The world as we once knew it, ceased to exist.
The only thing the people were left with, was worry and existential dread.
Ever since the monsters attacked on that fatefull day almost 20 years ago, everything changed. One day changed everything, everything we knew and left us clutching onto what remained of our world, gasping for air in a suffocating surrounding.
People got lost in the security of the surrounding dome, clamping onto false hope that they were now safe.
They were never safe.
No one knew where they came from or what they wanted. They just suddenly emerged out of nowhere, as if to mock us for our short-lived nature. Their mere appearience was more horrifying than anything out of a nightmare or horrormovie, long claws of almost 11 inches length, weird warped horns on their thick skulls, pitch black, slick form, stained with white patches, blood and grime.
Few people had the chance of seeing them and come out alive.
They were believed to be 8 foot tall, two hollow holes instead of eyes, that revealed soul-devouring, empty white space.
No mouth, just knife-sharp, long teeth that could probably break all of your bones.
They were so foreign, new and terrifying that people disclaimed them having any earthly origin.
Some believed they were aliens, send to earth to destroy humankind in every possible way, others believed they were demons send straight from hell to punish humankind for their sins.
No one seemed to link the monsters to their dying ecological system, not any hint.
The distituation for the sole survival of the rest of the world by loosing over half of their territory, most technical archievements, order and the panic of the people, degenerated them.
The last hope were the fighters, the scientists and politicians that somehow saved the world from futher harm, the only ones shielding the citizens from their inescapable fate.
The rest of the world hurled together under a dome, made out of a force field of enormous size, gleaming every hour with it's calming blue light.
No one knew exactly where it came from. The authorities sure had their sources, but it seemed like they had hardly control over it. The only thing they could influence however, was making small, temporary gates, allowing to leave and enter the dome.
Indeed, humanities last hope now was to find resources for the starving population and possibly a solution, a weapon against the predators infesting their world.
Humanity hadn't got any alternatives besides assembling the ultimate team to save the world.
Not to be reckless they left backup and constructed different plans for different occasions. The first team was send to inspect the situation and report back.
With the knowledge how to fight against those otherworldly creatures, they had at least the chance to send multiple wagons of provisions and provide everyone with important information, assumed if they don't fail.
The team consisted of Erwin Smith, a high ranked military commander, corporal/captain Levi, ex-king of the criminal underground, cold and untouchable, Moblit Berner, Nile Dok and other lower commanders with their teams, groups of survival experts, biologists, a few of the best scientists, young soldiers and volunteers such as Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, Armin Arlert, Jean Kirstein, Marco Bott, Reiner Braun, Berthold Fubar, etc, consisting of 30-40 people.
They were discoverer, voyager, future settlers and the most experienced and strong-willed of their kind. More than a half of them experienced a loss at one point of their life, they weren't naive. Maybe some of them were too young for their own good, most of their companions didn't wanted to see children die, even if they were very competent teenagers.
One of them was Levi.
Eren found the infiltrating glare of the corporal towards him and his friends more than suspicious, but he didn't wanted to be unfriendly towards his childhood idol.
But the more the other glared, the more uncomfortable it got, Levi's glare somehow burning and scaring him. Why did the captain look so unsettling? Was it his criminal background, his cold-blooded manner or the fact that most of his facial expressions were either neutral or blood curling? Probably the last, given his disability to be social. Most of the people already deemed him a weirdo, even if he was widely respected and looked up onto. He was one of a kind.
After meeting most of the expedition members, everyone in the team had to undergo several tests, granting them full protection against known diseases.
Then there was the gate. The force field deadly for monsters, harmless for it's inhabitants, it's own ecological system, sadly an unsuccesfull one.
Armin gasped as he saw the force field open for the first time before his eyes, and made a few unsteady steps towards it. A watchman controlled the attendance, before he allowed entrance, gray clouds awaited us, concealing the sky.
Each member made their way outside, where countless vehicles were waiting for the groups. Eren and the other volunteers entered a small, but highroofed military vehicle linked with a wagon, one that had no windows and was concealed by curtains.
Upon beeing seated they waited for further instructions. Not long after, captain Levi came by all vehicles and gave each member a weapon. He wore his military clothes, but without his cap like anyone else, a belt with severe interesting looking attachments on his hips and a bored expression as always. "Listen attentively. This gun has two functions. While it only consists of 20 bullets each, it has a secret compartment that makes you switch to fire a lightning signal in the air, when you happen to be out of reach and in danger and plus 20 more bullets to reload.", his voice was neutral and factual, as he showed us how to use the gun, skilled hands running along the device. "If you encounter one of the beasts either shoot in the head and eyes, or in the chest. Follow each instruction given and don't act on your own if it could endanger the mission." He stepped out onto the ground and mechanically stuck the gun into it's case. "And don't forget to pull off the safety latch before shooting.", he pointed to it and was about to go.
"Captain.", Eren wondered interested, "Why don't we use a tank to drive through?"
Levi turned slowly to him, undismayed: "Because, brat... we are prospectors and spies. We are supposed to be lightweight to escape fast in dire situations and don't get stuck by a slow as tank, that will most likely drive more attention towards itself. Any more questions? Good." Eren didn't had the time to think how to talk back when the other turned and left, leaving him dumbfounded.
'Is he always so grumpy and blunt?' His glare only left the other's back when it vanished behind the other vehicles, 'Well, apropos good first impression....'.
Eren wasn't sure if it was his own fault, or the other simply had a bad day, he just hoped he wouldn't get on the captain's bad side, or it would be rather painfull.
The car engines roared up and each of them started to drive, in an organized formation. Eren looked back out of the car, back to the place he had called home, where he was born. It wasn't certain if he would come back alive, but he swore with all his heart, he would do everything possible to help save the world. He continued to stare outside, his eyes tracing around the force field, searching for familiar buildings, oblivious to everything else. Suddenly his view got blocked, only to find out that Mikasa closed the curtains and gave Eren a soft glare. "We should focus on the mission, Eren. We have to be strong now.", she softly reminded him and went back to her seat. The brown-haired teenager nodded and looked down. 'I just noticed... she looks really similair to the corporal. Are they related? She never told me about him.'
Another thing Eren was fascinated about, that Mikasa and Levi were a lot smaller compared to him, but could beat his ass whenever they liked. He could also imagine them beeing able to do this to the mayority of their companions and only the idea of this send uncomfortable shivers down his spine. 'But it would be quite honorable to get served by the famous captain...', he swallowed at his stupidity, 'or very shamefull....'
They continued talking occasionally for the rest of the way, full of excitement and an unbroken spirit. They drifted along scruffy landscapes for hours, gray fruitless earth, polluted lakes and rivers. Nothing to look at. The destruction of mother nature, openly displayed. Gray clouds blocking the sun out and darkening every colour. Their journey continued for hours, until in the outskirts of the horizon, a strange formation came in sight, announcing their first destination: a disguised camp.
The chatter quieted down and everyone focused, ready to strike should any attackers get in the way.
There was a lingering silence around, everyone tensly gripped onto their weapon.
A few of the experienced soldiers were send to check the base.
Time went by way too slow for their liking and the younger soldiers felt nervousness creep into their minds. For ten minutes they stood still without any explanation.
"What are we waiting for? Did something happen?", Eren stood up, impatient as he was and glared outside at the standing vehicles.
He waited a few more minutes and was about to step out when a slightly panicked Armin grabbed him by the wrist: "Eren! What are you doing...? We have to wait for instructions, remember!? Please sit down....."
Eren only furrowed his thick brows. He kept still, but didn't move to sit down, observing everything to detect any change.
When the cars suddenly moved in motion he almost hit his head against the wall, yelping surprised, as he stumbled forward rapidly, almost landing his knee someone in the gut.
"Bloody hell, look where you're stepping!",Ymir yelled annoyed at Eren, but he still hadn't taken a seat and just held onto the walls as he stared out. More or less parked next to their camp, still nothing moved and Eren unintentionally let his guard down at the unchanging scenery.
That, among the reason that Levi came from the other side of the car, didn't made him see him appear before him in time.
The small fighter climbed up to the opening doors of the car and used this to try to appear bigger than Eren, when he discovered him standing and staring. Confused he lifted up a questioning eyebrow, standing pretty close to him, evoking an almost mischievous sense of authority: "Something wrong, cadet?"
Eren was so overwhelmed by his sudden appeariance and closeness, that his surprised face looked absolutely priceless, just as his sudden step back.
The amusement must have clearly shown on Levi's face, or at least his eyes, because Mikasa registered it and rolled her eyes.
Eren therewhile looked embarassed and wide-eyed, not able to tear his gaze away.
"Keep it cool, man.", Levi calmly reassured him, then he looked more serious again, adressing everyone, "Take your stuff quick and go straight to the dormitory. We will stay here for a few days before we move on to something very important. Enjoy the time in peace as long as you can, you will need the strength. There's also a training room down the hall. Further explanations will follow." He nodded shortly at the people present and climbed down again, reminding of a cat.
Eren kept standing in the center of the high-roofed military car, as if set in stone.
"Move!", Ymir ushered him as she stepped out and to the back to quickly get her stuff. Hesitantly, Eren followed his friends to do the same.
Through a secret latch everyone entered the blackish, moss-overgrown building. It was dark and the slight gloomy atmosphere couldn't be lifted even after the lights lit up every corner.
Even though the rooms had a set-up of equipment, everything looked empty and dull, the walls dirty. It seemed like the place was deserted until they decided to visit.
Levi crinkled his nose and made a disgusted noise: "Ugh. This place is filthy."
Whereupon Erwin answered with an obvious smile: "You'll have to adjust to that. I'm sure we're going to find places much worse."
Levi looked even more disgusted and shook himself, demonstratively crossing his arms.
Eren wouldn't ever had thought that Levi was the type to complain about something like that as a corporal, but he guessed it was one of his unmatched characteristics.
Now all volunteers and cadets were stuck in one dormitory room that consisted of beds and a few lonely shelves next to the walls. It wasn't much, but everyone had enough place in it and now waited what was yet to come.
The state had equipped them with a big assemblage of inflatable matrasses. One latest invention highly practical for the military. They were perfectly sterile, made from a very solid rubber and other substances, only inflatable with a special pump that came with it. The soldiers only had to carry around a bag full of something that looked like deflated balloons to supply every team member with at least 4 matrasses. Not only that, but they were easy to clean and could be used everywhere, even as a boat. So even thought the places were old, they only had to disinfect some parts, while using their own sheets.
"Yeeeeeager!", an incredibly annoying male voice resounded next to him,"I heard someone had stress with the captain! Is there one thing you can do right!?"
Eren's face lit up in fury, he stood up, eyebrows furrowed, fists clenched: "What do you know, horseface!?"
Jean, the incredibly annoying cadet with a long face and the sassiest grin, stepped closer. "Big mouth, but nothing behind it", he teased, dragging the words.
"I think that fits your discription way better!", Eren threw himself at him with a warcry and they were soon fighting.
He held Jean right around the collar on the floor when the said spat in his direction: "At least, I know how to treat someone, I have a poster of on my wall!"
"Britney Spears is dead, horseface!", Eren pushed him harder against the ground.
"Very funny. Ask him for an autograph, maybe he'll punch you in the face!"
"I'd like to see you cry for my help once the monsters attack!", Eren punched him as Jean kicked him in the ribs.
"Oh, noooo, I'm so scared, Yeager-bombastic!"
The nearby commander Shadis got alerted by the noise and soon stepped between them, while the other cadets just watched both, interested of the outcome. (Mikasa thankfully was in the bathroom...) They had to behave if they didn't wanted to get send back.
One and a half hours later everyone gathered in the big assembly room. Cadets were seated in the middle, scientists and etcetera in the front and the commanders guarded the whole room or sat humbly in the back.
Erwin opened the meeting:
"Dear comrades and colleagues. Approximately in a week we'll encounter our first mission. Currently we are located here-", he pointed at a red point on a large map, "The Rose is located here..."
The Rose was the name people had given the surrounding dome and the map showed the propotion of their current, unnamed location to their starting point.
"On Thursday we will continue our travel towards this point. It will approximately take 3 to 4 days." He had pointed to another location, much further than the other ones, marked in another colour.
"The science laboratory in Maria City was the last working laboratory, before the territory went over to the monsters. We have all reasons to believe we'll find some results and therefore brought science experts to examine and confirm scientific evidence. If the tests had some groundbreaking or important results we can assume the information is concealed and sealed. Now....", Erwin, who always appeared very collected, neutral and even cheerfull, seemed very serious and even a little worried: "I advise each of you to be very carefull on this mission, because we aren't exactly sure what's waiting for us and what interceptions we'll have to come through. But we have to get the results, because they are our only hint so far...."
He let that sink in, his eyes somehow scanning each of them in order and lingered a bit longer on Levi. The captain nodded unnoticed at the commander, before the said sighed and looked at the audience once again: "Now our scientist Hange Zoe will explain the backgrounds."
He stepped aside and let the woman find her place at the blackboard. She wore a lab coat and comfortable clothing, her wild brown hair in a high ponytail and round glasses on her nose. She looked cheerfull and friendly despite their situation. "Helloooooo! I'm professor Hange, but you can also call me Miss Zoe!" She looked around, somehow waiting for confirmation and wondered: "Don't be shy! Say : 'Hello'!" Levi rolled his eyes as the team greeted her.
"Well, well, well. As you know we have two things of interest. Sustainability of nature and the weak points of the monsters!" The woman quickly retrieved a pen out of her pocket at pointed at 'the Rose'. "Starting from this point the ecological condition gets even worse, we're surrounded by wasteland-", she pointed to the area further and around their current location, "But if we go west, we might even find a water stream with a pollution level under 50%. We just have to find clues that might guide us....."
The lecture went on for quite a time, because the woman seemed so ingulfed in the things she said it was a little hard to follow her.
"Okay. Any questions? To anything!?", she clasped her hands together and looked excitedly at her tired listeners.
"Yes.", Ymir sounded bored, "How can we be sure, that the slight 'cleaner' place with the ressources wouldn't be perfect for an ambush?"
Hange seemed bemused at that: "That's a good question, my dear. Indeed the monsters are most likely drawn to places they can feed from and we would probably wait for them to die out eventually if our ressources wouldn't go to an end. So I guess we can't really and have to distract them with the machine we brought with us!"
Erwin stepped in again: "We have ways to keep out of their way, but this is the only mission where we can't, so once again, we have to be extremely carefull and stick together if we don't want any casualties."
Other questions followed, making it easier to process the information, rather than thinking too deeply about the threatening things that were to come.
The blonde rolled over one side of the bed, turning towards his neighbouring best friend, which was absently staring at the wall above him, hands behind his head rested against the pillow.
"Yes?", he answered quietly.
"Do you think we can win?" From Eren's facial expression it was impossible to derive his emotions and opinion, so Armin focused on himself.
"Honestly, I don't know.... I never was on any mission once.... just helping to search for food outside the dome a few times. Do you think we have a chance?"
Armin was interested to hear his opinion, but the brown haired just stared, his blue eyes glued to the wall. The others, pretending to sleep around them also eagerly awaited his answer. Eren. The most stubborn, strongwilled and resistant cadet probably could assess his abilities or at least cheer everyone up with motivational words.
After a few minutes too late, exhaustion and resignation calming the tide of curiosity, Eren finally spoke, and quite ambiguously: "I can't give an answer yet."
"But will I get it?"
"Yes.", Eren nodded and the weird tension in the room faded, because no one, except the rumminating boy wanted to think about the future, rather staying in the present to survive.
But Eren wasn't afraid to do that and even after beeing called stupid for that multiple times, everyone was secretly thankfull that someone was scepticall and questioned everything.
Eren woke up hours before anyone else, his head heavy and his mind bored. Everyone was still peacefully sleeping, so he decided to sneak out, quietly putting on his clothes before rummaging through the halls. There were the sleeping rooms of the soldiers and commanders, the experts, getting special treatments. Soon he found a cafeteria and many more, but most doors were closed and not daring to snoop, he proceeded down the hall to the training room. Having expected to be alone, Eren's eyes witnessed quite a view when he entered.
Levi, lonely and handsome, was lifting weights with only one hand moving, angling up as his bicep buckled and stretched, in dark jeans and a tanktop, standing at the far side of the room, pensively staring at an indefinite point on the wall. He looked so casuall, yet so breathtaking and Eren's gaze widened witnessing just how ripped Levi truly was. Those dumbbells had to be at least 30 kg heavy and Levi moved them so graciously, as if he was a poet, rather than a sportsman. No sweat, no nothing, relaxed as if he was taking a walk.
After noticing that he was gaping, Eren, now truly muddled, moved to a random exerciser not to disturb his idol in his silent training.
The corporal, of course noticed the person in the room, but it took him long enough to get out of his pensive daze.
Therewhile the younger male decided to do pull-ups. Even he was way to small for them and probably had to jump to reach. The lifting was painfull and messy, leaving Eren huffing heavily, distressed. 'C'mon... just one more! I know I can do it... if I don't, I'll never get even close to be as strong as Levi.. I am not food for the monsters!!!' His hands were soon slippery from nervous sweat, his chest aching from despair. He yerked up in frustration, trying to jump upwards and slipped, pulling his muscles hard and falling loudly to the floor. "Shit!", he cursed under his breath and rubbed the back of his head, crouched on the hard surface.
The corporal finally turned his head towards his direction in obvious interest. Eren stood up again, wiping his hands against his pants and straightened up for following trials. His efforts were noticed. "You're doing it wrong."
Eren turned his head to discover the other going towards him with a calm expression on his face and attentive eyes. The boy tilted his head, his own eyes widened and interested, taking a step back to see the shorter male better.
Levi appreciated this gesture and glared up to the rod Eren tried so fiercly to reach.
"You won't manage any pull-ups, if all you do is jumping wildly in the air.", he stepped closer and gestured towards his arm, "You have to go either slow or gradual. You have to feel it in your arm. Imagine you're climbing up a mountain. The ledge is hard to reach, but you have to get up, what do you do?"
Levi waited for an answer that wasn't yet to come and tilted his head: "Your whole body needs to be taut. Reach it and push yourself up, use the verve if you aren't strong enough to carry your own body. Grab... on that rod firmly, as if your life depends on it. ... Then I'm sure you'll do every exercise effectively..."
Eren looked at him with big, surprised eyes. Even though he wasn't used to such attention and even less to such a weird type of advise, it was strangely helpfull and purposefull. He nodded eagerly as his face lit up: "I sure hope that I will be helpfull to someone like you!"
Levi was internally amused, but didn't allowed to openly show or share his enthusiasm: "Tch. First be helpfull to yourself and then we're talking." He slowly turned away, strolling back to his weights. Having expected the conversation to be over he almost winced when Eren's loud and happy voice called after him: "Thank you, Captain! I'll sure remember that!"
'Brats usually understand if I am beeing ironic or unfriendly and he is thanking me for that? For what exactly? That I spend 2 minutes telling him stuff that is basic knowledge among our troops???', Levi sometimes tended to forget himself, that not all his actions were meant to upset someone, ignoring every previous interaction, so he could be TRULY satisfied to be the forever grumpy, badass, lone wolf.
Not that he was everything he pictured himself to be, he just wanted things to be in a specific order, all to his liking. Or so he thought.
Funny enough, he couldn't help the occasional glare towards the younger male for any progress and watching him was somehow soothing. He also wondered why he was up so early. This was slightly unusual among cadets and Levi was mostly alone in the training room, because everybody rested. That kid had to be different.
He tried not to distract his mind, thinking back to their first conversations, but somehow the thought of having more of them entertained him.
But as soon as the other left, he frowned. 'Not like I care. We're having war and no adventures to Pony-Island.'
Levi couldn't remember having any friends for as long as he was alive. Ah, except one time. They died.
He wasn't the type to be constantly at war with himself, but something was setting him off. It was something about this kid, something he couldn't quite grasp, but he hoped it would never be relevant enough. It didn't matter. Too often now he had tried to convice himself of stuff like that. It simply doesn't matters.... Because life is shit anyway and we are all going to die. .... Or so he thought.
Lost in thought, now because of a different reason and less concentrated, it went past his mind to continue his work-out. That could turn out quite interesting.