Beyond and Within Chapter 1
You looked up in the air, watching figures zoom past your form. They then disappeared within a blink of an eye, leaving rustling leaves behind. The sound to zipping wires met your ears as you looked at the figures in awe. The figures were human of course. But how can they fly like that? you thought confusingly.
Interested, you began to run the way those people flew off to. The forest was your home, and you've been living there for as long as you can remember. Your house was just at the entrance of the forest. How you got here? You didn't know that either.
As you ran, your legs began to get tired. You haven't ran this long since the time you needed more food. They seemed to fly deep in the forest— a place you haven't really explored before. Eventually, the sound of talking met your ears. Diving behind a tree, you tried to see what they were doing.
They seemed to be setting up something around the circumference of the opening. A few of them were standing on trees, looking down at the ground while talking to their partners. I wonder what they're doing, you mused quietly. They seemed to be troubled about something.
"Kirstein, do you have gas left?" you heard a stern voice call out. You looked up as you peeked around the tree, and guessed that the voice came from the ebony haired man with the green cloak. Actually, all of them had green cloaks.
"No, sir! I used it all up during the Titan exercise earlier!" the boy with the ash-brown hair with a somewhat undercut.
"Negative! Empty like Jean's!" the brunette responded this time. The black haired man seemed dissatisfied. You swore that you heard him say that all of them were idiots.
"I ran out," a girl with shoulder-length black hair and a red scarf responded to the question.
"Tch. Much to my dismay, I have ran out as well."
You guessed that they were talking about the metal rectangular boxes they had at their side. There were small tanks on top of it, held in place with metal. From this distance, you couldn't make out anything else about the strange gear. And by their conversation, it sounded like they needed some more supplies for whatever makes it run.
Should I help them? you pondered. As you did, you didn't notice the rustling noise coming from behind you. As you slowly pulled away from your thoughts, you felt the presence behind you. Snapping your head in the direction, you found a girl with dark brown hair looking at you.
You saw one of her eyebrows raise in confusion. "Who are you?" The girl also seemed to be within the group that suddenly stopped in the clearing, for that she wore a similar uniform.
Oh god! How do I respond?! You, for once, have never talked to anyone for a while now. I mean, what kind of person lives out right in front of a forest? Your voice rasped for a bit, until you managed to get your vocal cords working easier. "I-I'm [First]," you managed to say.
"Y-Ymir, what are you doing?" a petite voice suddenly popped in. You turned your head slightly, and saw blonde emerge. A short girl with blonde hair appeared.
The person named Ymir turned towards the blonde, then wrapped her arm around her. Ymir nuzzled her face in the blonde's hair a little. "Nothing, my dear Krista!"
"Oh," Krista sounded in surprise. You felt her attention turn to you, and you began to be poked at by nervousness. Just who were these people? "Your not in our group are you?"
"No," you answered honestly. "I actually live here."
"You live here?" Ymir repeated, and you nodded. "In this place? It's like a shit hole here! Filled with Titans and stuff."
"Well, this shit hole is my home, mind you," you shot back. "By the way, what's a Titan?"
"You. . . don't know what a Titan is?" Ymir said in surprise. You rose an eyebrow, and nodded. The name sounded a bit weird. Titan. Ymir shook her head in disapproval. "A Titan is those giant-ass humans with no clothes. Got it?"
Giant humans? you thought in concentration. Now that you think about it, you saw a few giant people here and there. Their faces were horrific. Lips stretched back into a smile, showing the teeth that could rip you apart. So that's a Titan. "Oh, those things! Yeah, about that-"
As you were about to continue, a tired yet terrified male voice interrupted your small conversation. It sounded like a groan, coming above you. Looking up, Ymir and Krista did as well. There, you saw a boy hanging upside down by twin wires. His arms were dangling loosely, and his legs were pulled over his stomach. There was no hair hanging in front of his face, which was replaced with a buzz cut.
The boy chuckled nervously. "I can't help but interrupt, but can someone get me down from here?!"
You whistled a single note towards the problem. How were you going to get him down? Climbing my trees aren't my specialty. A dilemma was facing you straight in the face. We could cut the wires, but who would catch him? "We should cut the wires," you suggested. You didn't see anything else to get out of that position.
"Hell no!" Buzz Cut Head screamed. "I'm not risking getting my head cracked open!"
"I-I guess I'll have to get the Corporal," Krista murmured, barely audible. The blonde walked away in a quickly fashion, with Ymir closely behind.
Corporal? Isn't that a rank? You stared at the spot Ymir was in before looking back up at the dangling boy. A silence landed around the both of you, and you gulped awkwardly. You weren't a conversation starter. You didn't even have anyone to talk to for your whole life, except traveling people whom you allowed them to stay in your house for a pit stop.
But that doesn't happen often now does it?
You were clueless of the world farther away from to woods. You would linger around the large trees, and around your home. No farther than few meters away. You coughed. "So, erm. . . What's you name?" you began nervously.
"Connie. Connie Springer!"
You smiled with a small puff of air. His name fits him well. After all, he is in a tree. "Connie. That's a cool name." You were happy. Happy about seeing people within months. Hearing a voice like it was foreign. Seeing something with human skin, clothes, and could actually talk.
"Thanks," Connie murmured, and from what you can tell, shyly. "Y-yours?"
"Huh. You're not from the Walls, right? That's what you said earlier to Ymir," Connie pointed out. You nodded for his confirmation. "Don't Titans chase you and try to eat you?"
You didn't say anything. Eyes narrowed in thinking, you pondered if the Titans were actually near you before. Now that you think about it. . . "No, not really. I don't think I've seen one around." Did I say that right? You saw Connie's eyes widened a bit, and then they returned to normal.
"Lucky," he murmured. "At least you still have your innocence."
"What the fuck happened here?"
You turned around and saw the man with the black hair standing behind you. Beside him was the copper-blonde, the brunette, Krista, Ymir, and the black haired girl. Most of their eyes darted towards you, but the ebony haired man continued to stare up at Connie. "Care to explain, Cadet Springer?"
"S-sir!" Connie shouted, and you could hear a bit of trembling. He then saluted, right hand over his heart and left arm behind his back. "I happened to run out of gas, and then I crashed into a tree."
"No shit," the man murmured. He then turned towards the others. You just stood there, wondering what you could do. "If any of you can climb trees, go get Springer." His glare then moved towards you, and if felt as if his eyes are piercing holes in your skin. "And I'll speak to this. . . stranger."
You gulped, and watched as the black haired girl and the copper-blonde walk up to the tree. They put their hands in it, looking for any places that they could hold on to. The copper blonde found one, and began to climb up with ease.
"Look at me," you heard the same cold voice say. Turning your gaze towards the voice, you saw the same man looking at you with suspicion. "Who the fuck are you, and why the hell are you out here?"
You could feel yourself trembling slightly under his glare. So he's the corporal, you thought. "I-I'm [First] [Last]. I actually live here." You swore you saw his eyes widen slightly.
"Tell me, [First]," the man said, emphasizing on your name. "You have never seen, been, or lived in the Walls?"
Why does everyone keep mentioning the Walls? What kind of meaning is there to a wall? Besides protecting you from the weather and stuff. "No. Why would I live inside a wall, where I could get easily turned into dust?" What kind of idiot would live between layers of stone or wood?
"You live out here, in this forest, where Titans swarm every corner?"
"Pretty much. But, I'm not sure about the Titans. I don't see them around. In fact, I didn't see one at all."
"How stupid. I'm surprised a pint-sized person like you could survive out here for this long. Do your parents take care of you or some shit?" the man asked.
Did he just call me short? Well look here you idiot, you're clearly shorter than most of the people here right now. You wanted to say that, but you would probably get into some kind of fight, and you could tell that this man could kick your butt with ease. "I don't have a parents. . . Say, I told you my name. What's yours?"
"My name isn't information I give out to random shitheads." The man then seemed to consider it for a second, from what you saw. "But, my name is Levi. I won't repeat it. Got it memorized?"
Levi. It sounded cool. "Yeah. Nice to meet you, Levi."
"Sir!" Levi's head pulled up towards the kids up on the tree, and found that they have managed to untangle Connie. The copper-blonde continued to yell down. "What do we do now?"
"Climb down, idiots." The three of them than began to scale down the tree, Connie stumbling a bit. Levi's eyes scanned the scenery, and saw that most of the cadets were nearby. "Where is Cadet Hoover, Arlert, Braun, and Blouse?"
There's more?! you thought in surprise. There was already a huge group around you, consisting of boys and girls. You knew only a few of there names, but now you had to remember more?
"I saw them fly a little farther, sir," Connie spoke up as landed on his feet. He pointed towards your left. "They headed that way."
You heard Levi sigh in exasperation. "We'll just have to look for them then." He then turned towards you, a bit of demand on his face. "You know your way around the forest. Show us where they could of ended."
"How am I supposed to know where they landed?" you whispered under your breath. You then looked up at the Corporal, and the others. "Follow me. I'm not sure what their location is at the moment, but I have a feeling I know where they are." Walking off towards the left, you heard the shuffling feet of the large group.
"I'm so hungry," Sasha complained, clutching her stomach with a painful expression. Bertolt glimpsed at the big-eater, and sighed. Sasha and him were lost. They've been walking around for quite a while now, but they saw no sign of Reiner, Armin, or the rest of the group. "Bertolt, do you happen to have food with you?"
The giant shook his head. "No, I'm sorry." Bertolt's emerald eyes scanned his surroundings, but only resulted in seeing green and brown. He sighed in defeat. Where's Reiner? He felt his anxiety increasing every once in a while whenever Reiner wasn't around. Bertolt felt. . . unstable without his blonde friend nearby. "Did you see anyone yet, Sasha?"
"No," Sasha answered miserably, groaning right after. A loud growl emerged from her stomach, making Bertolt smile a little. "Besides, aren't you tall enough to see farther than me?" the big-eater pointed out.
"Oh, yeah." Bertolt forgot about that. His head turned left and then right, looking for any sign of life. Only the sound of rustling leaves and wind met his ears. Another growl interrupted his concentration, and a whimper followed.
"I can't handle it anymore!" Sasha screamed in agony, dropping onto her knees. She clutched her stomach in pain, howling. "I need food, Bertolt! FOOD! We haven't had any since we left for training!
"I didn't even get seconds for breakfast!"
"Do you know where we are, Armin?" Reiner asking the strategist. Armin shook his head, and looked around.
"I don't think we've been to this forest before. Squad Leader Hanji said that it was newly discovered, and there were signs of Titans in here." A small silence passed between them. As it did, Armin scanned around, looking for anything that showed indication of humans being around the area.
"That's just great," Reiner remarked sarcastically. "And we're separated from the rest of the group. It's a fine situation we're in right now."
"Actually," Armin began hesitantly, "I think everyone else is together, while we are the only one's separated."
Reiner sighed. He then glanced up at the sky, and saw a orange hue setting upon the light blue of the sky. The sunlight seeped through the leaves of the trees, making light spots on the dirt below. "The sun's setting," he informed Armin. "It's going to be dark soon."
Armin looked up and saw that he was right. The sun was setting, beginning to give off little light. How did they get in this situation again? Right. Empty tanks. "We should really find the others. Who know's what's out here?"
"Yeah." Reiner then turned towards Armin, with a small smirk on his face. "I know that this is off topic, but do you like anyone?" Armin stopped in his spot, and turned towards his companion, with a surprised face. He then turned away, with a slight blush.
"N-not really. Let's keep going."
"Oi, do you even know where you're going?"
You turned your head towards Levi, and saw that he had a scowl. You then looked back to the front, trying to ignore the stares burning onto your back. "No, I do not actually. I never been in this part of the forest before," you say nervously. What were they going to do now?
"Well, that's just great!" the copper-blonde, of whom you learned that his name was Jean, shouted in irritation. He threw his arms up. "We've been following this stranger that happens to live in a forest, but doesn't know the entire place?!" You felt a pang of guilt, but you tried to hide it.
"I've been doing my best, okay?" you say. "If I were any more different, I would of left you guys. So be happy you're not getting followed by those Titans or whatever." Jean grumbled behind you, but didn't say anything else. A unnoticeable triumphant smile played across your face.
"Now that I think about it," Mikasa, from what the black haired girl told you, said a little monotone. "We haven't seen Titans around lately."
"And Squad Leader Hanji told us that from her findings that there were Titans around," Eren added.
You looked up at the sky and saw that the sun was almost gone. Your surroundings was getting hard to see, and at this rate, each of you individuals will be bumping into trees and bushes. If it's getting dark, what will happen to the other people that are missing? Do they know how to survive out here?
"Should we continue searching?" you asked the group behind you. Turning around, you saw that a couple of them have surprised faces. "I mean, with this much of light, we'll be bumping into everything."
"B-but what about Armin, Bertolt, Reiner, and Sasha?" Krista asked worriedly. You shrugged, and then looked back up at the sky.
"They'll have to survive out there for a little while before we continue tomorrow," you answer. "They can sleep under the bushes or whatever."
"Who said that we were going to stop searching?" Levi piped up. You turned to him. "The Titans in this forest will get them."
"The Titans are less active at night," you informed him. They told you more about them as the rescue search was continuing a little earlier. "At least, that's what you told me. If we continue searching now, we'll get nowhere. We're going to be going in circles, and you'll be tired. Tired enough to sleep on the ground, vulnerable to the Titans in the morning.
"Where, at my house, you get protection by the upcoming weather, and get a nice place to sleep."
"The cadets. What will happen to them?" Levi questioned further. You sighed. How many times do you need to repeat yourself?
"They have to survive out there for a while, until we regain our energy. We'll get up early to find them," you growled. "And if you're really that worried, I'll leave a torch on outside my house so they can find us."
Levi gritted his teeth, musing about the idea. He then eventually gave in, and you felt triumphant inside you. "Fine. But if they are dead, there will be consequences. Am I clear?"
You gulped. From that tone of voice, you could tell that Levi as dead serious. "Crystal," you said in intimidation. Your voice didn't come out as strong as you wanted it to be. Instead, it came out in a slightly higher pitch with fear leaking in.
"Well? What are we waiting for? Hurry up."
"What is that?!" you screamed. The body that was looming over you made a shadow over you and the group. The giant's teeth was showing, with red marks on the whites. The skin was a slight tan, and the hair was a dirty blonde. Your eyes widened as it got closer, and you felt yourself slowing down without permission.
"Shut up! Don't look back! Just look at the front!" a yell came from beside you. Head turning, you saw a person with dark hair running beside you. His head turned slightly to look over his shoulder, and his eyes widened even more.
Your legs and arms were aching from the running. Sweat was easily felt everywhere, making your clothes stick to your skin. "I-It's catching up to us!" you scream in fear.
"Go faster then!"
You wanted to drop down onto the ground, and rest. But the thing behind you was giving you a chase, and refused to back down. You began to slow down, and the boy with the dark hair shouted at you to hurry. The world in your eyes began to tilt. Your throat was dry, and you gave out a small fit of coughs. "Go with out me!"
"I refuse! The rendezvous point is just up ahead! I won't let you die!"
Something hit against your foot, and your body toppled down to the floor. You yelped, and saw the dark haired boy turn back. He saw you on the ground, and began to run back to you. "[First]!"
"No!" you shouted in warning. "Don't you dare come any closer!"
Thundering footsteps began to get louder each second, and you could practically feel the presence of the thing a few feet away. The boy stopped once he heard your threatening voice. "But-"
"Come any closer and you'll die!"
Something wrapped around your torso, and began to lift you up in the air. You turned your head with eyes widened in fear, and saw giant orbs looking straight at you. You gulped, and began to thrash inside it's grip. It's other hand then began to moved towards you, inching closer to your head.
"Y-you're a Titan, r-right?" you stutter out with a false smile. "I can't believe I fell into the hands of your kind."
"[First]! H-hold on, I'm coming!"
You snapped your head back to the boy with a glare that carried fear along with it. "Can't you just listen to your friends for once?!" You saw him stop in his spot. "Go away! Far! All the way to the fucking safe point! LEAVE ME!"
Tears began to form in his eyes, but the boy quickly turned on his heels and began to run. You turned back to the Titan that was holding you captive.
To you, it looked like the Titan was smirking at you as the corner of it's lips pulled away and then opened entirely. Blood pumped through your veins, and you could feel the fingers of the Titan tightening. Your eyes widened, seeing what was about to happen. "No. No, no!"
Your entire body was covered within the shadow of the other hand, and it began to be brought down on you. It's going to kill me before it eats me! "I-I don't want to die!"
The skin of the fingers above you were practically touching your hair.
"I DON'T WANT TO DIE!"
Darkness consumed you.
You jolted up from your sleeping place. Sweat was like your second blanket, for that it covered your entire body. Your face felt a little sticky, and you realized that you've been crying in your sleep. Oh god. It was just a dream, you thought in relief. Your back was sore, and you then remembered that you slept on your table so that the others could sleep on the couch and your two beds.
Sliding off the table, with the casualty of creaking, you stretched your back. Little popping sounds were heard, and you felt a little more better. Sunlight wasn't even showing. Soft snores were heard around, and you saw that Ymir and Krista were sleeping on the couch.
It was kind of strange. You never woke up in the middle of the night. But you had a nightmare. I usually go to sleep right after I wake up though, you answered yourself. So what woke me up.
Soft thumps was heard upstairs, and was quickly trailing down the steps of the stairs. Your jumped slightly as the presence showed up, and saw that Jean was there with messier hair than usual. His eyes weren't easy to see in the dark, but you could see that he was surprised.
"Did you hear that?!" he asked loudly in a slightly timid tone once he noticed you were there.
A loud scream was heard, and it was kind of muffled. You turned your head with widened eyes, and looked out the window. Jean gulped loudly in surprised, and walked so that he was beside you.
"That," he said quietly.
"It came from outside," you whisper nervously. You looked at Jean, and he looked back at you. "Should we wake up the others?"
"No, let's just leave them and let them sleep," Jean said sarcastically. "Of course we're going to wake them up! Like hell we're going out there without the Corporal!"
"So, you're telling me that you woke me up just for this fucking loud scream you heard," Levi growled. A dark scowl was on his face, and irritation was radiating off of him. You saw circles under his eyes, and his eyebrows were furrowed in annoyance.
"P-pretty much," Jean said, feeling the Corporal's anger.
Ymir yawned, and put an arm around Krista. "It was probably an animal or something," Ymir grumbled tiredly. "I'm going back to sleep."
"It wasn't an animal," you announced suddenly. Eyes turned towards you, and you looked at each of them. You knew what it sounded like, and it wasn't like that. "It was a human. I'm positive. I would recognize a dying squeal of an animal anywhere. And they aren't that loud."
"Then what was it?" Eren questioned.
"A human. Most possibly one of your missing group members."
Levi's eyes widened slightly. "Shit," he swore. He then snapped his head towards the group, with a commanding look. "Cadet Jaeger, wake up Cadets Ymir and Lenz. Springer, stay. Cadets Ackerman and Kirstein, come with me."
"What about me?" you asked. You wanted to help. Yesterday, you did couldn't find their missing teammates. You were determined this time. Levi stopped in his place and glanced back at you.
"You're coming with me," Levi demanded. "You know this place, and you will lead us around."
"Sir!" Mikasa interjected right before the Corporal took a step out the door. "Do we have orders to take our Maneuver Gear with us?" Mikasa picked up the metal boxes and everything else mandatory for the Gear and held it up.
"Yes. Quickly, put on your harnesses and put on the gear." Levi ran out the door, with you behind them.
"Should we be leaving them behind?" you asked as you ran in front of Levi. He gave you a questioning look. The barely lush green around you slowly began to get pushed behind you as you took more steps as you ran. "I mean, what if they can't find us after they put that thing on?"
"They're already behind us."
That's when you heard the clanking of the metal, and your head swirled around to the sound. Indeed, there was Jean and Mikasa a few feet behind you, strapping on the gear while completing the wrapping of belts around their legs. It looks complicated, you thought. I wonder how they even remember to put it on?
"Do you still have flares?" Levi question, glancing behind.
"No, sir! We were instructed to leave it behind by Commander Smith for a few updates!" Jean answered.
Levi gave out a small 'tch' before looking back to the front. You looked at him for a moment, and realized that he was slightly limping. It was barely noticeable, but you could tell he was trying to hide it. "[First], where to we head next?" Levi's voice interrupted your thoughts.
Your head perked up. There were a few individual paths in front, and Levi was standing in front of the right pass. Which one did I take last time? you mused. You remember that they flew straight forward. "The middle one," you answer in conclusion. Running forward into the path, you could feel Mikasa, Levi, and Jean behind you.
The sun was slowly began to rise, and very little sunlight poured between the space of the leaves above. A bird chirped above you, and another chirp was heard in response.
That's when you noticed footprints on the ground. They were faint, not very deep, but still noticeable. You stopped running and looked down at them, trying to figure out which direction it went. "What are you doing?" Jean asked. "We don't have time to linger around!"
You gestured the small trio over, and they complied. "So, what are we supposed to be looking at?" the copper-blonde asked impatiently. You pointed to the prints below, and his eyes followed. One of Jean's eyebrows rose in confusion. "I don't see anything."
"They're footprints," Mikasa informed. She bent down and traced the outline with her finger, making the print easier to see. "And they lead into the bushes."
Levi walked over to the bushes the footprints lead to, and pushed the leaves out of the way to make a clearing. It was usually easy to push away, so someone must of went through here before. He walked through.
As you walked quickly, you began to hear murmurs from up ahead. Your eyes narrowed at where it came from.
"What are we going to do?" a girl's voice was heard. It sounded timid.
"If we move, it might find us." A male's voice this time, and it sounded anxious.
Mikasa seemed to notice them as well. Her eyes looked up in a recognizing way. "Sasha? Bertolt?" she called out.
"Oh my gosh, did you hear that?!"
"It was Mikasa."
Something dashed out of the bush a few feet in front of you, and quickly slammed into Mikasa. "Mikasa! I was so so scared! And hungry! I've been starving for so long! My stomach hurts!" It was a girl with brown hair, and was wearing the same uniform as Jean and them.
Another figure emerged from the bush, and he was taller than the rest of you guys together. He sported dark hair, and emerald eyes. "I-I'm sorry, Corporal!" he exclaimed. "We just ran out of gas a-and—"
"That doesn't matter. We all ran out of gas." Levi's eyes then trailed to the girl with brown hair, who you guessed was Sasha. "Care give a reason why you screamed, Cadet Blouse?"
"W-well. . ."
Sasha didn't have anytime to answer, for that something loud interrupted you.
"W-what was that?" you whisper anxiously. You looked around, looking for the source. A silence met your ears, and the tension in the air was thick.
"Oh shit," Levi muttered. His eyes narrowed at something farther away. "And we have no gas either. . . How the fuck are we supposed to fight that disgusting thing?"
"Dear god," Sasha whispered profusely.
Coldness ran your spine, and you shivered. Something big was coming. You saw that Levi's cadets were looking around anxiously, with widened eyes. Levi stood there with pursed lips. What are they scared about?
You turned around, and saw what they were quivering about. "W-what is that?!"
That face. . . It gave you a sickening smile, and it's body was looming over you. You never seen one, but you heard descriptions. But. . . that's not possible.
"I-It's a Titan!"
"Sir, our gas is gone!" Sasha screamed, grabbing the Titan's full attention. "What do we do?!"
"Shit. Fucking hell," Levi cursed. You turned to him, waiting for his actions. You didn't expect that this would happen. You haven't seen a Titan before. But, you felt like you have faced them so many times.
Where was the fear that you should of felt? It should be inside of you, heart pounding against your rib cage. Blood rushing, urging for you to run. Feet moving on it's own or screaming. Where is it?
"Run," Levi's voice demanded suddenly. Surprised eyes turned towards him. They had never heard Humanity's Greatest give the order to run, or retreat. "Our gear is useless against it without gas. We have to outrun it and go back to the house."
"Don't just stand there! Fucking run!"
Everyone obliged, rushing past you with the clangs of their gear. What am I doing? you thought in confusion. I-I can't move. . .
"[Name]!" Jean called out, stopping in his spot and looking back. "What the hell are you doing?! Do you want to become Titan food or not?!"
"I-I can't move!"
We're you encased in fear? You didn't hear Jean running back to you, but felt his hand placed on your wrist. He dragged you along as he ran, and you fumbled on your footsteps as he did.
I'm supposed to be leading them back to my house. How come I'm not doing so? Thoughts filled your mind as you looked back and forth from the Titan to the running figures in front. That thing. . . The Titan shouldn't be in this forest.
It shouldn't be here. Make it go away.
"LEAVE!" you screamed at the Titan. "Get out of the forest!"