For what seemed like ages, in his time of being the carrier of the Beast Titan, Zeke had seen many horrible things. The wars he had fought in, the numerous innocent people he had murdered in the name of Marley, and the Eldians he had turned into Pure Titans, they all were just another piece of a bigger puzzle for his ultimate goal.
When he had arrived at Paradis, he was surprised to see how much the Eldians behind the Walls had advanced in terms of technology. Of course, they were less superior to Marley's, but still, being able to come up with a somewhat effective way to kill Titans was an impressive feat.
He had taught about what the Eldians could have done to improve their fighting chances, but never would have guessed they would take such drastic measures.
But now Zeke wasn't too sure what to think.
The person in front of him was unlike anything he had ever come across. The way he dressed, the way he talked, it all didn't add up. Was this man an Eldian, or was he something else? Either way, Zeke had lost somewhat of an advantage. His Titans were all dead, sprawled across destroyed buildings or scattered on the ground in front of him.
It somewhat angered him that the villagers he turned into Titans had been such a disappointment. This man had just singlehandedly taken out every single one of them.
And this really angered him.
"Saitama, was it?" Zeke asked the bald man who stood in front of him.
Zeke did not like this one bit. If war had taught him anything, it was to be on guard at all times. No matter how insignificant or weak an enemy seemed, if cornered, they are even more dangerous than one would think.
The aura this man gave off was menacing, and Zeke was finding it harder to keep his composure.
"Are you perhaps from outside these wretched Walls-ehhh?!"
Before he could finish his sentence, Zeke suddenly realized he was no longer taller than a building. Seconds passed and he realized that he was no longer in his Titan body; but had been forcefully removed from it. He felt a strong pair of hands tighten around the collar of his shirt, and realized he was now hovering several feet above the ground. Wide-eyed, he looked at his assailant.
How? Why? Why was he outside his Titan body?! Mere moments he still had the upper hand, and now he was at the mercy of this new arrival.
"You really need to shut up." Saitama said, his voice monotone, while his eyes pierced through Zeke's like a knife through butter. "I don't know what stunt you're pulling, but I've had it with you people running around and using this Titan mumbo jumbo to do whatever you want."
Zeke squirmed, trying to pry himself loose of this man's iron grip. "Let go of me, you imbecile! You don't know what you're up against!" He exclaimed. Reeling his arms back, he unleashed a barrage of punched onto Saitama's face. Each hit was meant to knock him out completely, but it just felt like he was punching solid bedrock.
"I'm taking you to people who know how to deal with guys like you. I'm just a delivery boy right now. And to be honest, I'm fine with that. As long as it means I don't have to deal with stuck-up assholes like you." He hunched Zeke over his shoulder and added. "Don't try anything funny. I know you people like to transform whenever you get the chance."
Zeke smirked slightly. If that were the case, then Saitama would know what comes next. Unlike Annie or Reiner, Zeke had experience with transforming more than once, or even twice in a short period of time.
Biting down on his hand, Zeke unleashed a large explosion, hoping to blow away his attacker and end his life in one swift move. He felt himself being wrapped in his Titan body, its nape slowly closing itself around him to completely seal him from any danger.
"I TOLD YOU; YOU DID NOT KNOW WHAT YOU WERE UP AGAINST!" Zeke screamed, his own voice resonating with that of his Beast Titan, booming through the air. This time he would make sure all that was left standing was him, and nothing else. And after he finished crushing this little obstacle, he would make sure he found Reiner, Annie and Berthold next.
"And I told you; you needed to shut up."
For a second time Zeke was forcefully removed from his Titan today. He could only watch helplessly as his Titan's body went limp and fell to the ground. He felt blood drip from his nose. Damnit! His transformation was almost complete, and yet here he was, still at the mercy of this bald freak!
Before Zeke could try to speak, or God forbit, transform a third time, he felt the palm of someone's hand collide with the back of his neck. Gasping loudly, he could only stare at his disintegrating Titan body as he lost consciousness and think: Just what kind of monster had Eldia acquired?
Saitama stared at the limp body of the man he had just knocked out. Maybe he should have just done that the first time? Then again, this guy didn't really give him any time to think because he had to yell right into his face. Letting out an audible sigh, he turned his head back at the body of the deceased Mike. Walking towards it, he carefully picked up Mike's body and slung it over his shoulder, while holding Zeke underneath his other arm.
"I'll make sure you get a proper burial. You deserve that much after all this crap."
And having said that, Saitama sped off, hoping he would soon reach the Walls again and be able to take a long, long nap.
As the Survey Corps rode forward towards Utgard Castle, the tensions everyone was feeling could not be described by mere words. After the grueling battle between Annie Leonhart and Eren Yeager had been put to an abrupt end by the arrival of the hero Saitama, everyone thought they would finally be able to lay low and take a break from this endless fighting. Unfortunately, fate had other things in store for them.
Erwin Smith knew his men were tense. After it had been revealed there was a shifter among the ranks of the Military Police, no one knew who could be trusted. Anyone could transform into a Titan and turn on them, crushing their dreams of ever setting foot in the outside world. He had hoped that by sending Saitama ahead that it would have eased the dread looming over his men. However, it seemed to be having the opposite effect. Having now been ordered to move forward without the aid of their strongest asset, the Scouts felt as if they had been forced to rely on their own strength once more.
But was this a bad thing? A month ago, they were still risking their lives every day, venturing into Titan infested lands, hoping to get a foothold and move forward one step at a time. Had Erwin's choice to recruit Saitama into the Survey Corps been a mistake? Had his men become reliant on this one man to take care of their every problem?
"Commander, something on your mind?"
The voice of Hanji Zoë interrupted his deep thoughts. Looking at her, he simply shook his head and replied. "Just thinking about all that has transpired these last couple of days. As it stands right now, humanity has gained an un-replaceable asset to its cause." He looked down at his hands, which were firmly grasped around the reins of his horse. "I feel, however, that I may have handled the situation wrong."
At hearing this, Hanji's ears perked. "Oh, how come, Commander?" She asked.
Erwin let out a soft sight and closed his eyes, humming to himself. "There is no need for us to head where Saitama is heading. We have seen what he is capable of, and everyone knows he is more than able to handle every threat thrown at him. Perhaps I was... wrong."
Hanji nodded slowly, beginning to understand what her Commander was trying to explain. "I must disagree." She replied, holing her chin in thought. "Even though Saitama is the best option to take, we should not solely rely on him. He has only been helping us for a good two weeks now. I feel like we have been too reliant on his ability's. We have battle hardened soldiers in our ranks that have risked their lives time and time again. To simply tell them to stand on the side lines while someone else fights for them all on his own, even though that person is capable of doing so... it just seems wrong."
Erwin opened his eyes and looked at her once more. Perhaps she was right. To take the chance of victory over the Titans from his men was a fate worse than death in many ways. The amount of fallen soldiers who risked their lives to secure a better tomorrow. Their sacrifices would be in vain if he just told them to lay down arms and await further orders-if those ever came.
"You are right on that part, Hanji. But I ask you this: If you were in my position, if you had the choice of ensuring the safety of all your men by having Saitama deal with every threat possible, considerably lowering the number of casualties, would you still order them to fight onward?" He asked, hoping that maybe someone else could change his perception on the current situation.
Humanity had long suffered behind the Walls. There would be more suffering should the Titan threat continue to exist. With Saitama on their side, they should be able to handle things quite easily.
Hanji frowned slightly, not expecting her Commander to ask these kinds of deep questions out of the blue. She, however, did think that he made a valid point. How would she have handled this situation if she were in command of the Survey Corps? Would she have made the same decisions Erwin had? Or would she have handled everything better? She really had no idea. Looking at the Commander, Hanji finally replied. "I think that's a very difficult question to answer. Truth be told, I can't really see myself as a high-ranking officer. Being a Squad Leader already has its ups and downs. Being responsible for twenty people tops is indeed a challenge but being in charge of the entire corps is something I can't really picture myself doing. So, to answer your question, Commander: perhaps. Perhaps I would have handled things differently. But as of right now, the decision to lead the Survey Corps is yours and yours alone."
"And I would like to keep it that way."
Both Hanji and Erwin turned their heads to the sudden voice of intrusion. The two watched as Levi caught up with them on horseback. He glanced at Hanji and spoke. "I would rather not be turned into a crazed scientist such as yourself. At least Erwin knows when it's best to kill Titans or capture them."
"Levi, are you still mad about that tiny incident we had a few months prior? I told you it was an honest mistake." Hanji replied, nudging the Captain.
"You almost cost me the live of one of my best men had I had intervened." Levi shot back, grabbing her by the end of her ponytail and pulling her face closer to his. "You can stay Squad Leader for as long as you like. But the position of Commander stays with Erwin for as long as he's breathing."
Erwin looked at his two second in commands and chuckled slightly to himself. Even though some days seemed grim, there still was time for some banter here and there. It's good to keep one's spirits up, for you never know when they might be broken down.
"And do tell me, Captain Levi, how would you have handled these last couple of days. I'm guessing you heard our entire conversation, so I'm curious to see your perspective." Hanji teased.
Levi 'tsk-ed' and replied. "I would have sent Saitama into Shiganshina already. The longer we wait, the more Titans that are going to shop up. Of course, I'd want a front row seat to the show."
Erwin had to admit that Levi, being as forward as he can be, did make a valid point. Perhaps it was time to switch things up and have Saitama do things his way. "Alright, get back into position and focus. We'll hopefully arrive at Utgard Castle before the next sunrise." He said, motioning for Levi to fall back further into the column of horseback riders.
If these past couple of days had taught the Commander anything, it's that you have to be weary at all times. Anyone of those soldiers at Utgard could be a Titan shifter just like Annie or Eren. Either one of them could end up an enemy or an ally. They just had to figure out which was who, and then see if they could be persuaded to join humanity in their struggle for survival.
"Elsa, darling, could you help me carry these vegetables inside?"
A young, timid looking blonde-haired girl looked up from her book which she was invested in and glanced at her mother. Sighing, she got off her front porch and walked towards her. "Coming, mother!" she replied, walking over to her.
Elsa was what you could call a regular girl. She did not have many friends ever since her family decided to move to a more secluded and rural area inside of Wall Rose. They had been living there for a good five years now. Her mother and father were honest people. They worked as farmers and always tried their best to support the family in any way they could. Her father would take their harvest into town and sell them, bringing in as much money as he could. The breach of Trost had put a dent into their sales. With the city being rebuild, markets were postponed, and clerks were told they had to go to another district to sell their wares.
Her father did not particularly like this idea. The horses they used for pulling their carriage were getting older every day and could not travel these far distances anymore. Trost was already a challenge for them. But now that they were forced to go somewhere else, her father had not been able to sell any of their wares for a good two weeks now. This had caused them many restless nights, dreading the day they were forced to move out because they could not pay for their home anymore.
Reaching her mother and taking the wooden crate filled with fresh vegetables out of her hands, she spoke. "Mother, I do not understand why we still have so many crops to harvest. Father has not been able to sell anything, and we have been forced to eat most of them ourselves. Wouldn't it be better to try and get people to go to our home instead?"
Her mother's soft smile wavered, and she replied. "I know that times have been hard, but we just have to hope Trost opens up soon. We can't expect people to make the journey your father makes every week just to buy their food. People are lazy and are always looking for the easiest option to get what they need. We just have to wait and be patient."
Else slowly nodded but cast her look to the ground. She felt the soft touch of her mother's hand stroke her head. "I just don't want to lose our home again."
"We won't, my dear. Your father will make sure of it."
Before Elsa could reply, her father stormed out of their house, gun at the ready, shocking both women.
"Honey, get Elsa inside right this instant! Something's coming." Her father quickly said, ushering them inside. "I don't know what it is, but it's fast."
Her father moved passed them and took aim at something. Elsa was being dragged inside by her arm, having dropped the crate of vegetables in the process. She took a glance behind her and noticed a cloud of dust moving towards them at unimaginable speed. She heard to cock of her father's musket and watched as he took aim. He took in a deep breath and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Elsa flinched when she heard the musket go off, the loud bang echoing through the area and sending her ears into a frenzy. She kept a straight face, but her eyes betrayed her true feelings. She was scared.
"Shit, it's still coming." She heard her father mutter annoyingly, having already begun to reload his weapon. "Get inside you two!" he yelled at his daughter and wife.
"Hey, did you just shoot at me?!"
Both women froze when they heard the unfamiliar voice yell at them. Both turned around and were shocked to see a man standing in front of their father and husband. He looked… interesting to say the least. His attire was something they had never seen before.
What was even more interesting was that he was carrying two people with him. And one of them was clearly not amongst the living anymore.
"Who are you?! What did you do to those people?!" Elsa heard father ask the stranger. She watched as the stranger put the dead person on the ground and replied.
"This man was killed just an hour ago by this man." The stranger replied, cocking his head to the other person that was hunched over his shoulder. "I'm trying to get back to the Survey Corps to turn him in and return this soldier back to his family."
Her father kept his rifle at his side, but slowly lowered his defense. "If that is indeed true… then your best bet is to head to Trost district and meet up with the military over there. We're just simple farmers, we can't really help with these kinds of thing." He looked at the body of the fallen soldier, his eyes softening ever so slightly. "But my oldest son was also part of the Survey Corps before he passed away outside of the Walls. They were never able to retrieve his body. So, the least we can do is take this burden off of your shoulders." He moved towards the body and added. "My wife worked as a doctor's assistant before we moved here. She can… clean the body and make it more presentable to the family. The poor boy is covered in blood. His family should not see him that way."
The stranger slowly nodded, replying. "That's really nice of you, sir. I hadn't really given it that much thought. I was just trying to get back to the Survey Corps."
The father looked at the stranger and spoke. "My name is Lutz. What is your name, stranger?"
"Oh, I'm Saitama." Saitama replied.
"You're the Titan Slayer everyone has been talking about!" Elsa suddenly cut in, wiggling herself out of her mother's grasp and sprinting towards Saitama. "They said that you're the reason Trost managed to survive the Titan attack! Is it really true you can defeat Titans with just one punch?" she asked excitingly, bouncing up and down. "I was reading the newspaper, and everyone was just going on and on about you. I got so exited after reading all of the stories that I really wanted to meet you for myself." She tentatively reached her hand out to him. "Could I… shake your hand, sir?"
Scratching his cheek, Saitama shrugged and grasped his gloved hand around hers. "Nice to meet you, young lady. Hope you weren't expecting something with a bit more of a 'wow' factor."
Elsa shook her head furiously as she shook his hand. "Nope, you're just as I imagined. Just a person who is trying his best to protect us. My name is Elsa, by the way. Nice to meet you too!"
"Well, I'll be damned." Lutz said, walking towards Saitama. "It is an honor to meet you, sir. Tell you what, take some of our vegetables with you for on your journey. I'd offer you one of our horses too but seeing as you just moved faster than any horse I have ever seen, it's kind pf pointless." He looked at the unconscious man on Saitama's shoulder and added. "Just put that murderer down for a few minutes and help my wife carry the body of that fallen soldier inside our shed. I'd do it myself, but my back isn't used to heavy lifting anymore. That's why I usually sell, and my wife and daughter take care of the harvest."
"I'm not sure if that's a good idea-."
"Nonsense." Lutz cut Saitama off, cocking his musket. "I might be a poor excuse for a farmer, but I am a pretty good shot. The moment this guy tries anything funny I'll make sure to restrain him. Besides, he seems to be completely knocked out, so he probably won't be getting up anytime soon."
Saitama was about to reply but was once again cut off. This time by Elsa. "My papa's really strong too! He'll watch over that bad man. Just let us help you take this load off of your back so we can at least say we did something to help the person that's been helping us."
Saitama stared at the young girl. He was about to tell her no and turn back, but something about her eyes just seemed to get to him. They were like damn puppy eyes! She was freaking using those puppy eyes to get him to falter and agree on this. Well, tough luck, kiddo, because that's not happening.
Saitama placed Zeke down on the ground and looked at Lutz. Lutz had already taken aim at Zeke and gave Saitama a reassuring nod. Saitama nodded back and walked towards Mike's body and carefully picked it up.
"Alright, let's get this guy to your shed." He spoke.
He watched as Elsa took point and headed towards the shed, her mother following behind her and trying to get her daughter to slow down. He had to admit that even though he was not expecting these people's help, it did felt kind of nice to be recognized and appreciated. The little girl seemed really exited to meet him. Heck, maybe after all this time he would finally receive some positive fan-mail for once!
He looked down at the body of Mike in his arms and thought back to the many people that had probably ended up as him. In his eyes Mike was one of the lucky ones. People usually get eaten by Titans and there's nothing left to bring back to their family. Even Lutz had said the same thing just mere moments ago. This world truly was a cruel place. If only he had gotten here sooner, things might have gone differently.
"We're here." Elsa's mother said, breaking Saitama out of his thought's. "Just place him down on that table over there and I will take care of the rest." She said, moving her hand over Mike's hair and stroking it softly. "You poor boy… so young. I hope you have found peace in the afterlife. You deserve that much."
Saitama nodded and placed Mike's body on the table. He stretched his back and said. "Alright, it's time for me to head back to the others. If you don't mind, I trust you to take care of him. Someone will come to pick him up, perhaps even me again. But right now, having to carry one body is more than enough."
Elsa's mother looked at him and smiled, nodding her head in approval. "You have nothing to worry about. I will make sure nothing happens to him."
"HEY, WHAT ARE YOU—NO, STOP IT! LET ME GO!"
A loud gunshot echoed through Saitama's ears. He glanced at Elsa and her mother. "Stay here." He moved with inhuman speed and had reached the front of the house in mere seconds. There he watched as Zeke had one of his arms around Lutz's neck, while the other hovered mere inched away from his mouth.
"Stay back, you!" Zeke threatened, placing his hand into his mouth. "Make one wrong move and I will transform. I might not be able to transform fully, but I will make sure this old geezer dies alongside me from the blast!"
Lutz grunted, a pained look in his eyes as he gasped for breath. "I'm sorry… he was so fast I didn't even see him… coming."
"Shut up! Now listen closely, I'm taking this old man over here for a little ride on that horse over there. If you follow me, I will kill him." Zeke said, glaring at Saitama. "I don't know where you got your powers from, but I will not let you intervene with my plan!" he started moving towards one of the horses near the stables and added. "Stay there! I'm watching you!"
Saitama stood there, watching intensely as Zeke started to make his way over to the horses. He could theoretically just take him out again, but now that he had Lutz as a hostage, this changed things. Truth be told, he should just karate chop him and get it over with. But Zeke had his hand in his mouth, and he remember that when Eren transformed, he always bit down on his hand too. So, if Saitama knocked him out, could Zeke still pierce his hand and transform? Was he even able to transform when he fell unconscious?
'All this thinking is really annoying.'
He just had to go for it. No second chances. He readied himself for a speedy take off and-.
"Please don't hurt my daddy!" the voice of Elsa echoed through his ears. He took a glance back and watched as Elsa ran towards her father. "He didn't do anything wrong. Please let him go!"
Saitama held out his arm and grabbed hold of the girl, pulling her back before she got too close to Zeke. She yelled at him to let her go, but he knew that if he did, Zeke would transform and kill not only father, but daughter as well.
"Listen, girl! If you want your daddy to live, just tell that bald asshole to stay back and to not follow me! I'll let your daddy go once I'm away far enough. Then he can just walk back home, and you'll be a happy family again." Zeke said to her, having finally reached the horse. He awkwardly made his way on the animal, one hand still in his mouth while the other lifted up Lutz on the horse.
Saitama had to admit he was surprised Zeke could even talk this clearly with his hand in his mouth, but maybe that was another Titan ability he just didn't know about. He watched as Zeke took off on the horse with Lutz. He let go of Elsa and was about to run after them but stopped when he felt a hand grasp around his.
"Please do as he says… daddy, I don't want to lose my daddy." Elsa sniffled, tears slowly falling for her eyes as she finally broke down and fell to her knees. "I just want my daddy back! So, I'm begging you, please stay until he can't see you anymore. Please stay until daddy gets back!"
Saitama clenched his fist as he got on to one of his knees and patted Elsa's head softly. "I won't let anything bad happed to your daddy. If you want me to stay here, then… I guess I'll just wait for a while. But I do have to catch that guy one way or another."
"Then wait until it gets dark or until daddy come back, just don't let him see you. When he sees you, he will kill daddy!" Elsa exclaimed, putting her arms around Saitama's waist and crying into his chest.
'Until it gets dark… that's actually a pretty good idea, kid.' Saitama thought to himself as he watched the silhouette of Zeke becoming smaller and smaller.
This situation had gotten seriously out of hand. Damnit all. This was the last time Saitama would ever listen to these people when he was carrying dangerous criminals with him.
"Elsa." Saitama said, getting the girl's attention. "Those vegetables you guys were talking about earlier are starting to sound like a pretty good idea now." He finished as the silence that followed was quickly overruled by the grumbling of his stomach.
What's up, people? Long time no update, I know. Slowly getting back into writing after a writer's block. I like how people still seem to think this story is dead, haha.
Well, Saitama has gotten himself into quite the predicament. I know that a lot of people in the comments are going to be like "Saitama could have easily saved Lutz and knock Zeke out." While that may be true, Saitama is still a stranger to the power of Titan shifters. And even though Saitama is dense, he is not a heartless being. He might not show emotions, but he is not blind or stupid when push comes to shove.
Also, the fight with Zeke might have short, but this just goes to show that when Saitama is serious, things will end rather quickly.
So, what will happen now, you ask? Well, we're getting closer and closet to the conclusion of the Utgard Castle arc, so we might even see an even bigger fight coming up real soon.
As always, please share your thoughts in the reviews. I will see you all in the next chapter!