Screams filled the air as the soldiers were plucked from trees and the ground, one by one. "There's too many of them!" A recruit screamed with panic. Hange's eyebrows drew even closer together, tighter than her grip on the horse reins, so tight that it worsened her headache.
She urgently threw her arm out and yelled on the top of her lungs: "Hit northwest! Regroup with Erwin's squad at the old grain mill!" Soldiers hurriedly changed directions in thick of the green, desperate to escape the giants.
Hange quickly pulled her gun, and a purple smoke flare, as they earlier had agreed should everything go south, the purple flare would be used to signal the other squads for support.
Hange covered her left ear and raised her right hand as high as possible before pulling the trigger, that created an enormous bang, and trail of smoke, far higher than any of the trees.
After quickly putting away the gun, she turned to Mike. "If anything happens to me, leave me! Don't try and save me, then you'll end up dying too-" Mike was about to interrupt her, but she wouldn't let him, "No, it's not up for discussion Mike, you need to listen!" Urgency clear in both voice and eyes. "Should anything happen to me, you have to be the one lead the recruits to the mill, and fire the flare! Otherwise Erwin and Levi won't know where to find you, got it?"
She saw him hesitate for a second, before his eyes steeled with determination, and gave her a sharp nod. Satisfied, Hange turned her focus back to the forest, trying to find the quickest route to the mill.
Avoiding the titans on horseback became more difficult, as more and more arrived.
"We are getting swarmed!!" A recruit yelled in panic. "Fuck" Hange muttered under her breath, as sweat rolled down her back. Eyes darting in every direction, trying desperately to avoid being sprung by a titan. A scream resounded in the forest, as yet another soldier was trapped by a gigantic hand, knowing the fate that awaited him.
While being distracted by the shriek of horror, Hange didn't notice the hand quickly approaching her.
Just as it was about to grab her, her focus snapped back, and she tried to evade the limb with partial success.
She managed to evade the grip of the monstrosity, but got knocked off of her horse.
'Shit, I need to get to the treetops, and if I manage to do that, I'll be lucky to make it all the way to the mill with the small amount of gas the canisters contain.'
"Well, at least Mike is keeping his promise" she huffed out as she scrambled to her feet, seeing Mike instantly take charge, though not with the lack of emotionally hurt.
He knew the chances of survival without a horse, far from backup, in the midst of a titan horde.
"Okay, gotta be quick, gotta be clever" Hange mumbled to herself, sprinting out of the way of a gigantic foot.
While evading hand after foot, she scanned her surroundings, trying to find a way to safety in the trees. 'Shit, I can't see any openings. Too many titans, all blocking my way, taking a chance here is too risky. The risk of being caught is bigger than the chance of me 'flying' safely'
She looked to a 10 meter class right behind her (which she in any other situation would have gushed over, it had everything! The big round tummy, a gruesome handsome smile, big strong killer hands, and so on, and so on), and got the most risky and brilliant idea of a lifetime.
"You can do this" she grunted, trying to hype herself.
With a yell, the scientist shot her grappling hooks through the legs of the beauty titan, into the trunk of a tree, only a few meters above the ground, resulting in more bruises as she skimmed the ground as she shot forward.Narrowly evading the titan's hand, she was more successful than her last attempt.
'Okay, so stick to the ground, yeah. It will be a bit more painful, inconvenient, bulky, difficult to maneuver, and wow this is a shitty way to travel with 3dmg.
But it will heighten my chances of escape if I stay close to the ground. I will only have to watch out for feet, and they can't pluck me out of the air'
She gritted her teeth as she continually glided over the ground, slashing a heel here, and cut of a foot there. She hated the thought, but she knew she had to go another direction than her squad, since they had left such a big scent trail, that would only continue with time, and therefore continue to attract the behemoths.
No, her chances of survival laid with getting off the track, get to a tree top a little ways away from the track: close enough that if the scouts were to use the same route home, but far enough that the titans that followed the scent trail wouldn't change their course for a nearby snack.
'Here goes nothing!'
The plan was a good one, but was getting increasingly harder as titans continually got lured from all around even as she got further and further away from the track, and her canisters lost more and more gas by the second.
'If I don't make a break for it soon, I won't have enough fuel to pull me to the top of the trees'
She was low on fuel, low on energy, in pain, and more frustrated than ever, seeing her chances of survival beginning to slip out of her grasp.
"If there's a god, of any kind, please let me make it" huffed in fear, desperation truly beginning to set in. Only mere seconds after the plea did her canisters sputter, and lost the ability to give the much needed agility and speed. 'Oh fuck you God.'
She landed hard on the ground, breaking at least a couple of bones, on rolled on the ground until she slammed into a tree trunk, knocking whatever sliver of breath she had left, out of her lungs.
She laid there for a only seconds, but it felt like hours, as her several body parts seared with pain. Even though Hange felt like she was going through hell, she could not only hear, but feel the vibration of the footsteps of the true get closer.
Broken and battered, bloody and wheezing, and in no condition to even move, she staggered to her feet. 'I will not go down without a fight!' she screamed in her head, as she saw several titans getting within grabbing distance. But even with the fire burning in her soul, the will to live shining in her eyes, and a battle screech on tongue, her body shook from the pain and bruising, causing to her lose the grip of one of her blades.
One of the faster titans crouched down, and reached out to grab her. Hange viscously slashed at the hand with her remaining blade, cutting of several fingers. It was a small victory, for only a few seconds later, another titan reaches for her.
Even though she fought with all that she had, it wasn't long before her slashing and hacking was unable to protect her any further.
As she was grabbed by a ten meter class she thought: 'this is it.'
With exhaustion and pain weighted her every limb, she loosened her grip on blade, her sight going blurry.
As the titan agonizingly slowly drew the fist closer, Hange absently noted the arrival of a new titan. It looked like an abnormal, physically but also because it looked like it was ready to pounce on the titan whom was now about to but her head off.
'Looks like there's about to be a food fight over me' she thought, as everything went black.