to do with you killing Eren? »
« I… don't know. But Armin isn't dead! I heard him speak! »
« Speak? So what, they all randomly started falling asleep or something? Even if that's the case, this still can't be good. Looks like everyone besides you and me suffered the same fate too. »
« Everyone?! »
« Yeah. All Titans. As in, even the Pure ones. Everyone suddenly started falling. Can't tell why we'd be the only two still up. » As Levi seems plunged in his thoughts, a sudden and terrifying thought comes to his mind. « Shit! The worm! Where is it right now?! » Panicked, the Captain turns on place to look behind him. In the opposite direction, from the faraway distance, it is still there, intact. The worm. And with Reiner, just like all other Titans, now fallen asleep, no one can stand in its way anymore. It charges forward, dangerously approaching the immobile Founding Titan body, which still hasn't started vaporizing. « That damn thing! Who the hell knows what'll happen if it gets back in there! We gotta stop it at all costs, you hear me Mikasa?! » The adrenaline rushing in as soon as it left, Mikasa is as determined as afraid.
« Y-yes! » Without even bothering to listen to her answer, Levi flies off into the distance to fight. But judging from his unbalanced movements, he probably won't be able to do much. Mikasa stands straight up, ready to leave Armin's unconscious body in order to follow her mission. That's right, she did all of this because she chose the Alliance. Because she trusted Armin's decision. That the Rumbling and Eren needed to be stopped. No going back now. Without wasting anymore time on these sudden events with questions, she tightens her scarf and holds Eren's head even closer to her. But as she does, something even more confusing occurs.
She is suddenly taken by a brutal pain in her hand. Under such torment, she tenses her body backwards, and Eren's head is unintentionally released. It brutally falls down against the red flesh of the Colossal Titan, rolling on for a few meters.
« Eren! » But as soon as Mikasa screams the infamous name, she becomes shellshocked. The head… is vaporizing. Just like a Titan body part. Smoke has started to come out of it in ridiculous abundance. As confused as ever, she looks at her still-in-pain hand. It is of a bright crimson, as if she has been burnt. Could it be? The hot steam emitting from Eren's head is what caused such pain? What is the meaning of this? Do Titan shifter bodies vaporize too, once killed? No, it wasn't the case when Captain Levi killed Zeke. But then…
« Eren… What's going on? » In the faraway distance, the worm can be seen advancing as fast at it can back to its origin. And around it, a pitiful little silhouette swings from one side to the next, desperately trying to stop it. A cold, yet calming breeze comes blowing Mikasa's hair. The young woman drops to her knees, as freezing tears start falling down her devastated cheeks. She understands. « Eren. You're… » Even though she should fall to despair, nothing but comfort and relief seem to be what she experiences. She is glad… that she did not actually do it, in the end.
As this miserable spectacle ensues, another one will soon commence. Leaving behind the former, the attention is suddenly redirected all the way back to the very end of the Founding Titan's body. There, behind the enormous and intimidating array of ribs, concealed from anyone's sight at the very end of its massive spine, something hides in secrecy. The veil of smoke from the immobile Colossal Titans of the Rumbling let a vague cylindric silhouette be distinguished from the masking of its presence. The further along it goes, the clearer it becomes to the eye. From a bird's point of view, this mysterious object keeps on trailing backwards, soon leaving the corridor of steam and revealing itself. A long, white cable. A thick string, half-hidden from under the ground. It somehow found a way to partially dig itself into the harsh soils of the continent, only ever being noticeable if you were purposefully looking for it. This curious rope extends on an unimaginable distance, its length being nothing short of ridiculous.
As the eye of the most curious of birds follows this trail of white, the animal is sooner or later faced with the ocean itself. And with it, the thick string goes from camouflaged to completely undetectable. Indeed, as the land soon becomes sea, the cord is plunged within the dark depths of the blue water. Inside it, impossible to notice its presence. But for the most intrepid and attentive of flyers, this is not necessarily a problem. Because the other side of this sea can only lead to a single destination. Paradis Island.
And indeed, once the white sand of the beach is once more observable, so is the cord. It methodically sprouts out of the bowels of the ocean, before resting beneath a subtle sheet of sand. And as the sand becomes dirt, strange shapes marked into the soils of the island can be observed. Amidst the uncountable massive footprints left behind by the Rumbling, what appears to be marks of some gigantic hands and fingers can also be distinguished if paying the greatest attention. Almost as if some of the Colossal Titans from the genocide had went out of their way to dissimulate the mysterious string beneath the earth, while the rest of their kin remained preoccupied with flattening the entire world. Creation in destruction, perhaps. Such meticulous work can after all only mean that someone went out of their way to keep the presence of the white trail a secret. The cord itself could have never done this on its own. And hidden behind the thick veil of steam from the giants, no one would have ever been there to clearly see what was going on.
And suddenly, it stops. The cord does not advance any further than this, ceasing its impressive journey of the world right here and there. In the middle of a devastated city, no less. The markings of the once existing walls of these lands only leave behind the menacing footprints of the Rumbling. And there, completely unnoticed amongst the debris and the dead, lies an object of an immaculate shine. A bright, pale crystal, large enough to contain an adult. Seemingly, it is cracked opened. If something, or someone, was ever protecting themselves in the inside of this shell, they left it not too long ago.
Somewhere, amidst these apocalyptic and desolated ruins, if it is searched for hard enough, a man can be seen walking. In the middle of this deserted hell, where nothing but blood and silence remain, this single person advances, surrounded alone by destruction. His gait, unbalanced and slow, could make one think that he would fall over at any given moment. His slow steps make him look as if he is carrying a heavy burden, and it might very well be the case. But despite this, the faraway figure remains incredibly tenacious on arriving to his destination. He keeps moving forward, his duty now complete. With for only drive left his burning desire of returning home.
As the sun starts to set, his torn apart and fuming visage slowly reveals itself. The crimson flesh of his face makes for a disturbing contrast with his long, waving dark hair. A sudden breeze blasts the man's hair backwards, fully exposing under the solar light his regenerating bones and muscles. Discret tunnels of steam exude from the man's real face, as it regenerates instead of vaporizing away like the other one is doing.
As he finally reaches the green grass of the open-fields that once rested behind the now gone Wall Maria, only a few hundred meters away from Shinganshina, thoughts start kicking in by the dozens. Until now, the man had completely lost the ability to think. And as this capacity slowly regenerated back from the inside of his newly regenerated skull, so did a numerous amount of various emotions. In this cloud of sentiments, the man instinctively keeps on advancing, as if none of his unredeemable sins, even for a moment, are enough to stop him. But that is simply not true. It might not seem like it, but deep within his soul, guilt and horror are slowly eating this man away. Under these circumstances, any normal person would have already crumbled under the weight of such atrocious and haunting feelings. And yet, he persists on moving forward. That's right, no point in giving up, now that everything has already been set and done. And, he has a promise to fulfill.
As freezing tears stumble along his newly formed cheeks, the man can only find comfort in a single thought. Yes, our promise, he thinks. With this in mind, nothing can stop him. Nothing could ever have. All of it, thanks to this promise. And so, coping with the horrors of his own self, the man grasps onto the very last bits of peace left within his heart through a distant and cherished memory. That day…
« Keeping quiet would never be hard for you. I know you can do it, because… you're the one who saved me that day. The worst girl in the world. » Terrified even just a moment ago, Historia is now devoted of any sense of panic. Instead, she is met with an unexpected amount of surprise, which oddly calms her down. She stares longly at Eren, unable to respond to what he just said. The young man looks at her with bittersweet eyes. « Historia, I'm sorry I ended up dragging you into this. If you can just keep quiet until I can start the Rumbling… I promise nothing will ever happen to you. I'll make sure of it. » Historia stares at Eren some more. She might have calmed down, but her horror at the idea of a global genocide still terrifies her. She tries to collect her thoughts, faced with this insane situation. She sighs, before returning her back against the farm's fence.
« Why even tell me about it? It's not like I'll be of any help, right? It doesn't make sense for you to give someone the opportunity to betray you at any moment like this. I'm the Queen, you know? I have direct authority over the entire government. I could arrest you right there. »
« But… you're not going to do it, are you? » She breathes slowly, as she contemplates in silence the vast open fields of the farm caressed by a subtle breeze. He's right.
« You're doing this for the island, how could I ever? For our people, you're ready to go this far. As the Queen of Paradis, I can do nothing but support you. Even if it's… so wrong. » Historia attempts to hold her curiosity in, but she can't help but ask. She faces him once more, a terrified look on her face. « Are there really no other options?! » Her fears are slowly getting the better of her. But Eren's silence, along with his devastated facial expression, say it all. Her face returns back to normal, as her whole body starts trembling. « Then… why tell me? »
« I wanted… you to know. I wanted to talk to you, before everything starts. »
« What do you mean? » Eren hesitates on continuing, but at the sight of Historia being so terrified and confused, he has no choice but to reveal her everything.
« I needed to make sure you know about the Military Police. So that you can protect yourself, even once I'll be gone. It's impossible to predict what the government might try when I'm no longer there, and I want to make sure you stay safe. But, more than that, I… wanted to let you know… why I'll do it. Because, after everything is set and done, I won't get another chance to tell you. » Historia's eyes quiver and become wide-opened.
« Eren! Don't tell me…! » Historia jumps off the fence. She faces Eren once more, completely subject to terror. What is he saying?! The woman is terrified and panicked for Eren's safety. Perhaps even more so than she was just a moment ago for the rest of the world. « You… Why?! The Rumbling doesn't require the holder of the Founding Titan to sacrifice themselves in the process, does it? Why would you ever have to… to die?! » Eren's face is crippled of a distressed look. Full of misery, he reveals it all to her.
« When I kissed your hand, back in the ceremony… I saw them. »
« Huh? » Eren's face is shrouded in sadness and despair.
« Future memories. My Attack Titan can see through the future, Historia. I can not escape the realities presented to me. Whatever path I choose, I know what outcome it will lead to. And the Rumbling… is the only option. Everything else, everything else… just… won't cut it! » As the young man's fists tremble under their own strength, Historia is met with nothing but fright. « Nothing else will ensure Paradis's safety! Nothing! And I can't accept that! »
« But what does that have to do with dying! » Eren cracks. Tears have begun to fall, as he uncontrollably crushes his teeth against each other in an attempt to hold the pain inside him. He cannot resist any longer.
« I saw them! My friends! Mikasa. Armin. And everyone else! They were… there… I won't be able to live with myself after this! I won't have anything to live for! Nothing will ever be enough to cope! And I don't have a choice… So if I don't end up getting killed… I'll just die out of guilt! » Eren's sudden and desperate distress shocks the Queen to the core of her soul.
« No… Way… » Historia lets these few words unintentionally escape her trembling mouth. She realizes with horror what Eren is saying. She herself is about to cry. The both of them are feeling devastated and ripped apart from the inside. This future… simply cannot be real!
For long and suffocating seconds, nothing is said. They both try their best to keep their sorrow for themselves, even though they might as well start crying all the tears of their body right here and now. Eren breathes in deeply. Still trembling, he attempts to bring confort to both Historia and himself.
« It's fine. It's fine. It's better this way. I've already come to terms with it. As long as you and the island are safe, and free, that's enough. I've accepted it long ago, so it's fine. It's fine. » He keeps on stubbornly repeating these words as to appease himself, even though he knows fully well of the hell that awaits him. But even though this little illusion might be just enough to persuade him, it isn't so much so the case for Historia.
« Maybe for you, but not for me. »
« Huh? » Eren is shellshocked. His confused eyes stare directly at Historia. She stands firmly opposed to him. Her back straight and her eyes filled with determination, she faces him with a completely changed attitude from just a moment ago. As tears flow down her pale visage, the rest of her face is covered in refusal. For a brief moment, Eren can almost see her the way she looked back under the chapel, on the day she saved him.
« So what? You come up to me out of nowhere. You tell me about a genocide plan that is nothing short of insanity. You plan on killing every single being that isn't already on this island, no matter who. And then, you plan on… killing yourself?! » Eren remains silent, incapable of responding, or understating what Historia is trying to get at. All he can do is accept the woman's anger.
Suddenly, a striking force reaches to his face. What? His head slightly tilts to the right under the force. Did Historia just… slap him? « Are you kidding me?! Now I'm mad! » As Eren redirects his gaze towards her, he sees it. The incredible frustration written all over her pink face.« You're about to cause all these atrocities and destruction, and still expect to be able to walk free of any guilt once this is all over?! Through a peaceful, cowardly death?! You really think you can escape that easily from your sins?! » Seemingly unable to go on while remaining still, she begins to walk around Eren. As she continues her uncontrolled rant, she violently flails her arms around with fury. « Listen to you, saying nonsense like not having anything to live for! You're pretty pathetic right now! In fact, this is no different from that day, in the cave! Here I was, thinking you'd grown. But look at you! In the end, you're still the same damn crybaby! » She completely circled around Eren. The young man, completely at a loss for words, can do nothing but watch her furiously lash out. She stops on the other side of where she was originally standing, almost at a loss of breath. She stops a moment, collecting her thoughts. And then, firmly stares at Eren. « If that's the case, if you truly think all of this… If you're still the same whiney crybaby… then I'll have to make you understand. I'll wake you out of it! Just like back in the cave, and for as many times as needed! I'll stop you once more from wanting to die, you idiot! » Eren's eyes suddenly open wide. A powerful, almost electric feeling takes over both his stomach and his heart.
« Historia… » Completely out of breath, the girl takes her time to recuperate from her rant. She collects her thoughts, for good this time, and calms herself down. Eren looks at her with a moved expression, as well as a few tears of what seems to no longer be sadness. Appeased, the Queen suddenly seems embarrassed by her ways, and instinctively brushes it off by redoing her golden hair. Which does not stop her from continuing.
« You're always protecting me these days, even when it goes against what I might otherwise say. Honestly, you're so stubborn. » Unexpectedly, saying this makes her chuckle. Her gaze avoids Eren's for a little while, her hands still in the middle of traversing her hair. « But… I'm grateful. You were the only one that stood up for me. You were the only one present to save me. » She pauses for a second. « Well, my turn now. » The tone of her voice is much calmer than before, and almost soothing. She confronts his stare again, her face slowly turning back to its usual, beautiful pale white. « I'm not letting you die, Eren. » The man is completely astonished. This was in none of my future memories, he thinks. Incapable of responding in any way, and completely taken by surprise, he keeps on listening quietly. « You can't just… leave me all alone. And you can't just tell me about all of this, and then expect me to nod along. I can't accept that. You're so selfish, what about how I feel? I'm sick and tired of putting on this Queen facade to help my people. Sometimes, it feels like I'm regressing back to being the nice girl that was Christa. And I'm sick of it. So… I'm not going to blindly tolerate things this time. » For a moment, she doesn't say anything. The girl and the boy simply look at each other in silence, finding confort in each other's presence. They somehow manage to free their conversation from its suffocating tensions this way. Their gaze gets tenderly reflected in each other's. « I want you to be safe too. I… care about you, you know? » For some reason, Historia's face slowly turns back to pink. Eren is utterly chocked. That warm feeling inside of him has not left ever since it first appeared inside his bust a few moments ago. He feels so oddly at peace. As if he finally understands. Exactly the same way he felt back in the cave, once she freed him of these chains.
A golden sunset highlights the both of them. The shining reflection in their inseparable gazes accentuates the greens and blues that lies within them. Not even the subtle breeze that keeps on coming back and forth is enough to break the calming silence that the two share together. A sudden moment of tranquility. Complete peace.
« So, Eren. » Historia suddenly, yet peacefully breaks this unexpected moment of intimacy. Her profound blue eyes stare at him with all sorts of emotions, as she asks a surprising proposition. « What would you think… if I had a child? » Eren is suddenly thrown out of the moment. What did she just say? Why would she ever want a child?
« There's no need for that. I already told you, didn't I? Distracting the Military Police with a child will only postpone the… »
« Eren. » Although Eren has momentarily stopped paying attention to her to respond to her question, Historia has kept the exact same, uninterrupted tender look. The young man sighs. He's not stupid, he knows what she actually means. But for some reason, he tried to play it off, just in case he might have been reasoning with his emotions too much. « If I had a child… would that help you with coming back alive? Would it give you the determination, the drive to keep on moving forward? »
« Even if it was, it'd be too much of a selfish reason. I refuse to use any child as a tool. » It's poorly hidden, but Eren attempts to find any excuse he can to avoid this. Historia is not convinced in the slightest by this argument, however.
« Then come to this child, not to save yourself, but to make sure that you save them yourself. Fight, survivre, keep on living, all to ensure this infant's future. You wouldn't be using them as a tool, but as a source of meaning. And that would go on, even after the Rumbling, and until your very last breath. Do it for this child, and every other baby that will ever be born on this island. Gift them of a world in which they are free. » These words resonate with Eren. They briefly remind him of his mother's words, as well as his hunger for freedom.
« What about you? I don't want you to… sacrifice yourself, just so I can stay alive. »
« That wouldn't be the case at all. » Historia immediately responds, almost like she knew what Eren was going to say next. She can't help but smile with embarrassment as she responds. « I've always wanted a child. Being a mother… That sounds like the type of life that I would be proud of. And I know how haunting it is for a kid to be rejected or used by their parents. I'm sure you know it just as well. This child, I would show them nothing but love. »
« Even then, why would you go through all the troubles of saving someone like me? I'm the bad guy, do you understand? I'm planning on killing every single being that's outside of this island! » Eren suddenly becomes the one furious. Why? Why won't she just let him rot away… « Why… are you so stubborn on saving someone like me? » Historia's bittersweet smile only grows more at the sound of Eren's confusion and self-loath.
« For the same reasons that you kept on saving me. » Eren's tears return. He has never, in his entire life, felt so grateful towards someone else. This entire time, he had to push through no matter what everyone thought of him. And whenever he gets exhausted by his passionate mentality, no one is there to save me. Except for his girl. « And who even are you to say all of that? We could have just went with the 50 years plan, and things could have gone smoothly for everyone, Paradis and rest of the world alike. It could have worked, and yet you still refused to go with it because you don't want to sacrifice me. And I'm incredibly thankful for that. So, since I owe you one, I'll save you again myself. » She gently smiles at Eren once more. This is the sort of understanding and affection he hadn't received in years. It soothes him. « Besides, I told you, I already made up my mind. It doesn't matter what you think, I want you to stay alive. »
« Historia, I… »
« Maybe it makes me egoistical or a hypocrite, but I don't care anymore. Time for me to finally be selfish for once. I'll always be your ally Eren, and that includes saving you from yourself. So, come back to this island. » Eren does not respond. Deep down, he knows he has already accepted. And he can't help but get overwhelmed with gratefulness towards his savior. Historia gives the young man one final, tender look.
« Promise me, Eren.
Promise me that you'll come back to me.
That you'll come back… to us.. »
After many long and painful minutes, yet no more than half an hour, the man is almost there. His feet are slowly traversing the delicate herbs pushed by the return of a subtle and familiar breeze. Not too far away from him, his destination finally reveals itself. A small wooden house, standing tall in the center of this sea of green. The nostalgic golden sunset glorifies the scene and accentuates its sentiment of utter peacefulness. As the man approaches, the faraway silhouette of a surprised individual, whose face is barely noticeable from under the shadow of his beret, suddenly stands up from the domicile's porch.
« … ! » With relief, the advancing man notices that his subordinate is very much at the planned place of meeting. Indeed, Arthur waves with tears shining from his unnoticeable eyes at the man he admires. Such enthusiasm for the arriving man is expected of any devoted Yeagerist. And Arthur is no different. Plus, the fact that he is here proves that they very much are all present as planned, in the secret farm next to Shiganshina. Here, no one would have ever know of their presence, except for him. And if Arthur is making such relaxed movements and callings to the man, it must mean that he successfully accomplished his mission. That of acting as a decoy in the eyes of the government, pretending to be a normal farmer, as well as a secret bodyguard. In case anything would happen to who he was in charge of protecting, he would make sure to make things go as Floch's orders commanded him to. Which greatly appeases .
Yes, she is fine. This entire time, even though he left her behind in a vulnerable state, she was still protected accordingly. Thanks to Floch's ingenuity, the most precious two persons in his world were protected under all circumstances. She's fine, these words slightly appease the man, still terribly troubled by his haunting thoughts. In fact, she's right there, sitting on a wooden chair from the porch. The fake farmer stands tall besides her, proving that he never left her unguarded. Her golden hair is unmissable from such a small distance. Finally in front of the wooden porch, the man, now fully exhausted from accomplishing his devilish duty, walks up to her. This woman… She remains sat down, letting the visitor approach her until they are opposed by less than a meter. The man notices that in her arms rest a young child, wrapped in royal sheets. With tears in his eyes, he officially concludes his miserable travel. Right here, right in front of her. They both exchange a painful and tender look at each other. Although she is crying, Historia cannot help but smile.
« Welcome home, Eren. »
These words are enough to emotionally devastate Eren. He has committed such inexcusable atrocities. And yet, when he was on the verge of forgetting about his reasons as to why he did it, this child shines like a bright light in the Jeager's heart. Yes, for this infant's future. In the same state of guilt and love, Historia gently hands him over the newborn baby. Subtly, as to not wake up the adorable and peacefully sleeping being, Eren wraps his shaking hands around her.
A flashing, electric light appears in the obscure darkness.
Eren is suddenly transported to a completely different place. An absolute void of utter nothingness. Thin sand suddenly enters in contact with his bare feet. And, in the center of this familiar place, a blinding beacon of pure light stands tall. The Coordinate. New tears fall from his tired visage as he understands that everything went as planned. He successfully is back in the Paths.
« My final trial lies ahead. » he murmurs. Even though Eren is no longer holding the child, he still is in the posture of doing so. He swiftly breaks out of it, and starts walking. Towards his new destination, the Coordinate. Yes, my last struggle, he thinks, before I can finally obtain it. Freedom.
Curiously, this time around, Eren is not as haunted by his thoughts. This second walk, while still painful, is also extraordinarily amazing of an achievement. Everything, this entire plan, went as he had intended. The fact that his child inherited the Beast Titan is possibly the most surprising and risky move he had to play in order for his plan to work. But without this titan of royal blood, he would never have been able to get access to the Paths again. But god knows how many obstacles stood in his path. To think this entire plan was on the verge of getting ruined simply by Gabi shooting Eren with a riffle. Luckily, he had transferred his consciousness down his spine, if only barely. His old rival, Reiner, was said in a report from the battle in Shiganshina years ago to be believed of having done the same to save his life. Once Eren got a hold of this information, it only took a bit of practice for him to master this technique himself. But to think that his entire people and the ones he loves most could have lost everything because of some little girl with a gun… is amusing, to not say plainly ridiculous.
It will have been a crazy and traumatic journey. All these years he spent training himself. All his fallen comrades. All the lives lost in order for him to live. All the anger, the hatred, the betrayal, the joy, the sorrow. It is all coming to an end.
Finally, he stands in front of it. The Coordinate. And with both relief and terror, he sees it all through it. That scenery. The sight of these dozens of Titans, completely fallen asleep and vulnerable. And the stopped Colossal Titans. Everything he last saw before his old head got decapitated.
And so, it worked. Their plan worked. While Eren was busy activating the Rumbling and regenerating a new head from his Warhammer Titan's crystal, Ymir did the rest. She summoned the previous Titan shifters to defend the Founding Titan's head, as a distraction. Since the Alliance came from the skies, they could always have a slim chance of noticing the flesh cable that connects the Founding to Paradis, no matter how hard some of the Colossal Titans tried to hide it beneath the ground. Eren could not let that happen. So, too busy with getting attacked, and now convinced that this was all a way of protecting Eren's body, they fell for it. The Alliance fought tooth and nail in order to stop this tragedy. But it was all meaningless. Eren had won the moment his head touched Zeke's hand.
The strange parasite that started this all also acted as planned. It left the Fouding's spine as expected, before turning out of fear for its survival all nearby Eldians into Titans. That way, their memories and dreams could be altered or stopped. And now that it has seemingly found its way back in the Fouding Titan's body, the power of the Rumbling can be activated once more.
Yes. Now, from inside the Paths, all that Eren has left to do is to reactivate it. The Rumbling. Now that he gained access to it once again, he can do it. Just like the first time. All he has to do… Is to command it…
Eren drops to his knees, right in front of the blinding lights of the Coordinate. He crashes on the white sand of the Paths, trembling.
« I… can't… » « I can't do this! » Having completely lost it, Eren starts speaking to himself. « I told Ymir to let everyone dormant by transforming them into Titans. When she showed me Pure Titans are all plunged in never ending dreams, I asked her to do it. All of them, my friends. To let all Eldians outside of the island live their last moments in this world, plunged in their own fantasies. Fake endings to cope with reality, to spare them from the horrors of this world. So that they won't have to suffer anymore. Connie will return to his family, to his mother. Jean will get a nice and easy life from inside the walls. Pieck and Annie will return to their father. Reiner will become the hero of Marley. Armin will save the world. And Mikasa… » Eren opens his eyes blinded with tears. Huh? Mikasa? He takes a look at the crumbled over Colossal Titan. There, right next to the sleeping Armin, she sits still. Almost like she accepted her defeat. « Mi…kasa? Why… Why aren't you sleeping? » He says all of this, even though she obviously cannot hear him. From faraway, Eren notices a single soldier flying towards her from faraway. Is this… Captain… Levi? Could it be? Did Ymir not manage to give the Ackermans dreams like the others? No… This can't be… Of course. Ackermans can't turn into Titans.
Eren is completely devastated. How could this be? Not only does he have to kill everyone in their sleep, now he has to murder some of the people he's closest to… while they're still conscious! This can't be! This must be a mistake! There's no way! « It's right here. It's the very last step to take before I can free my people of thousands of years of hatred! But I… just can't do it! It hurts, it hurts so much! » Eren is crumbled down on the white sands, looking down as he cries with painful tears. He is shaking like a child in the cold, and the simple idea of reactivating the Rumbling in such conditions makes him nearly vomit. « Just kill me already! I can't deal with this! It's too much, even for myself! I knew it would always come down to this! I knew it the entire time! I tried to save them as best as I could! My friends! My sister! But in the end, I'm just going to kill them all by my own hands! The people I was raised alongside with! The people I love! I just… I can't do this! It's too hard! I can't! » From his miserable posture, Eren cries like he never has before. His entire body trembles in a disturbing manner. Liquid pours all over his crippled face as he screams for his friends' lives.
Suddenly, a warm feeling wraps itself around Eren. As he is still petrified on the spot by all the horrendous sins he must commit, an unexpected breeze of appeasing air meets his body. The traumatized man finds himself around a child's arms. What… is this? This hug strangely soothes him. As he looks on his left, he sees her. The Founder Ymir, crying.
« Y-Ymir? » As always, she does not say a word. She simply hugs Eren as firmly as she can. It is almost as if she is suffering from seeing the man that is about to free her in such a pitiful state. « Why… are you crying, too? » She hugs him even more. Eren blindly stares at the Paths' sand lying right beneath his shaking self. « Yes, I can't just stop now, can I? 80% of the outside world has already been wiped out. If I was to stop this far in, the hatred towards Eldians would only grow stronger, wouldn't it? This… would do nothing but doom the island's future. » Eren tries his best to convince himself of the logic behind what is about to be the most gigantic massacre in the history of mankind. And yet… « I'm sorry Ymir, but I… I just can't do something this awful… » « I'm sorry… I can't live with myself! I can't live any longer! »
His face is suddenly moved against her calming chest. The girl slowly brushes his trembling hair, which calms him further. And then, he remembers. The things she showed him, when he first activated the Rumbling. Ymir. The reason she obeyed King Fritz, despite having more power than he could ever dream of getting. The reason she kept the Paths and the curse of the Titans alive… is because she loved her children unconditionally. Every single one of her descendants, the Eldians… She loved them. And she knew that in a world where they no longer have the Titans, all of them would perish. « I… feel the same. » Eren, drowning in distress, cannot help but find empathy and resonance with Ymir's point of view. « I desire nothing, but freedom. Freedom for my people, who have been persecuted for the sin of being born. Everyone wants them dead simply because they exist. And I… I refuse to accept that! I refuse to let my people get pointed at, violated, disrespected, hated and destroyed! I refuse to let this terrifying history repeat once more! No more innocent children shall get involved in the horrors of war! Yes, if I don't do this, it will only keep on happening. All these horrors… all this suffering… all these wars… will never end! And so, I need to sacrifice them! Every single one… of my beloved friends… So that I can lead the future generations out of the forest! So that Eldian children can be born in a world free of all of this! Let me bring you out of the forest, Ymir. You, and all children from Paradis along with it!
With more determination than ever, Eren slowly raises himself from the sand and Ymir's confort. He knows what he has to do. He always did. It's just as Armin told him. Only the ones ready to sacrifice something can make a change in this cruel world. The only way to win, is to toss aside your own humanity. To fight! Eren slolwy stands up, looking directly at the Coordinate.
« Ymir. Once this is all over. Once our duty has been completed, and our people saved… Destroy the Paths. It doesn't have to be right away. Otherwise, the Rumbling would have its Titans disappear too. But soon, there will be no point in protecting us with these Titan powers. Because… we will no longer be persecuted. Titans, Titan shifters, the Curse, the Paths. I want it all gone by the end of this. My child… She inherited the Beast Titan, as we planned. And I refuse to have them suffer the fate of a limited lifespan. So, once this is all set and done… free our people. Break their chains. Let us offer them freedom. » Ymir sits quietly on the white sand, looking at Eren with what very well might be fascination. She, for the first time he's ever seen, smiles. Eren take a quick look at her, before confronting the Coordinate. « I will do it. Even if it means becoming the worst piece of shit that this world has ever known, I will do it! »
« Ymir, reactivate the Rumbling! »
Instantly, the visions portrayed from the Coordinate change. And with enough tears to drown himself, Eren sees it. Even if it nothing more than a glimpse of the near future, and not reality, it is what will occur. The Colossal Titans… have started moving again!
Mikasa has not moved for what feels like eternity. She simply sits calmly on the back of Armin's Titan, her hand over his unconscious shoulder. She awaits, sitting in silence, for what she knows is the inevitable. Eren's fake head has been reduced to a fuming skull, and with this brings the confirmation that he is still alive. Otherwise, his human head would have remained intact. Such news would terrify pretty much anyone on this side of the Rumbling, but not her. In the end, she is glad she didn't do it. She finds relief in knowing she did not kill Eren. After all, living on with such immense regret and guilt would have probably been enough to kill her. Perhaps that in the end, she could never move on from her loved one. Frankly, she respects him even more for knowing that he is capable of doing something so awful, and yet stay capable of not wanting to kill himself right afterwards. Little does she know, this is exactly how Eren is feeling right now. Her eyes semi-closed and her face covered in tears, she awaits.
Behind her, long and clumsy limping sounds make their own way besides her.
« He won, didn't he? » Captain Levi nonchalantly sits on the other side of Armin's body. « Tsk, that brat. » For a moment, the shell of a man says nothing. But seeing at how Mikasa is doing the same, he can't help but talk on his own. These are his last words, after all. « It's going to reactivate, isn't it? »
« Yes. » He sighs with annoyance.
« Oh well, at least I kept my promise. I never really cared about all this Alliance nonsense anyway. I just wanted to keep my promise and kill that stinky fur ball. I finally did it, Erwin… » Levi's voice slowly loses in intensity. « I guess in a sense, what Eren is doing will free Paradis. I couldn't ask for more than that. Fought long and hard for these people, so it's about time they become free from the cruelty of this shit hole we call the world.» He scratches the back of his head. Seemingly no reaction from the accepting Mikasa. « I guess in the end you were right to not even bother. I tried stopping the worm like a fool, but the few blades I had left didn't even scratch the damn thing. It got back in the Founding Titan's body with little to no problems. Nothing's happened yet, but it won't take too long before it all restarts. Damn, I can't help but feel like an idiot for even trying to stop that thing. Wouldn't have exhausted myself for nothing at least. Thinking about it, maybe we should feel the same about wanting to stop Eren. » He takes a look last stare at his last remaining blade, before tossing it aside. « Well, I wasn't expecting to spend my last moments with you. But, we're both Ackermans, aren't we? Might sound stupid, but at least, I get to die next to my family, in a sense. Something I never had, until now. World's got a pretty shitty sense of humor sometimes. » These words unexpectedly touch Mikasa. Yes, family. Such a complicated concept. But instead of finding it non-amusing, she sees it as something truly beautiful. It's something that Eren would think too, she is certain of it. Even if, in the end, that's all they ever were. Family. She smiles.
Suddenly, both behind and before them, the ground starts to tremble once more. The different rows of giants slowly awaken. The Colossal Titans… have started moving again.
Eren is in utter shock. Almost as if he was there, he appears right in front of them. Captain Levi, Armin… and Mikasa. What… is this? Just like when him and Zeke relived Grisha's old memories… This must be a memory as well. But the Rumbling has not yet started, has it? Eren is incapable of telling for sure. He attempts to softly call them all, shaking. But of course, they cannot hear him. Is this a memory after all, or real life? The destroyer of this world cannot even know. Yet, for some reason, it's almost as if Mikasa sees him. At Eren's feet lie his old, vaporizing head.
« Eren. » Eren is completely taken by surprise. He looks around him, in disbelief. Did Mikasa just… call him? Captain Levi looks at her with confused eyes, and yet easily accepts the woman's sudden monologue. He just did the same himself. She gives a warm look to Eren's skull, lying still at Eren's feet. « You're here, aren't you? » The Colossal Titans have started walking again. They keep on advancing forward, now unstoppable in their goal of flattening the whole world. And as the ones behind Eren's friends leave them, the ones in front will soon catch up. Eren is in utter shock. She couldn't possibly know he's here, so how? Could it be that she has accepted her last moments? Would she then be saying out loud everything she's kept for herself before dying? As a last way of saying goodbye? Eren has no idea. But he cannot stand such a devastating spectacle.
« Mikasa! I'm sorry! Don't leave me! Armin, Captain Levi! Everyone! » The man screams in terror. But yet again, no response. Eren is met with nothing but a frustrating silence. He clenches his fists in anger, desperation, and guilt. All he can do is watch. A long look at Mikasa's shining eyes is enough to destroy him from the inside. Mikasa… Her face, in this instant, reminds him of the day they almost died together. While confronting Dina Fritz's titan. But this time, he won't be able to save her. As crushing pain spreads throughout the man's entire body and soul, Mikasa continues.
« You've… always been there for me. » The ground resonates more and more as the Colossal Titans approach. « I feel like I could've done things differently. Maybe I should've acted less like our mom with you. » Slowly, their entire bodies get shrouded in darkness. The imposing shadows of the coming Death. « And I… wish I could have… answered some other way, when you asked me. » Eren cannot stand this anymore. This is too much. This is too much! « But it doesn't look like it would've worked out anyway. » She bittersweetly smiles. « Still, I have no regrets. » A crushing sound bashes its way into the soil just a few meters behind Eren. A massive Titan foot, a step away from the traumatizing finale of this future memory. Under such power, dust sand and Armin's Colossal Titan's blood are tossed in all directions. A grotesque rain of despair for this last goodbye. Levi has accepted his fate, as he awaits calmly sitting next to the unconscious Armin. Mikasa's beautiful hair gets elegantly blasted backwards by the shock. « And I was glad… I was glad that I could meet you. » The Titan's foot has already left the ground. It makes its way above them all. Eren is trembling like he never has. No… No. This can't be happening. This… atrocious feeling… This.. This is no different from the day his mother died! The powerlessness, the tragedy, the self-loath!
« Mikasa! » Eren screams with all of the strength he has left. He leaps towards her, as his hand attempts to reach her.
« Eren. Thank you… For putting this scarf around me. ».
Before anything else is said, done, or thought, it's already too late.
The Colossal Titan steps down.
It crushes Mikasa.
Eren's vision reverts back to the real world. What… just happened? Here, less than a few seconds seem to have passed. He stands still, above the wooden house's porch. The entrance door is half-opened. Arthur seems to have gone inside to go look for something, possibly drinks and new clothes. Confusion is intertwined with the gorgeous golden rays of the faraway sunset.
He cannot believe it. The horrors he has seen. The inexcusable sins he is committing at this very moment. There's no way he'll ever be able to live through this. He would just hate himself too much. He simply can't do it! He won't ever be able to live with this! There's no way! How could he? His friends. His superiors. His own sister! All of them… This future memory… Captain Levi. Armin. Everyone.
He finds it impossible to live with himself any longer. The sudden thought of being stuck in his own flesh disgusts him. He will never be able to face himself again. Looking into a mirror would be nothing short of grotesquely repulsive. He wants to vomit as much as he is crying. This guilt, this seething guilt. He won't be able to bare the consequences of his actions. These sins… They are simply too heavy of a burden! No one could ever live with themselves after this!
« Eren? » His every thought suddenly stops. Historia, still sitting from her chair, looks at him with teary, worried eyes. She stands up, before gently touching one of Eren's hands with hers. She's incredibly warm and soothing. « Thank you, for keeping your promise. » His eyes open wide. « Let us live through this, together. Because we're enemies of humanity, right? » She heartwarmingly smiles at him.
Eren's eyes take a sudden look around him. His child. She's right there, in his shaking arms. For a moment, it almost feels as if time itself stopped. The father is fully immersed in the contemplation of his infant. She's peacefully sleeping, not a care in the world. Such an adorable baby… Liberated from it all. The very first Eldian to be born, in a world that is theirs to explore and experience. An unchained child.
That's right. Even after all of this, he still has something to live for.
He has them.
The tears still flowing down his devastated cheeks, he takes a long and tenderly look at his daughter.
« Ymir. »
Slowly, he puts her on his shoulder. He caresses her soft head. A silent and caring hug between a child and her sinful father. And yet, perhaps he still surpassed his own. After all…
« You are free. »
AN: This story was originally made by Attitude_Capital over on .
Like many others, I was majorly let down by the last chapter. Honestly, what a fucking shitshow. Imagine having a show be your #1 favorite for over half a dozen years, only for it to end with characters being OOC, character arcs being assassinated left and right, fascist subtext (after ch139, those Polygon articles calling AoT as a pro-nazi show are now correct), misogynistic portrayal of its female characters (Especially with the way they portrayed the relationship between a child bride and her rapist pedophile husband, as something positive or romantic), mishandling of mental illness, romanticization of genocide ("Thank you for becoming a mass murderer for our sake"), and many other messed up stuff. That last chapter ruined my enjoyment of AoT as a whole. The replay value for me is gone now. I can't even bop my head to OST videos on youtube. I probably won't even watch season 4 part 2, since the Paths Chapters also got retconned and utterly became meaningless.
There were a lot of fan rewrites where Eren still dies at the end, but is still 10x better than what we got in 139. Multiple peace ending rewrites were made by fans that managed to tie all the loose ends much better than in the last chapter. But I think this story would cater to my personal liking the most. Even though not everyone played an important role in this story, I think it's still much better than seeing them act like clowns in the last chapter. I'll still continue shipping EreHisu though, as I think they have one of the best dynamics in all of fiction.
Feel free to give your feedbacks, and please give some love to the original writer for this.