A/N: Hi everyone! This is a fic I've been nursing for a long while - months, definitely. It was my opportunity to live out my survival wilderness dreams, as well as write some Dom/sub RivaMika lmaooo. Fair warning, this is a fairly dark fic that will have blood/violence/etc. I might bump the rating later! But, for now, enjoy :)
Mikasa had never been one to feel like a rabbit. Even when she was small, she felt too burdenless, too loved to begin to worry about herself or fret for her mother and father. And as she got older - read: as she followed in the burning footsteps of Eren Jaeger - she would, unquestioningly, consider herself one of the most lionhearted people she knew. She knew no fear, not really. She breathed bravery. Embodied unstoppable. Deep down, Mikasa harbored something powerful and fiercesome, innate in her design.
Now, in the fading light of the late afternoon, all of these things were slowly stripping away from her like old paint, leaving Mikasa Ackerman shaken and breathless like the little girl at her core.
Climbing all around her were pines and oaks and beeches too old to discern; homes and buildings that had been abandoned long ago, sheltered by possessive, verdant vines of curtain and honeysuckle. The ground under her boots, she could barely make out, used to be a well-traveled road, but years of disuse had lead to loamy soil and mulch and leaves to replace it. Her surroundings held the sound of wilderness, cackling, long songs of cicadas, birdsong poetry, skittish squirrels.
And the heavy, drawn out footsteps, the low moans of titans.
The sun was encroaching on the massive treeline now, but the lingering rays illuminated her in the middle of what seemed to have once been a boulevard, frozen like a spooked deer. She was a sight to behold, if anything - the red light shone starkly on her crow-coloured hair and made her crimson scarf burn brighter and her gear gleam scarlet, with her head tilted up towards the skies, hands hovering over her blades as she scanned for titans.
No, she thought mutedly. No. I must not die. I must not die.
But nothing in her moved, except her shuddering heart. Her bruises and cuts stung, and her fingers trembled like a wheat field in a breeze, and something in her thought it felt the burning sensation of eyes on her, but she could not move an inch.
She wondered if the rest of her troop was lost, too, or if they had the sense to make it out alive.
A smaller voice wondered, frightfully, if she was left alone.
Levi was, to start, unable to discern where or why things had gone wrong.
Formation had been accurate. He can remember with painful detail how relieved and impressed he had been with his legion for remaining in their appropriate positions, taking great care to stay where they were supposed to stay, and the stunning lack of back-talking.
Maybe that was why.
He swung his chin down and spat out a mouthful of blood with disgust. Currently, the sun was just on on the precipice of beginning to set, and he reckoned his squadron had about an hour of daylight left.
Huh... That includes my sorry ass, too, now doesn't it?
All around him were the remains of a time-worn village that had been abandoned God only knew how long ago, naturally, from titan intervention. It had been a failed attempt to establish a settlement, and Levi grimaced at a skull that he walked by, kicking it away with his heel. He didn't want to be reminded of how soon he might be joining the anonymous bones.
It was frustrating how much this place had thrived. To his left, he could see the remnants of what might have been a shopping area, with wooden signs creaking petulantly in the stale breeze, their ridges covered in moss. He was circled by the sounds of birds and trees and wilderness, and it was rich and looming, and he felt the faraway tremors of titans on the move and how they moved away from him. Probably towards his troop.
They wouldn't die. They were capable. Erwin was still with them, right? He could scarcely remember what happened, and the blow he'd taken to the head ached as he strained. They had just made it through a clearing, and then, bodies towered over them. They hadn't seen that they were on the edge of an ancient forest, one that was probably more primordial than he'd cared to fathom, and a fist came down to his left the size of a wagon, and he instinctively jerked forward and off of his whinnying horse, swinging himself as he launched his hooks into one of the giant trees.
There was immediate yelling, scattering, screaming. Things he was used to. Things he had to simultaneously tune out and monitor. The mass of titans they confronted were nearly entirely 15-meter classes or higher; bulky, ugly things with bulbous eyes that shone with the purest compulsion to butcher his comrades. He remembered scanning the mile of forest and field around him, soaking in the situation and the layout of the land as swiftly as possible, and then bellowing orders - he couldn't remember what he said, only that his command echoed around the wood and birds scattered and other officers began repeating his words to the lower-ranks. He felt, instinctually, after so many years, the chaos become a little more contained.
Then he moved.
Three of the beasts were coming at him, one of them already reaching a massive and grubby hand in his current tree, as if trying to pick him like an apple, and Levi bulleted past it, his maneuver gear whistling as his wires tried to keep up with his pace. He ricocheted around the back of the creature's tender neck, moved in close, and took out a fatal hunk of flesh; a clean-cut, no blood shed, lasting only a blink.
Everywhere now was the cacophony of gas tanks steaming and wires whirring and attempted communication. Out of the corner of his eye, a bushy-eyebrowed titan snapped at one of his soldiers', narrowly missing his ankle. His momentum carried him, and seconds later, he was on the monster's spine, raking his blades through it and slaying it as well.
He felt, then, something behind him, huge and breathing heavy. A trivial matter. His boot shifted, and moved without having to think, as usual - everything moved around him like a solar system, mapped out perfectly in his head, and then a pair of wire sung by his cheek, nearly piercing his jaw, and he had to duck hastily to avoid the girl who came screaming by. He knew immediately it was a piss-frightened newbie, and her interference was all the time the titan needed.
He heard a woman's voice scream his name with panic. Levi's legs were bent, about to sail away to a safer perch, and his head snapped just in time to see a 20-meter class bringing down its fist right over his head.
Reflex kicked in. The breath was nearly knocked out of him as the wires yanked him away from the corpse, but the titan just managed to knick him, just enough to make his course misalign and send him hurtling against a branch, where he slammed his head against the evergreen's trunk.
Levi was momentarily gone. The world was black, but his nails dug into the bark, and he clung to consciousness. He was dizzy, felt the hot drip of blood careening down the side of his face, and was unimaginably pissed. His legs wobbled, and he had to squint, left eye hindered by the blood flow, and he painfully counted an unpleasant amount of living titans compared to dead ones, and then growled out orders to every soldier he saw to get back into formation and retreat.
He would clean up the mess, he remembered thinking. He saw Hanji slitting through the irises of one with shouted apologies, and Petra sliding in behind it to cut its neck. He saw Mike handling a particularly burly 18-meter class, and three more people coming to help him.
He remembered the noise slowly die down as he focused on one particularly vicious one that was hounding after one of his terrified newbies, maybe the one who had nearly killed him, saw a telltale flash of red that he knew was Ackerman's security blanket, and in seconds, felled the thing. A minute later, he turned to see said newbie being swallowed whole by another titan, and Ackerman immediately slashing through its nape. For half of a second, she looked up and met his gaze, her eyes distant and guarded as always. But, he was her Corporal - he nodded in approval, which she returned, and then she was rocketing away.
And then he was alone.
When Levi finally stopped, he saw nothing but bodies, none of them breathing, few of them in one piece.
He never found his troop.