Erwin Smith wasn’t able to sleep at all. He kept going through the plans for the mission, making sure everything was perfect. Well, as perfect as they can be in this case.
After a couple of failed attempts to rest, at 4 am he put his uniform on and headed for Zachary Dhalis’ quarters.
Erwin knocked on his door, perfectly aware of the early hour, but he just couldn’t stay still anymore. After a bit he heard shuffling and the Premier appeared in front of him.
- Erwin…I’m not surprised.
- I’m sorry for disturbing you.
- I wanted to talk with you anyway. Come in.
- Thank you.
They both sat down. Zachary Dhalis put his glasses on.
- You look terrible, Erwin. Have you slept at all?
- No, not really. I have way too many things on my mind.
- What exactly happened out there, Erwin?
- I am prepared to take the whole blame. I didn’t think the situation through. If I had considered all the possible risks…
- There isn’t a person out there, who can foretell all risks, Erwin. There’s always the slight chance of an unexpected occurrence. Don’t burden yourself too much.
The best course of action is to keep moving forward, and achieve your goal. Those, who died in battle, will be mourned and avenged.
They knew what they were doing, and gave their lives for the common cause. The least you can do is follow their example, and never look back.
- I never thought I would hear a speech like this from you. I feel very ashamed.
- Well, in that case don’t make me repeat it, and this time come back after a successful mission.
- Yes, you’re right. Thank you, Zachary. I apologize again for disturbing you.
- No need for apologies. It’s always a pleasure. You and me, we’re very alike. Good luck today, Erwin.
Erwin Smith pondered over Zachary Dhalis’ last words on the way back to his office. He was feeling rather down before, but now he had more faith in their success.
It is probably around 5 am when I start to wake up from what feels like a very long sleep. Funny, I don’t usually sleep this much.
Is it possible I overslept? But then I feel like my back is pressed against something hard. Wait a minute…I’m not in my bed…The memories from last night slowly make their way back to my brain.
The mission…The Female Titan…The Armored Titan…And my eyes fly open. I see Eren next to me. He’s still asleep, or unconscious. His arms and legs seem to be tied with ropes. I look around.
We are on the branch of a tall tree, and sleeping on another taller branch on our left are…
So my suspicions were correct, after all…Or maybe there’s a good explanation…
“Right, don’t be naïve, Desi.”
But…where is the Female Titan, or rather the person from inside the titan? I shuffle a bit, my body feels stiff and it hurts from being in this position for too long.
I look down from the branch. Bad idea. I have a fear of heights. I’m not scared when I use the 3D maneuver gear, but this is different. Where the hell are we anyway? Looks like a forest.
I’ve never been out here before, but it reminds me of the Forest of giant trees. I’ve heard quite a bit about it when I was…a child…
“Huh, was that a lost memory just now?”
I brush it off, and look up. The sun is about to rise soon, huh? Funny, it feels so peaceful, like a calm before the storm. Another thought causes a tingling sensation in my stomach.
Erwin…What I wouldn’t give to be by your side right now…
- Commander, we are prepared to leave at your command.
- Good. As I already explained, we won’t take part in any fights against titans we meet on the way, unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so.
Our main objective is to reach the Forest of giant trees as soon as possible, and rescue Eren and Desi. We won’t under any circumstances attempt to capture any of the two titan shifters.
Is that clear, HANJI?
- Y-yes, Erwin!
- As long as we can get Eren and Desi back, that is what matters. Since this mission is a complex one, we will use a new kind of approach. We will split into groups, so we’re not an easy target.
Everyone should have their signal flares ready. The different colored smokes will help us communicate with each other.
Red means you spotted a titan, black means the titan is an abnormal, purple is for an emergency, green is for a change in the direction of our formation, and yellow puts an end to our mission,
successful or not. Actually, no, forget about yellow, there is no place for failure. Today we will take back the soldiers that were taken from us, and return home!
- Yes, Sir!
- Hey, Erwin!
Erwin Smith turned around when the voice of his friend reached his ears.
- Nile? To what do I owe the pleasure?
- I heard about your mission, and decided to offer my assistance.
- How so?
- I am willing to lend you some of my soldiers. I assure you, the Military Police Brigade will be happy to support the Survey Corps as best as we can.
- How kind of you, Nile, but I don’t want to endanger any more people. There is a high possibility many soldiers won’t make it alive.
- I am aware of that, Erwin. I won’t take “No” for an answer. You will need as many people as possible.
Erwin Smith couldn’t hold back from smiling.
- Thank you, Nile. I appreciate your help.
After everything was explained to the new members, the Survey Corps and Military Police Brigade made their way outside of the walls,
and thus began what was bound to be one of the hardest missions for humanity so far.