Part 11: Move on
He was late... Too late. He was devastated and frustrated, due to the fact that their final moments, were focused on the mission. They cannot think for themselves because they wanted to save the human race. They can't fulfill their personal dreams because they have to fulfill their duty as he stated earlier. They were too loyal in their part. It was definitely a cruel fate for them. It was so cruel; his heart broke into pieces...
“Shit… This can’t be happening… this can’t be fucking happening…” He still thought due to incredulity, due to the fact that the very last time they met, was when they caught the Female Titan for the first attempt.
The only thought that came in his mind, was: it was his fault.
But what was the use of blaming himself? Was it because he ordered them to protect Eren with their own lives? After all, what's done is done. Nothing can change that fact. No one, also expected this kind of outcome.
He closed into Petra, and then lied her down on the grass. But she can't lie down flat in the surface, since her spinal cord was broken. He kneeled by her side and held her in his arms. Rivaille looked into her lifeless brown eyes. She was already dead... He ran his fingers to her sunset colored hair, and felt the blood hardening on them. For a girl who had a lot in front of her, she shouldn't have died like this. He stared into her lifeless eyes for the last time and then closed them with his two fingers. He ran his hand on her cheek until he gently placed him palm on her cheek, and attempted to wipe the blood off, but it was already too hard and sticky.
It was definitely a silent reunion. Their deaths will be proclaimed pointless, if they fail the task of this expedition. But, too many have lost their lives already. It was already too much.
He carefully lied her down in the grass. He stared at her for the last time. "All of you did your part. All of you must have had enough of this hellish nightmare right? I will promise you guys... I will end this for our sakes..." definitely, with his words, it was not about the goal of this expedition. They are defeated already. They lost too many soldiers, only for the sake of Eren. It's no use to capture the person inside the female titan.
He flew out and pursued the female titan. He left their bodies there, and he knew he had to save Eren. He did not want anyone to die already. They died for his sake, and for humanity. He has to do it, even if it kills him.
He quickly went deeper to look for the female titan. He found her first, gnawing off the flesh from the nape of Eren’s Titan form, after which, seeing Eren for a second and then put it up in its mouth.
“Eren!!!” A scream of a raven haired woman was heard from the distance near the female titan. It started running, and the woman was chasing after it. He observed how she was chasing after it. But it was surprising to Levi that the woman managed to slice the flesh of the female titan without hardening itself. It came to a point it fell down on its knees. But the injury was not enough to fully debilitate her movements. The injury inflicted on to the female titan was still lacking. She was about to slice up the flesh on the titan’s nape, but it hardened. After her blades broke, she hung by the trunk of the tree and reloaded her blades. But suddenly, the arms of the female titan swung towards the trunk the woman was hanging on to.
"Shit... another died?! DARN IT…” He sped up and was surprised to see the woman attempting to take on the titan again, with no injury. Fortunately, she was still alive and still made an attempt to take on the Titan. Before she was going to attack her again, Levi immediately grabbed her from the waist.
"Fall back for now." he told her and they stopped for a moment. Levi stared at the titan again. “Maintain this distance. It’s pace has slowed down.” He let her go and tailed on the titan in a deliberate pace in order not to distract her attention more. “It seems that Eren was gnawed off by that titan.” He looked at her for a moment. “So, is Eren dead?”
She simply glared at him, and then glared back at the female titan. “He’s alive… sir… the target seems intelligent, and went through all the trouble to escape after putting him in its mouth. Its goal maybe to capture Eren. If he wanted him dead, it should’ve just crushed him.” Her answer was straight and logical.
“Maybe it’s goal was to eat Eren. He may be inside her stomach right now. So it’s reasonable to assume that he’s dead.” He replied negatively.
“He’s alive…” She insisted.
He simply looked at her, and then looked away. “I hope you’re right.”
"If only you protected Eren, all this shouldn’t have happened.” She angrily stated as she glared at him from behind.
He simply looked at her, and suddenly recognizes her. He also realized that her words pierced him so much. If he had left them with him, and stopped their horses, even from that point they captured the titan, they'd still be alive right now. But no one expected this outcome… no one expected these events to happen. "So, it was you... Eren's close friend..." Yes, she was the woman who fiercely glared at him when he beat Eren up to save his life back at the court trial... Mikasa Ackerman.
He looked at the female titan once again. “We’ll limit ourselves to a single goal. We’re not going to kill the female titan anymore.”
“But it killed a lot of our comrades.” She complained.
“Listen and do as I say. As long as it can harden its skin, we can’t kill it.” He focused his blade in front of him while he looked at the female titan. “We’ll pin our hopes on Eren still being alive, and we salvage him before it leaves the forest.” He tightened his grip on the handle. “I shred it to pieces; you draw away its attention.”
Mikasa was silent, and followed his orders then went ahead in a fast pace. As for Rivaille, he brought his blades out, focusing his eyes on the female Titan. Mikasa successfully distracted her, and he knew it was time. He stared at the female titan from behind, changing the way he gripped his blade. As soon as he was ready, the female titan quickly glanced at him and was about to dig its fist onto his body. As soon as her fist would come in contact to him, he immediately attacked her, severing her arm. He stopped at one place and severed her eyes, where his blades were stuck in them. He jumped back and reloaded, then after that, he continued to sever her body until it sat by the nearest tree behind her, still covering her nape. His eyed were filled with frustration... he was already demented.
He slashed the Titan's flesh quickly so it would be hard to regenerate.
"THIS IS FOR THOSE SOLDIERS YOU MERCILESSLY KILLED.." he slashed more of its tissue.
"THIS IS FOR MY SQUAD..." He still continued to sever it until its arms would fall...
"AND THIS IS FOR THE LIFE OF A YOUNG GIRL YOU TOOK WHEN YOU LEFT HER WITH A BROKEN SPINE..." After that, the hands of the female titan fell, with her nape, vulnerable. Suddenly, he remembered all the stupid things his squad did while they were keeping an eye on Eren.
“Captain… thank you for choosing me to be part of the special operations squad.” A faint voice of Erd ran in his mind the time when he approached him and asked him to be part of the squadron. He also remembered the time he assisted him in certain problems.
“Are you sure that I’m qualified enough Captain? I mean… there are a lot more out there! But still, I really appreciate it. I’ll do my best.” another faint memory which includes Gunther talking to him as if he was hesitating, but then Gunther had to accept it.
“I’m going to beat the crap out of the brat if he does anything stupid. You can count on me Captain.” Auruo said as he fixed his cravat in front of Levi when he chose him. Even though he was kind of irritated to how he imitated Levi, and how fixated he is on Petra, he was a very reliable person too.
“I would like you to join the Special Operations Squad, if ever the Scouting Legion would win the argument against the Military Police. So, do you accept my offer?” He remembered himself asking this question to the girl he fell in love with.
“Of course I do Captain!!” Petra’s warm smile suddenly flashed in his mind. That was the time he chose her as the last member of his squad.
He remembered the day they first met, he remembered the days she made coffee for him, the times she had stood up for him, and the time she expressed her true feelings towards him before the expedition. He never forgot all those moments. Even the times when they'd make fun out of everything, he hasn't forgotten it. Those are the moments that told him they don't regret fighting... they were all brave... they stood up for humanity... they tried to live happily even if it was short. They had so much in front of them, but it really hurts inside, that he’d lose all of them like that.
As his eyes looked for Mikasa, she was about to attack the Female Titan's nape. And by the time he saw its hand going towards her, he needed to act immediately.
"DON'T DO IT!!!" he called but she did not listen to him at all. She continued to go for it. As she was going near the nape, the titan's hands was about to squish her on the trunk.
"Fuck!” Rivaille sped up, forcefully pushed Mikasa and bounced on the female titan's hand. He exerted a lot of force with his weight to stop the hand, which resulted to spraining him. "Ngh..." he was right on time, unfortunately sprained though. But still, he cannot stop there. He has to get Eren out of its filthy mouth.
He landed on a trunk and sped up to the titan and sliced the skin holding the jaw. Her jaw dropped with its tongue and there was something covered with sticky saliva. He looked closely.
"Eren!" Mikasa shouted with relief. Rivaille reacted and took him out before the titan would move again.
"He's alive like we hoped so come on. And he's covered with saliva. Let's retreat for now..."
“But…” He knew that she wanted to finish off the female titan… but for now, she must give up on that.
“Don’t lose sight of our objective. Is it more important to get what you want? Eren’s an important friend to you, isn’t he?” He left ahead of her with Eren in his arms. Mikasa followed and then went to Rivaille's side to see if Eren was really alright.
Nervous, Rivaille looked at the female titan to see if it was chasing after them. But instead of seeing that sight, it was crying...
They distanced themselves away and rendezvous with the other remaining members of the Scouting Legion.
“Collect all the bodies you can find. We’ll bring them home.” Erwin ordered. “Levi, Ackerman, assist them too.”
Rivaille nodded and went ahead of Mikasa, even if he had a sprain.
“Are you sure you can continue on with that injury?” Mikasa asked.
“I just have to get the bodies of my squad back, then I’ll stay put.”
Mikasa was silenced. “I see then.”
Rivaille dashed with his maneuver gear within the forest, and the location of where his squad died. Surprisingly, he saw titans eating them up already. Erd’s upper half is being eaten up by a 3 meter class, and Auruo’s body was already devoured, since his body was not there. Before he would move on to Petra, he killed the other two first. After that, he immediately looked for Petra, hoping that she isn’t going to be consumed by these foul creatures. He was glad that she was still lying down to where he placed her, but a titan was getting ahead of him, and stared at her body.
“Motherfucking bastard.” It was going to grasp her in its hands, but Rivaille killed it in a second. He looked at her face again.
“Captain.” Someone called him. He turned to see who it was, and saw Jean Kirchstein.
“What is it?” He asked with dark eyes.
“We collected the bodies that were left in the forest.”
“I see. Move on ahead.”
“But… do me a favor will you.” Rivaille called Jean’s attention before he would leave.
“What would it be sir?” He asked.
“The body hanging on the branch over there… please put him down and bring him back.” He stared at Petra’s body again. “I can only carry one body.”
Jean looked at Petra, then back at Levi, and was wondering why he can only carry one. As soon as he walked, Jean finally found out the reason why he said he can only carry one body.
He’s badly sprained.
Jean obeyed his orders and then approached Gunther’s corpse.
Rivaille carried Petra in his arms, with one hand on her shoulder blade, then the back of her knees.
As Rivaille followed Jean, he saw that Jean was having quite a problem from getting him down.
“Captain, I have to say that I can’t get him down.”
Jean looked back at Gunther. “If we do, then his head would fall down.”
Rivaille looked closely at Gunther’s body, and looked at the nape. Due to the depth of the cut, it was obvious that his head was hanging on flesh and tissue. Part of his spinal cord connecting the skull was cut off, by 3 inches. He was killed like how they killed titans.
“Bring him down. We’ll wrap him with his cloak so that his head won’t fall off once we travel out of this forest.” Rivaille temporarily goes down, and placed Petra by the trunk. He went up again to assist Jean in getting Gunther out of this mess. As they freed him, the both of them placed him down, and Rivaille removed Gunther’s cloak and placed it on the ground. He took his carcass and lied him down on the cloak, and then wrapped him with it. “It’s good now. Let’s go.” Rivaille kneeled by Petra’s side, and attempted to carry her. As soon as he was about to carry her, his ankle flinched a bit.
“Ngh…” It obviously hurt, since it was a new made sprain.
“Are you alright Captain?”
“I’m fine. Go on ahead without me. I’ll follow.”
Jean was a bit hesitant. “What happened to her?”
Rivaille did not want to answer. “A broken spine. The female titan must have crushed her on that tree.”
“I see… I’m sorry.” Jean said.
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I shouldn’t have asked that question.”
“It’s fine. I’ll just have to carry her. Go ahead.” Rivaille ordered Jean.
Instead of leaving, Jean decided to help him, and assisted him in placing Petra in his arms. It was already obvious that the sprain was getting worst.
“Didn’t I tell you to leave already?” He angrily questioned Jean.
“I’m sorry Captain… but I can’t leave an injured comrade behind me.”
“Heh… that’s a nice resolve…” Rivaille slightly laughed, but it was sarcastic. “Let’s get going then.”
Both Jean and Rivaille went out of the woods, successfully making it out safely.
“Captain, there were 2 other people in your squad right? Where are they?” Jean curiously asked.
Rivaille simply ignored the question and went to the people who wrapped the cadavers of those who died. As soon as he handed Petra over, that was the only time Rivaille responded to Jean’s question. “They were devoured by the titans.” He tried to casually walk passed him. “Now help in stacking the carcass of the soldiers who died. I can’t assist even if I wanted to.” He limped away, until he sat down by the grass, with his thoughts totally occupied.
A few minutes passed, and he decided to stand up, with a little recovery in his ankle. He was looking for something… or rather… someone. Corpses are stacked on the ground before they will be stacked on top of each other in the cart. They were wrapped in tan cloth to ensure they won’t let anyone gaze on their horrid appearances after getting killed. Rivaille was walking, until he saw a free hand outside of the cloth. It appeared thing and small, and he immediately assumed it was a hand of a woman, and it had a bite mark by the lump of flesh near the thumb. He knew it was her. He kneeled by it, and opened the tan cloth. His assumptions were right. It was her. It was Petra.
“Tch… look at you… you’re quite… a mess… aren’t you…?” He took a look at her again, and then thought of an idea as soon as he saw her badge. He simply took it off… as a symbol that proved that she lived. Does she have a family? If she does, how can he face them?
He suddenly heard bickering about recovering the other corpses who weren’t recovered due to the titans. Of course, he had to interfere, in order to convince them, that they are dead. Whether they have the body or not, the lifeless, will be lifeless. Nothing will make a difference, if there was a body or not. He walked away as soon as Erwin turned his back.
“Don’t you two at least have any human feelings?!” Rivaille heard this soldier shout these words at them. If he only knew, what kind of hellish nightmare he’s been in, if that soldier only knew, the kind of pain he’s trying to endure at this point…
Erwin has ordered everyone to embark towards the wall. As they were, a red flare was fired from the rear, indicating that a titan has been spotted.
Rivaille looked around to see if there are any tall trees or buildings they can hang on to, to kill the titans after them. But there was none. It’s simply difficult to fight in this kind of environment.
“I don’t see any tall trees or buildings… fighting it out here would be difficult.” Rivaille told Erwin.
“Go onward at full speed!!” Erwin commanded.
“Tch…” Rivaille slowed his horse down to assist the ones in the rear, but it was already inches away from them. They kept on squabbling on how to deal with the titan, until one of them decided to kill it while the other one distracts it. Just like his plan with Mikasa Ackerman as they incapacitated the Female Titan. But they can’t add anymore casualties. They lost too much troops.
“Don’t do it… just abandon the bodies.” Was this the right thing to do? Surely, it was the only way to outrun the titan chasing after them.
The two soldiers stared at Rivaille, hesitant at the moment.
“Many corpses haven’t made it back in the past expeditions. These guys are nothing special.” It was against his will, but they have too. Even if he knew, Petra’s corpse would be thrown away as well, he was thinking about the lives of those who survived the expedition. Too much died… he cannot allow any more additional casualties to occur. It was already too much.
“Are we really going to do this?” One of them cried.
“Damn…” Rivaille simply clicked his tongue. It was clear he was hesitant. But for the sake of the survivors, they have to.
The other one threw one body out… the titan ignored it. Rivaille was looking at the scene, and another body was thrown out of the cart. The next body was thrown out, and the tan cloth was partially removed, and part of the face of this corpse was seen.
“Goodbye…” Was all that he can say in his mind as he looked at her body discarded from the carriage.
“C—Captain!! What do you think about the Coffee I made??” He suddenly remembered the moment the first time he tried her coffee, as she still wore that tender smile. After that, he also remembered how she usually tripped on the horse when she was getting on it. Funny… and unforgettable moments. The time they sat by the room until the sun has set, the time her door was locked and was broken by Auruo, the time she cried in front of him stating that she was very happy, the time that she thought he was angry at her for being reckless towards Eren… and the last time they had their actual conversation… he reminisced it all, as he stared at her face, which was still covered in blood.
“I’m also sorry…”
They managed to outrun the titans, after abandoning the last body. They watched the horror as the titans simply devoured them, even with the tan cloth wrapped around them. Rivaille simply did not look back. He might see her body be devoured by these creatures. And that is one sight… he does not want to see.
They stopped for a while, altering their route going back to Karanes, since it might be possible that there are already titans that are against their way. Rivaille was still in his horse, and searched for someone. And that person, was the man who told him he doesn’t have any human feelings at all. As soon as he found him, he was spacing out. It was clear that after losing his friend named Ivan, his other friend, got devoured in front of him. Surely, he was blaming himself for his reckless decision. But Rivaille can’t simply get mad at him for such recklessness. As soon as he approached him, the young man was hesitant to face him.
“C—captain Levi…” He watched Rivaille come down from his horse. “I…”
Rivaille brought out something from his pocket. “Here… this proves that they lived…” He put it firm in the palm of the man’s hand. “To me… at least…”
Rivaille put his hand down. “This was Ivan’s…” He lied… of course. He knew he had to comfort this man, since he’s going through depression. He lost his two friends, in one day… and they cannot salvage anything more from their corpses. This is the simplest way to calm the man down. He had to give the patch he got from her, even if it hurts inside. He rode his horse again, and was in occupied in deeps thoughts again. After that, they were ordered to move since they knew they cannot linger any longer.
They arrived back at Karanes. It wasn’t surprising at all that a lot of people scowled at them, for wasting their taxes and money for such a useless expedition they say. Rivaille did not want to react with their statements. All he thought in his mind right now, is that they were mindless assholes who never considered their sacrifice. They were people who thought of themselves, regardless, they weren’t the ones who were fighting. He did not want to make an issue out of it anymore. All he wanted to do right now is to rest… and try to move on.
“Umm.. Captain Levi!!” A voice of a middle aged man called him from afar. He felt his steps close in to him. “My daughter is in your squad, and I’m Petra’s father by the way…”
“Why… now…” That’s the only thought he can think of right now. Why does he have to show up to him… at this moment…
“I wanted to talk to you… before she sees me…She sent me this letter… and she told me that you respected her abilities, that you let her join your squad…” His father looked at him too. “She also mentioned that she was going to live up to your expectations… Well, she’s too starry eyed… not being able to consider how her father feels…” He then gave out a nervous laugh. “Well… as her father… I think it’s still too early for her to marry… and she still has a lot to experience… she has a lot ahead of her…”
He simply can’t respond to his statements. He doesn’t know how to react in front of him. He does not know the right words to tell him.
“Anyway… thank you… for taking care of my daughter. All the letters my daughter sent me, was all about her experiences in the scouting legion after leaving the household, but it suddenly changed. All her recent letters consisted mostly of you.”
Rivaille continued to walk with his horse, until he stopped walking.
Petra’s father looked at Rivaille with a trace of nervousness in his eyes. “What’s wrong? Captain Levi??” He asked, making a fake smile, which was pretty obvious.
Rivaille simply breathed in, to calm himself from telling Petra’s father that she’s dead. He continued walking, until, her father held his shoulders from behind.
“Based on your expressions... please… answer me honestly… Captain Levi…” He looked down.
Rivaille stopped and faced him. He still did not respond to her father’s statement, but he was ready to listen.
“My daughter… My daughter… Petra… is… is she really here right now?” He held Rivaille’s shoulder with both hands. “Is my daughter here??”
Rivaille simply looked down, and shook his head, telling him that she’s not here, making her father conclude, that she’s already dead.
“I…I see…” He suddenly let out a cracky voice. It was clear he was crying. “The last time I saw her…” He began to tighten the grip on Rivaille’s shoulders. “The last time I saw her, was when she graduated as one of the excelling students of the Trainees Squad, a couple of years back… She was determined… to contribute… in saving humanity. She was determined to do it… I accepted her decision, but I was against the fact that she wanted to join the Scouting Legion, because it was simply dangerous…” He kneeled down, with his hands clutched on his sleeve. “But in the end… I accepted her decision… I accepted that decision for her to be part of the Scouting Legion. I only wanted her to live a normal life… I wanted her to live like a normal girl, after her mother’s passing… but she did not want that…” Petra’s father continued to shed tears. “As her father… right now… all I want to know is… did she die… with honor? Did she live up to your expectations?? Did she devote her life to save humanity??” He continued to weep. As time passed, Rivaille decided to comfort her father, since it was a surprise that she too, has been through pain, without her mother by her side. It was also clear that they were only supporting each other. “This envelope…” He brought out a white envelope with no name, and handed it to him. “This envelope… my daughter wants me to address this to you in her letter.”
Rivaille had it in his hand, and he simply stared at it.
“I did not attempt to open the letter… but… if this letter consisted of her feelings for you, please accept them. I can feel that what’s contained in this letter, are her personal feelings for you.”
Rivaille was simply silenced and stared at the letter, and simply looked at her father, as he decided to leave. What is contained in this letter anyways?
Days passed by... Rivaille was still occupied, whether he should, or should not open the letter...