"Historia, Ymir, I think it would be best if you both were too spend some time apart. Possibly take a position with the newly formed Titan Corps?"
Historia felt Ymir tense up beside her, as Commander Erwin spoke.
"And why in the hell would I do that?" She said, her voice taking on a nasty note and her eyes narrowing into a glare. "I really don't want anything to do with the military anymore."
"Because it would be best for Historia's future," He said, his unblinking gaze finally making Ymir look away, "You do care about her future don't you?"
Slamming backwards from her chair, Ymir stormed out of the Commander's office near the center of the Karanese District, and Historia followed her. She knew why the Commander was asking them to stay apart, having been told of who she actually was, and what that meant for her in the long run, but… Ymir couldn't know. She could never become Queen with Ymir around.
But when she exited the office, she saw that her friend had disappeared into the crowd. A crowd which was excitedly pointing upwards into the sky, as a shadow flashed by overhead. The crowds had grown used to Eren's new Titan form, as well as his newfound abilities. She knew he had been doing quite a bit of work, spending hours upon hours in the air, helping to destroy any Titan's that neared the gates.
As she stared upwards, she failed to notice the man sidle up behind her and roughly bump into her.
"Hey!" She said, not noticing that the street had emptied out. She and the man were alone, and after chasing after Ymir she was out of view of the Commander's office. The man threw a punch that connected with her jaw, and sent stars shooting across her field of vision. Historia tried to cry out, but found a rag shoved in her mouth before she could draw a breath.
Then she was on the man's shoulder, and being carried into a nearby doorway, where she could hear the man speaking quickly with men around her as she struggled.
"We need to get her out of the city," The man holding her said, "Where's the cart?"
"Here, here," Another voice, deeper, responded, as she was bound with rope and blindfolded, being roughly shoved into a tiny space that made her draw her knees up into her chest, "Get her in the compartment. And remember, once we begin our attack, just act like you're running for your life. Get her back to the True King in one piece… Or it's your head."
And then something was set into place above her, and the world turned into a muffled darkness.
"They say they not want to be involved in your fights, friend Ragnar."
Ragnar stood before the forty Chiefs of the Huna as the Sun began its slow journey into the sky, as they lounged about the center of the clearing with their wives, old and newly acquired. Each of them was cut of the same cloth as Ha-Monte, small of stature with dark eyes and skin the color of caramel, but between the tribes the style of hair was seemingly the major deciding factor.
"Why?" He asked his erstwhile translator. "Can they not see what will happen to them if they don't fight?"
Although they were not as well versed in Ragnar's language as Ha-Monte, the Chiefs were by no means stupid, and one of them made a dismissive gesture, a flick of the wrist that seemed to sweep away Ragnar's argument. Ha Monte leaned in quickly and named the man as Gar-Forten, Chief of the Gar tribe.
"You not our High Chief," Gar, whose hair was done up in a tangle of messy braids, said, "You not even Huna. Ha-Monte say you great fighter, even claim you are son of Great Glass God, but we have no proof of this. And anyways, you have only one wife," He gestured to Annie, who, in deference to the Huna's culture, sat behind Ragnar as he spoke, "Talk of battles far away and gone mean nothing to the Huna."
Several other Chiefs mumbled agreement, speaking among themselves in hushed tones.
"What would you have me do?" Ragnar said quietly, holding the Chief's gaze as he spread his arms. "Your enemies, those who hunt you, now hunt An… my Wife and I," He could almost feel the cold daggers of Annie's eyes gouging into his back, as they'd only spoken… briefly upon the permanence of their relationship, as least since their escape from Jotunheim, "We share a cause, and wish only to get home. But we cannot reach there without your help. And… I believe we could help you with your… problems."
And this was where he saw several of the Chiefs perk up, even as he felt a welling up of angst at the thought of becoming a… mercenary. He knew Annie felt the same, even more so since it was her people that they would be slaying.
"You kill the Hunters?" Another chief, who Ha-Monte called Tak- Rali, called from the back, "We trade nine of our Warriors for each of theirs, you really think you kill Hunters? I think not!"
A horn sounded in the distance, and every Chiefs head snapped around towards the distant mountains, staring in silence for a moment. Then they exploded into a jabbering torrent, and leapt to their feet. The horn sounded again, and then suddenly cut off, as another took up its call from a few miles away.
"The Hunters come!" Ha-Monte shouted, as he ordered his wives to take their people and flee. "Flee! Get the women and children away!"
But his voice faded into a stunned silence as he saw Ragnar helping Annie up, then whispering a few words to her. Ragnar nodded to Ha-Monte, then turned and looked down at Annie.
"Look like our chance has arrived," He said to Annie, "Slightly sooner than expected."
"My father is a very… persistent man," She said, patting his shoulder, "And we did wreck quite a bit…"
"And start a slave rebellion."
"And broke Ymir out of their prison." Annie paused, pointing towards movement among the giant trees in the distance. The form of a small Jotunn appeared out of the early morning mist, eyes watching the fleeing crowds. It roared. "A scout. Now they know where we are. You want to get him?"
Ragnar shook his head.
Their Jotunn burst into being, rocking even the thick branches of the giant trees. The Huna paused in their flight, looking towards the two magnificent looking beings that had sprang from their midst, like the fabled Great Glass God.
And then the two Jotunn burst into motion, Annie accelerating far faster than Ragnar, who was burdened by his thick armor. She smashed into the small warrior, slamming it backwards into the trunk of a tree, the palm of her right hand crushing into its face. Her arm seemed to stretch apart at the elbow, then explosively contract, crushing the unlucky warrior's entire body into a billowing cloud of steam and fountaining blood.
Another Warrior, larger, took a running leap towards her, but the edge of Ragnar's scythe cut him in half while he was still in midair, and he finished him off cleanly with a strike from the butt of his weapon.
Then they were in a melee, as a dozen Warriors leapt upon them.
When it was over, they stood in a field of smoke, the rapidly decaying bodies of their enemies around them. In the distance, another horn sounded, and the massive form of Bertholdt's Titan appeared. His great arms whipped back, sending handfuls of… Ragnar thought they were large bags or crates, but which rapidly resolved into human forms, into the air. Directly towards where Annie and he were standing.
Move! His thought flashed out, even as his scythe faded into a cloud of steam, and he and Annie sprang away from where they were standing, sprinting directly away from each other. Hot air blasted their backs, but did not knock them down as it would have it they'd remained. The area where they stood was now devoid of all but the scorched trunks of the giant trees… and a squad of Myrmidons, already moving towards them. The brutish, armored form of Reiner led the charge towards Ragnar, while a trio of females wielding blades charged towards Annie.
Worry crept into Ragnar's heart, but he could not go to her aid… unless he went through the Myrmidons attacking him. Reiner slammed into him, but Ragnar had braced himself. The other Jotunn's chest slammed against the thick black armor that encompassed Ragnar's, and both struggled to gain an advantage as they twisted and wrestled.
Get out of my way! Ragnar thought, and saw the other Shifter's eyes narrow slightly. Get out of my… way!
The horn that sprouted from Ragnar's 'helm' gouged into Reiner's right eye, and the sudden distracting allowed Ragnar to send Reiner sprawling onto the ground. Another Myrmidon's blade skittered off Ragnar's right shoulder, and Ragnar rewarded the shifters intransigence with a backhanded blow that caved in his chest.
He forged his way through the Myrmidon's, towards where he'd last seen Annie, and finally saw her golden hair still bobbing and weaving. His scythe formed in his hand, and he slew one of her opponents with a slash, seeing she had the only other remaining opponent handled, before turning to face those he'd had to fight through to reach her.
But his own opponents were fleeing, retreating back the way they'd come. Annie came up to stand beside him, her Titan streaming steam from a dozen small wounds. They looked at each other, sharing a meaningful look, and then turned back towards the Huna.
We've won today… But this won't be the last we see of them.
"Father! The city is under attack!"
Astrid backed into the small room that Suttungr shared with his wives and children, as screams sounded outside. Arnora had already scooped up the younger children and Anya, and carried them to the cellar below their feet, and Suttungr threw his eldest towards the stairs as he himself thundered outside, his boots sliding on the sandy surface outside.
A Jotunn's foot slammed into the ground a hands breadth away from him, and he looked up, seeing the totally hairless, fifteen meter form. A pair of Wall soldiers, Suttungr couldn't tell if they were from the Scout Legion or the Garrison, attacked from his left, going for the nape of the Jotunns neck. It noticed them a moment before they could complete their attack, grabbing their wires and sending them hurtling into the houses at either side. And then it continued on its way, leaving Suttungr to watch it go.
"Hey, get down!" Someone called to him.
A man, one of his neighbors in the Karanese District, was standing in his doorway, gesturing to Suttungr. The Jotunn apparently heard him, and turned around, stomping forward.
I can't shift here! Suttungr thought, I'll kill everyone around as surely as if this Jotunn smashed them!
A shadow passed overhead, and the great winged form of Eren Jaeger appeared, distracting the intruder. Suttungr took the chance to turn away, sprinting as hard as his legs would carry him. He didn't make it far, as the intruders hand wrapped around him.
But he made it far enough.
His Jotunn burst into being, his great horns appearing already buried in the other Jotunn's neck. It wasn't a killing blow, unfortunately, and the other man was nearly as strong as he was, pulling away hard enough to snap one of his horns. Suttungr slammed a fist into the other Jotunn's stomach, doubling the already injured creature over. He went for a killing blow, driving the edge of his hand towards its neck, but took a step back in shock as the other creature produced a crystal blade and took off most of his right arm below the elbow.
As the situation reversed, and Suttungr went on the defensive, another figure joined the fight. Dio pounced, catching the Jotunn in a hold that not even its prodigious strength could get it out of. Suttungr struck the killing blow, and then took a moment to survey the city.
Figures moved all about, with soldiers attacking them in groups, but only haphazardly. These were much deadlier then even a wild Jotunn, and to fight them without a Jotunn wrapped around oneself was as good as a death sentence.
So that meant that he, Dio, and hopefully Sigmund and the other shifters, would have to do the fighting this time around.
"Move the rest our New Troops into place."
Ackilles Leonhardt stood atop the Wall of the Karanese District, and looked down at the damage his men were wreaking. His New Troops, those men and women who'd been given the Titan serum, were ravaging the rebel stronghold, overwhelming the troops who tried to stop them. He knew he was losing a few, but he also knew that they were only the slowest and stupidest who were dying to those troops blades.
But what he really wanted, was the rebel Titans, especially the outsiders and Eren Jaeger. Eren Jaeger they had located, as he swooped down upon the New Troops, but the rest had so far refused to show themselves. Now he watched as the last squad of a dozen New Troops dropped down off the wall, their simple arm mounted maneuver gear lowering them to the ground, and hoped that the rebels would show themselves.
"Sir, look there," Adam said, pointing towards a point in the exact center of the city, "The horned and misshapen Titan."
"Also known as Prince Suttungr and Diomedes Johnson," Ackilles added, "Dangerous foes."
Those two were fighting well, but his New Troops were well trained, and Ackilles smiled evilly as the misshapen Titan was thrown off its feet. The horned one went to its aid, but was unable to reach the other Titan through a gauntlet of New Troops. One of his squad leaders went for the kill, but was stopped as another pair of Titans shifted.
"The armored Titan and the other Prince," Ackilles said, as the two killed a trio of his New Troops through a combination of surprise and adequate skill, "I believe it is time that we joined the fight. Go ahead of me, I have something to do first."
His subordinate, who finally knew his full name and story, simply nodded and followed the New Troops path towards the battle. Ackilles had been waiting for just this moment. He pulled a wooden case, one that would normally have held a pair of glasses, and pulled the syringe from its protective sheathing. It was a dose of Titan serum, and the key to unlocking his godhood.
As he had learned from years of close contact with Lady Ishtar, a Titan shifters power could be increased with the application of additional Titans serum. Being born a Shifter counted as a first dose, and each additional dose magnified their power by an order of magnitude.
Now, as he stabbed the needle into his arm and shifted, he felt that wonderful surge of energy.
Gustav Hackett was not a coward, but when the sun was suddenly blotted out by a light far brighter and far closer, he turned and ran for the shelter of a low, sturdy wall. It made him feel infinitely better that Carr and Eleanor were with him in his flight, for the force of the blast shattered many of the already unsteady building around them.
They had just entered the city, having had to force the soldiers at the gate to open it at swordpoint, and were trying to find the Princes. Instead, they were forced to take shelter as someone shifted on the Wall, and with such force that the Wall cracked all the way to its base.
And now they watched a figure drop downwards, a figure that caused Hackett's eyes to widen. Long blonde hair streamed down the Jotunn back, but the face… no the faces, for there were three, was positively terrifying, and together they roared as the creature struck the ground. A long, thin tail stretched out behind it, whipping at the smoke that hung in the air. Its arms split at the elbow, giving it four clawed hands. Its feet ended in hooves, and it stood at least five meters taller than his own height.
"Let's go!" Eleanor yelled, and the three shifted and charged the monster, crystal blades gleaming. The beast simply turned and faced them, a long thing sword and a small round shield appearing in both sets of hands.
Hackett dropped below one of the swords as it flashed by, while Eleanor parried her own blow. Duncan vaulted off of Hackett's back, twisting in midair, his blades slashing for the kill. But his blades never touched the monsters neck, as its tail slammed into him, sending him tumbling. Then it went on the attack, and Hackett could do nothing against its assaults.
It moved so suddenly, that he had no time to block, slamming the edge of one of its shields completely through his shifted forms neck. It missed a truly killed blow, but he was out of the fight, and could only watch in horror as Eleanor was disabled with the same awful speed and precision. Only Carr remained, and Hackett could tell that much of the fight had gone out of him.
He parried the first blow, then the second, but the third took off his arm, the fourth his other arm. The Beasts tail lashed out again, a glint revealing the crystal edge that had formed on it, taking off both of Audun Carr's remaining limbs.
Hackett pulled himself from the flesh of his Jotunn, dropping down to the ground and running for cover. He stopped as he see the beast lift Audun Carr's torso up, and the blade on the end of his tail strike downwards.
Suttungr parried a sword blow for what felt like the thousandth time, slashing back at the attacker, but stopped as he saw the scene unfolding across the city. He didn't know who that Jotunn was… But his blood ran cold as he saw the way it dismembered Ragnar's three guards.
He only had a moment to look on in horror as the monster slayed old Audun Carr, as a thin blade whistled past his ear. A Jotunn with dark hair twirled towards him, taking off one of Dio's arms as it landed in between them. Eric, who was grappling with a pair of Jotunn, threw one of them at the newcomer, his mighty armored form sending the smaller Jotunn flying. The target simply ducked under, before slamming a blade through Suttungr's defense and into his chest, twisting the blade painfully. Suttungr roared defiance, slashing at the other Jotunn.
A flare flew upwards, yellow smoke slowly dispersing in the wind. The invading Jotunn disappeared as quickly as they had appeared, the shifters retreating towards the Wall. Suttungr fell to his knees, slowing tearing himself out of his Jotunn. He crawled on his knees, before dropping to the sand next to his Jotunn's neck.
He lay there for what felt like hours, but could only have been a few minutes.
"They ran, but we surely did not win." Sigmund said as he plopped down on the ground next to him, helping his brother sit up, as soldiers swarmed all about. They watched as Eleanor and Hackett carried the body of Audun Carr towards them. "Damn. I was just starting to like the old man."
Commander Erwin appeared soon after, wearing a long coat, his hair still as immaculately cared for. The men with him, including Captain Levi and the girl Mikasa, looked the worst for wear, though.
"Eren Jaeger was captured," The Commander said, voice calm and level, "As was Historia Reiss, though we don't know when she was taken. We must prepare a pursuit force."
Suttungr looked the Commander in the eye, and wanted to spit on the man.
"Then prepare one," He responded, "We will be along."
"My Lady, it appears that they have already come and gone."
Nergal knelt before Ishtar as they stood before the statue of Igigi. The great airship Star of Gilgamesh hovered in the sky above them like a great black whale.
"Yes, that is how it appears." Nergal flinched back from Ishtar as she reached out to stroke his head. "It appears that all of my servants are completely useless as well!"
And then she shifted, blasting Nergal away. Her spear lashed out, shattering Igigi's form, as all those around her knelt at the power of her Voice.
"We shall go to Jotunheim, and then to Hannibal" Ishtar's terrifying visage ordered, "For I have a feeling that in those places we can solve this puzzle of incompetence."
Nergal simply bowed and followed his master meekly back towards the waiting airship.