It was unclear as to when the hunters had become the hunted, but one thing for sure was that humanity was slowly prying its title back with stone cold, unforgiving hands. And this time its grasp would be firm. Unrelenting in fact, with the assured promise that each horrifying creature known as the titans would be eradicated from existence. And this promise essentially took its first form in the shape of a young boy named Eren Jaeger. Therefore, it was obviously a moment of confusion and misunderstanding as this young boy stood on trial before Darius Zackly, talks of his persecution high in the air that left much more than just a few grim faces.
There's a few familiar faces, but none pique your interest the same way in which Eren's does. There's just something so fresh and raw in those green orbs of his that you lean forward from your perch higher up inside the courtroom where nobody had seemed to spot you yet to get a better look. And that's how you intended to keep it. It was a different kind of new to listen to the way the young boy spoke so passionately in attempts of protecting his close friend, eyes alight with such a large amount of burning loyalty that it seemed to melt even your metal heart for the briefest second. The feeling passed as soon as it came though because a hushed murmur encased the courtroom the same time a stray tooth went flying across the floor. Watching with a frown, you knew better than to interfere with the actions transpiring down below but that didn't mean you had to agree with them as you surely recognised the smaller male who pressed the sole of his uniformed boot atop of Eren's head which was now crushed against the raised podium he was chained upon. If anything, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth at the sight of this blatant injustice but you also knew that there must have been a reason to this all. Or you surely hoped there was.
"My personal belief is that pain is the best tool for teaching discipline." His words cut cleanly through the tense atmosphere, leaving everyone enraptured because he dared to do what no one else did. "What you need now," he speak directly to the titan shifter at his feet. "Is to be taught a lesson, not given a talking-to. And you happen to be in a perfect kicking position." His words hold no sympathy for the beaten soldier kicked down, and his eyes possess no true emotion, leading you to reluctantly remember the savage man who he is.
Lance Corporal Levi Ackerman. Humanities supposed strongest soldier.
Your interest begins to slowly decline now, word of persecution is drowned out by the new suggestion of a recon mission and in some sake, Eren is spared with the one chance to prove himself under Lance Corporal Levi's dictation. Your gaze changes from the boy at the podium to the trembling girl whose veins are alight with rage, and something akin to delight fills you whole because she too appears to be someone who offers promise.
"I've reached my decision." Zackly announces but you turn before he says anything more.
A light chuckle is all that passes your lips in the dead silence of the courtroom and it seems only a few are slightly close in catching your retreating form as they see a flutter of a black jacket disappear behind a pillar and hear the sound of a door clicking to a close.
Would 104 become the lucky number for humanities survival? Did those kids offer true hope for us winning? Or would the entire operation collapse before anything could be put to use? Those were just a few thoughts which ran through your head as you leisurely stalked through the corridors, noticing they were beginning to slowly plump up with people which meant the trial had now more than likely come to an end and all spectators had been dismissed. No one thought any better to bat an eyelid your way, merely looking you over the once before turning away again all the whilst you walked straight past, the heels of your shoes rhythmically clicking against the cobble stone of the floor.
You've got one destination in mind and although you don't dare enter, you do lean against the wall besides the door which leads into the room that potentially holds humanities three best soldiers, their best commander and their next best shot at winning. You listen into their words, face void of expression as each soldier speaks. You catch the way the only female soldier present offers the titan shifter his tooth back but is promptly amazed to find the space had already been filled with a freshly grown molar.
What an interesting twist in events this has come to be, you think. Pushing away from your spot against the wall, you spare the door one last final stare before carrying on your way down the corridor.
Where you next find yourself is really a place you shouldn't be in at all, but it had been so easy to slip in unnoticed how could you not? It had been so tempting and who were you to deny such sweet, sweet temptation?
Surprisingly, the room is quite pristine, the smell of oak and ink thick in the air alongside a certain scent of cologne that's just 'him'. The papers across his desk aren't exactly confidential, but you shouldn't really be reading them either as you daringly drop down into his chair and throw your feet up atop of the desk and grasp at the first file that comes to sight which you can reach. It's a medical file you come to realise, the stats you're reading being what all candidates for the military must submit before their application is confirmed. Lazily checking the front of said file, the name 'Mikasa Ackerman' is inked across it in chicken scratch and you can't help ths hum of interest that passes your lips as you flick through it.
She had been the girl back in the courtroom who looked about ready to murder the Lance Corporal without a second thought and if you recalled correctly, she had been the one to rank first in her military training as part of the 104th Training Corps. So you were right in assuming back there that this girl certainly held promise, you wondered if she would rival that of the Lance Corporal himself. Either way, her stats are something to marvel at and it leaves you questioning why she would aimlessly devote herself to somebody who clearly isn't of the same level when the door opens and a tall frame saunters inside.
"Ah. So I was right in assuming it was you back there in the courtroom."
Erwin closes the office door behind him and removes his brown uniform jacket, discarding it over the back of a nearby seat before moving closer to where you sit.
"You noticed I was there?" You inquire, putting the medical files down to focus your whole attention on the blonde man in front of you who clearly didn't look any different since you'd last seen him. And it had surely been awhile.
"I wasn't so sure at first, I didn't know you were even back in the district after all. But I saw that jacket of yours and just knew." He shrugs, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world and you weigh his words out inside your head before deciding that he indeed does have a point.
You were truly never seen without that jacket on your shoulders and covering your back. The leather fraying and worn at the collar and sleeves from wear and tear and the colour faded a considerable amount from consistent use. It had been a gift from your parents all those years ago and although it had been rather large when you first received it, they had lovingly told you that you would soon grow into it. And grow into it you did. It was nothing overly special, but it was enough to garner a few extra lingering stares and you loved it. The jacket had triangle shaped lapels that flapped in the wind and silver, pretty looking clasps that ran down the right side. The material ended just above your waist and although it wasn't very conventional for the colder seasons, you would still be found constantly in it.
"I caught news of the breach in the Trost District," you shrug, removing your feet from the top of his desk. "I thought it was about time I returned home."
"Why? It's not like you returned home when the Shiganshina District was breached?" He refutes, and you nod once more because he makes a fair point. "What makes this one any different?"
"I don't know...I just knew that when I caught word of it I had to return and it looks like I was right. You've successfully gained the loyalty and assured help of a titan shifter Erwin. Why aren't you out celebrating with the others? He plugged up the hole in the wall, the clean up team is out there as we speak finishing off the last few and removing everything necessary. Humanity won this one." You stand to your feet, hands splayed atop of the blonde's papers which scatter his desk as you fix him with a hard stare. You'd always struggled in trying to understand each other, and even now was no different.
"At least 819 injured and roughly 200 killed in action or missing. We took such a crucial hit to our numbers that we can't really call it a win." He replied almost robotically and in that moment you have to remind yourself that even Commander Erwin Smith gets affected by these things behind closed doors and in the privacy of his own office because he was still after all...human.
You turn your head to the side and purse your lips at your own ignorance, mumbling a brief apology which you know he hears but chooses not to acknowledge.
"Anyway, I would love to welcome you back but the timing doesn't really permit me to do so." Erwin announces and you don't mind, because you're not really a flashy kind of person anyway and you know Erwin knows that. You lay low on the radar too much to appreciate a return celebration. "I will say though...about that trial today..."
"You're really going to entrust that Jaeger kid directly under the Lance Corporal?"
Erwin nods. "He is after all my best soldier, with you a close second."
You preen under his praise but sharply nod your head in reply. "So? What about the trial?" You prompt.
"I'm sending you back in." He informs you, and although you heard his words crystal clear, it takes you a moment or two to properly process them.
"Me? Are you being serious?! I thought you swore off me fighting after what happened back then?" You notice the way your words make the Comannder wince only in the slightest before he resumes his usual stoic features.
"I did. But we're getting close to something here and I could really do with your help back with the Scouts Regiment."
You scowl. The Scouts Regiment is where the Lance Corporal and his team operates and for one, you despise the very ground he walks upon with a dying passion.
"Still?" Erwin sighs, knowing your hatred for the specific soldier dates back to a few years prior and has been growing ever since.
"He's a cocky little shit Erwin, I don't like him."
"You do realise he is without a doubt our best soldier, right?"
"I don't care." You're stubborn. "If he's involved I'm not going."
Erwin pinches at the bridge of his nose in annoyance. "I'm not sending you in for him. I'm sending you in to monitor Eren Jaeger specifically."
"Why?" You narrow your eyes skeptically. "Don't you trust him?"
"I do. It's Levi's team I don't trust." Your eyes widen at his honesty. "I'm sure they won't be as open to the idea of a titan shifter on their team as Levi is, so I'm sending you in to essentially look over him. Am I understood?"
"I don't get why you need me specifically, but sure." You shrug, making your way over to the office door because you decide you have long since overstayed your visit. Grasping at the door handle, you intend to swiftly duck out of there when the Commanders voice stops you once more.
"Oh, and welcome home." He calls fondly.
You don't turn, not wanting him to see the soft smile that pulls at your lips as you yank the door open and take your first step past the threshold.
"Thank you big brother. It's good to be back."
The door swings to a close.