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On The Bench (AOT/DxD)

Dragon of the Walls
"Get up!"

Issei blinked stupidly.


Where was he again?

He hurt. Every part of him hurt.

His head and heart especially.

The noise hit him.

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!'"

Oh. Right.

The Young Devil championship final match against Sairaorg's Peerage.


"Ise!" Asia cried out in worry from the podium from which the Gremory Team watched the battle.

Issei rose to his feet.

Sairaorg Bael laid him out with another punch to his temple.

The Underworld swam.

The enormous stadium, filled with tens of thousands of people who had flocked to the floating island in the Agares territory, became just another blur.

"Get up!"

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"


"Issei," Buchou yelled, just as worried as Asia. "We can switch!"

The red claws dug into the dirt of the arena.

Issei got to his feet again.

A knee caught him in the chin, and he fell.

Blurry eyes stared out at the crowd.

"Get up!"

Oh, look. There were the kids. Right there in the front rows.

Issei didn't know how much he had made from the Oppai Dragon show, but it should be a lot since Ravel had been able to buy the entire first three rows of the enormous arena when he had asked her to.

Apparently, he had bought tickets for tens of thousands of children on a whim.

He hoped they had enjoyed the match.

Issei was just a bit sad that he was disappointing all his fans.

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"


"Issei." Kiba was not yelling. He was not worried, though his fists were clenched. "You can win."

The damn handsome.

The golden lion in front of Issei looked down on him.

"Get up!" Sairaorg Bael commanded again.

Issei got up.

He blocked the first punch.

The second took him in his solar plexus, and he fell.

It was like the Boosted Gear's Scale Mail did nothing to stop the pain. Nor did his Rook physiology.

Issei wanted to complain that Touki was busted.

And Senjutsu was stronger than this? Eren would...



[Issei, you can do it!]


Issei didn't answer Ddraig. He didn't respond to the spirits of the previous Boosted Gear wielders.

Issei got up.

A golden fist filled his vision.

The fist of an Ultimate Class devil, wrapped in the gold armour of the Longinus Regulus Nemea and glowing with the hazy Ki of Sairaorg's Touki, crashed into Issei's skull with enough power to shatter the arena.

Issei fell.

"Get up!" Sairaorg once again demanded. "Where's your heart? Where's your fighting spirit? Get up!"

Once again, he didn't deliver the final blow to his downed opponent.

Issei didn't know why.

Sairaorg and his Pawn, the manifested Longinus he now wore as armour, were all that remained of his Peerage.

All the others had lost in this round-robin style Rating game. Even the Longinus was no longer counted as a fighter, reduced to a tool for the purposes of the remainder of the match.

Sairaorg was all that was left of his Peerage. All their dreams for success, goals, and ambitions, and the effort they had put in to reach the finals, were on his shoulders.

The Gremory Peerage, in contrast, still had quite a few members left.

Koneko had only fought once before losing. Rossweiss, being worth two Pawns, had fought three times before being taken out. Xenovia had only fought twice, but her sacrifice in the second bout allowed Kiba to eke out his win.

Akeno and Gasper had achieved mutual destruction with Sairaorg's Queen and Bishop, taking out the most significant threat except for Sairaorg himself.

Asia had not fought yet, but her most significant use was healing the combatants between bouts. Neither had Rias, the points not lining up enough for the King to step on the field.

Looking from the outside, the Gremory should have no problem winning. Even if Issei lost, the others should be able to fight the enemy King, steadily wearing him down until they won.

Except Sairaorg was a monster.

Kiba was fast enough to keep up with him, but even his Balance Breaker couldn't pierce Touki and Regulus Nemea together. It would take one hit to knock the Knight from the fight.

Rias might be able to beat Sairaorg if she landed a clean hit, but he'd destroy her faster than she could use her power.

So all that stood between Sairaorg Bael and victory in the Young Devil Tournament was Issei Hyoudou.

And the Red Dragon Emperor was losing. Badly.

Yet the black sheep of the Bael family would not finish him off.

So much was riding on him.

Sairaorg's dreams to become a Satan. His Peerage's dreams as Exiled Devils.

This was their chance to prove to the entire Underworld that it had been wrong about them. To shun them to the corner of society just because of their birth.

Yet he would not finish Issei while he was down.


'Would you die for me?'


'Akeno. Do it.'


'You can call me Senpai if you want.'

Why why why why why why why why!

Issei was nothing! A nobody! A regular teenage boy! A pervert!

Why did this keep happening?

Because he was the Red Dragon Emperor? Because he was too trusting? Because he was naive?

The Underworld. The kids. The Boosted Gear Senpais. Sairaorg. Rossweiss. Ravel. Buchou. Akeno. Koneko. Ddraig. Gasper. Kiba. Irina. Xenovia. Asia.

They were all watching him. All eyes were on Issei Hyoudou.

... Maybe, somewhere out there, in a secret lair of the Chaos Brigade, Senpai was watching him too.

They were watching him fall.

"Get up!" Sairaorg roared.


Why did they expect so much from him?

"Are you just going to lie there?"

He had no tragic backstory, no great heritage, or secret power.

"Are you just going to let me win?"

Issei Hyoudou had been a regular teenage boy until six months ago.

He had grown up with regular parents in a regular town with regular problems. He was average in intelligence, average in looks, average in strength, and average in every other way.

"I wanted to fight the Red Dragon Emperor!"


...Someone else should have been the Red Dragon Emperor.

"I wanted to win against the greatest young devils the Underworld has ever seen!"

'Would you die for me?'

...Someone less naive.



'Akeno. Do it.'

...Someone who wouldn't be a burden.


'You can call me Senpai if you want.'

...Someone who could understand what Senpai had been trying to entrust to Issei Hyoudou.


The Boosting stopped.

The arena quieted.

"...Hey," Issei rasped from the ground.

He couldn't see out of his helmet, so he retracted it.

The entire Underworld saw the tears as they splattered the arena floor.

Issei looked at the armoured man standing over him.

Maybe it was the concussion, but Issei could almost imagine the eyes were rimmed in Shifter marks.

"Am I an idiot?"

"You are."

"Am I weak?"

"You are."

"Am I... this pathetic?"

"You are."

"Then why?" Issei cried. His voice cracked. "Why do you believe in me?"

He hadn't earned any of this trust, these hopes.

He didn't deserve this pain, these betrayals.

It all weighed down on Issei's back like a boulder.

Whether Issei trusted them. Die for me. Or they trusted him. Call me Senpai. It didn't matter.

Issei couldn't carry all these dreams.

He wasn't strong enough. He hadn't gone through a tenth of what his comrades had gone through. He hadn't suffered even a hundredth of what his Senpai had.

"Ask them," Sairaorg gestured to the stands.


Ah, right.

Everyone was watching him cry.

Ravel had even gotten the children to start singing to cheer him on in the silence.


It was such a silly song. Ddraig usually got depressed whenever he heard it.

But they looked so happy when they sang it that Issei couldn't stop himself from joining in when he did the meet and greet the other day.

Even when his heart hurt, Issei didn't want to disappoint those children's wide eyes, full of hope.

Not a single child in the crowd looked worried. They sang and cheered and clapped.

Issei had been losing. Badly.

Yet they still had complete confidence that Oppai Dragon would win.

...Eren wanted to destroy these smiles?

Issei refused to believe it.


"It doesn't matter if you are an idiot. If you are weak and pathetic," Sairaorg said with a nod toward the singing crowd. "Not to them. Idiots like us, we can't disappoint those counting on us, even if we don't deserve it."

Somewhere, Sairaorg's Peerage and the part of the Gremory Group that had lost were probably watching this as well.

"If you don't have power, don't you have your body?"


"If you are lacking something, cover the thing you are lacking with something else! It can be brute strength, it can be intelligence, it can be speed, so make up for it! You will definitely win one day if you don't give up!"


Right. Buchou had told Issei those were the words Sairaorg's mother told him before she fell ill.

The words that had turned a boy born with weak demonic power and without the Power of Destruction into the monster Issei was losing against.


Sairaorg hadn't been born with a Sacred Gear.

Yet he had made himself so strong that a Longinus decided to work for him of its own free will.

Sairaorg had been exiled with no political power at all.

Yet a group of promising young devils had tied their dreams to his, and he had reclaimed his position as heir with his fists.


Issei Hyoudou was not Sairaorg Bael.

He could not tear his way to the peak of the Underworld on effort alone.


Issei Hyoudou was not Eren Yeager. He could not keep advancing through all the pain without ever giving up.


Issei Hyoudou was a weak, pathetic idiot of a devil.


Issei Hyoudou was a boy betrayed by his first girlfriend, held hostage against his first crush, and left behind by the first person to ever support his dream.


Issei Hyoudou did not understand why people trusted him or why he could still trust people after everything.

But Issei Hyoudou wanted to.

So he started chanting.

I, who is about to awaken,

[Are you sure about this?] Ddraig asked worriedly.

They had thought up a way to use the power of Juggernaut Drive without going on a rampage, but there was no way to tell the after-effects.

It could shorten Issei's lifespan again.

For a tournament match, for a win that mattered more to Sairaorg than to Issei, he shouldn't take the risk.

Issei continued the chant.

Am the Red Dragon Emperor who has discarded the principles of domination.

[Alright. I am with you, Partner.]

I shall defend the road of righteousness by having infinite hopes and dreams.

[We'll trust you, junior.] The senpais said.

I shall become the Wall of the Crimson Dragon.

Issei rose to his feet on unsteady legs as he chanted.

And I promise you all!

Sairaorg backed up, grinning like a lion, holding his fists ready.

I shall protect the future which shines in true crimson light!

Issei was not a Roaring Lion fighting to right injustices.

Issei was not an Attacking Titan forever chasing freedom.

[Crimson World Wall]

Issei Hyoudou was a Defending Dragon guarding his hoard of hopes and dreams.

The wings of the Red Dragon Emperor grew and grew and grew and grew.

In a flash of crimson light, Sairaorg Bael stood opposite a wall of red scales.

It stretched from one side of the arena to the other and all the way up to the ceiling of the wards, dividing it in half.

Sairaorg grinned as he stared at the red wall that separated him from the Gremory podium and half the audience.

He was absolutely certain that if Issei wished, he could make this wall even bigger.

A crimson wall that could stretch from one end of the horizon to the other.

A quick glance to one of the dozen screens along the side he could see told the Bael that those behind Issei could see through the wall to see him, while he couldn't see them.

The Crimson Wall glowed with red power, and Sairaorg knew it was Boosting, growing stronger and more durable with every passing second.

He just had one question as he stared at the uniform red scales.

"How are you going to fight me, Issei Hyoudou?"

Right in front of Sairaorg, in a part of the wall that looked and felt the same as every other part, one of the scales retracted like a helmet to show Issei's face.

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"I am not as strong as you," Issei admitted, face still streaked with drying tears.

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"I am not as fast as you."

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"But I am the Rook of Rias Gremory. I am the Oppai Dragon!"

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"Nobody will ever get by me!"

"Is this how you plan to win?"

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"You either break my Crimson Great Wall, or it will grow stronger until it reaches the limit of the Red Dragon Emperor. Even I don't know how strong that is."

"Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon! Oppai Dragon!"

"Then all that power will go to those I am protecting!"

There it was.

Issei's answer.

The logical endpoint of the 'Transfer' ability all Boosted Gear holders had, yet had never fully developed. Even those who used it on their summons or familiars would never consider dedicating the entirety of the Gear to others.

It was simultaneously the least and greatest example of what it meant to be a 'Dragon' in this world.

He didn't know why people were entrusting their hopes and dreams to him, and he didn't know what he had done to deserve it.

But even if he didn't know why, even if Issei Hyoudou was an idiot, he would still defend those treasures he had been entrusted with.

Until those dreams were ready to advance on their own, Issei would be the wall to protect them.

To become the Harem King. To have friends and go to school. To have children. To open a bakery. To one day forgive themselves. To be free. To not let the children down.

They weren't ready yet, the world still wasn't peaceful enough for these dreams, so Issei would endure until it was.

It was the complete opposite of Juggernaut Drive, the draconic urge to rage and destroy a cruel world that hurt and killed.

It was the draconic urge to protect and nurture a more beautiful world.

If Sairaorg wanted to win, he would need to tear down this wall before it grew so strong that all its power could be transferred.

It was against the match rules for the observers to help the combatants, but there was no rule against the combatants helping the observers while they were still fighting.

Passing along equipment before you lose, relaying information, and even healing were all tacitly approved in the rules for this type of match for one simple reason.

It led to a better show.

So, either Sairaorg tore down the wall, or he'd lose to Issei's replacement.

The Ultimate Devil grinned and punched.

The punch contained everything he had, all his Touki, everything Regulus could put in, and more.

Right now was when the wall was at its weakest. It was his best shot.

So Sairaorg gave the punch every ounce of effort he could.

The gold fist crashed into a red gauntlet, and the arena shook.

Sairaorg's grin grew, and in a flash, he was at the side of the arena and kicking the World Wall where it met the barrier.

An armoured boot crashed right back.

Sairaorg flew over the wall, punching and kicking with enough force to destroy mountains as he tried to tear down the barricade.

Every punch, every kick, every blow, physical or magical, was met with one of the exact same force.

Red scales cracked.

Golden armour chipped.

Sairaorg could not see Issei directly, but looking at the screen from the other side showed that Issei was just as bruised and battered as the Bael was becoming. He was part of the armour and appeared wherever a new blow landed to counterattack with the same force.

Sairaorg laughed.

He had been slightly worried that the match wouldn't be interesting to watch if it was just him beating on a wall, but he was wrong. The crowd was absolutely frantic as they watched this slugging match between two Ultimate devils who were not even in their thirties.

Looking at his bloody knuckles, the King laughed harder.

Issei was an absolute madman.

He had given up all attacking ability, all mobility, everything to build this wall. All the blows Sairaorg received matched his own perfectly. Issei was only using precisely the right force to make sure every blow he received, he dealt right back.

All that extra power that wasn't used to fight back was going into making the Crimson Wall even stronger.

It was such a passive way to fight. It went against everything Sairaorg had ever heard of.

If he never attacked Issei, the Bael wouldn't get hurt at all.

Issei had given up on intelligence, strength, and speed. He had turned this into a battle of endurance, forcing his opponent to play the game he, as a Rook, as a Dragon, was best at.

Right away, Sairaorg knew the weaknesses of this technique.

It locked Issei down, meaning his opponent could just leave, and Issei could do nothing.

It wore on Issei. Every part of the wall was part of him, so he felt every punch. Since he wasn't trying to defeat the enemy attacking him, just matching them, if they could deal more damage than Issei could handle all at once, Issei would crumble.

Finally, it was utterly useless if nobody he could trust was inside the wall. There was no reason to use the technique if no one was there to pass on the power or no one with suitable abilities.

In fact, using Crimson World Wall at the wrong time could be fatal.

Issei wasn't just visible from the inside; he was vulnerable. All his defence was focused outward, and an attack from within would destroy him.

More than that, Issei's only chance at winning was either hoping his opponent couldn't take as much damage as they dealt or that someone he was protecting would be able to finish them off with his stored power.

Crimson World Wall was a technique that gave up everything to protect those inside.

And in return, it became something nobody in this world could ever ignore.

Every second, the wall grew stronger exponentially.

Every second, the Red Dragon Emperor's power returned closer and closer to the peak of what the Divine Dragon had ever achieved when it was alive.

And that power could be given to anyone.

The second Crimson World Wall was born, Issei Hyoudou was strong enough to form a faction rivalling any other.

The Heavenly Duo had been terrible, yes, but they had been alone. They hoarded all that power for themselves.

And they had died for it.

Sairaorg could imagine the possibilities.

With the power of the Y Ddraig Goch, Rias would be stronger than her brother by orders of magnitude.

Who knew the limits to Asia's healing when she had the power of the Red Dragon Emperor?

Would the Valkyrie be as strong as Odin?

...If Sairaorg was the one protected by that wall, would he be the greatest Bael to ever exist? Would he eclipse even the Great King, Zekram Bael?

Sairaorg wanted to know what that kind of power felt like, what it meant to be on par with one of the world's Top Ten existences. What it meant to be a Dragon so strong that all three factions had to pause the Great War and work together to take you down.

If even Issei's opponent felt this way, Sairaorg could only imagine what the audience felt.

Sairaorg would lose this match, and all he could do was laugh.

Issei Hyoudou had just changed the world and he didn't even realize it.

Attack the Crimson World Wall, and if you can't get rid of it fast enough, Issei will just give his power to your perfect counter.

By simply existing, Issei had become one of the greatest threats this world had ever seen.

Usually, the Heavenly Duo were targets of fear. It wasn't rare for a wielder of Boosted Gear or Divine Divinding to be hunted and killed because the world powers didn't want crazy idiots with that kind of power.

But there was one surefire way to beat Crimson World Wall. Since it only focused on defence, so long as you never tried attacking Issei or those he protected, he'd never bring it out.

It was a power designed solely for peace.

It was a technique that no other Dragon Emperor, full of arrogance and pride, intoxicated by their own power and relying only on themselves, would never have come up with.

One ideally suited to a world simultaneously on the brink of either peace or war.

A simple message to the world.

Do not touch the treasures of the red dragon, for they are jealously guarded.

Sairaorg's fighting spirit rose through the roof.

This was why he hadn't finished Issei off.

Victory was great.

A good battle was even better.

But the future of the Underworld, the one Sairaorg wanted to build, was not something he needed to win in a tournament.

Sairaorg Bael would become a Satan when the Underworld decided he had to be one.

Winning a championship by beating up those weaker than him would not help that dream.

Issei always failed to realize that he helped others with their dreams just by chasing his own.

But Sairoarg would not give up just because he had achieved his goal.

No, he was going fight and fight and fight.

The Golden Lion roared.

The Red Dragon endured.

The battle, lasting far longer than anyone had expected, was a pulse-pounding, as exciting as any Rating Game anyone had ever seen.

Sairaorg threw everything he had at the wall, and Issei endured it all.

Clever tricks and esoteric powers had their place, but it wasn't here.

It was a battle of wills.

If Issei faltered, it was Sairaorg's victory.

But he didn't.

Issei endured.

Through every blow, every punch and kick thrown by an Ultimate class devil and backed by a Longinus, Issei endured.

Until the end.

The match ended when a bloody, battered, and grinning Sairaorg watched crimson scales dissolve and retract into the collapsed Rook's body.

[Wall Fall]

Issei lay unconscious on the ground, yet every child in the arena continued to chant for their hero with broad smiles.

"I hope you don't mind if we start right away," Sairaorg's final opponent said with a proud smile at the unconscious boy teleported away. "That was the deal when you equipped that armour. If you want to win, you must beat us all, one at a time, without rest. I hope you don't think we are taking advantage."

Before he had failed under his own wounds and injuries, Issei had not transferred his power to Rias Gremory.

It was not the holder of the Power of Destruction of the Bael, King of a Peerage, and cousin to Sairaorg that stepped onto the arena.

"It's fine," Sairaorg readied himself, grinning a bloody smile. "I still have some fight left in me."

Some might see a political statement in Issei's choice. Either a revolt against his King, a symbol that Sairaorg shouldn't fall to the power he had never wielded or something of the sort.

Issei Hyoudou was too much of an idiot to think of anything like that.

He'd simply given his power to the friend who had been with him since day one on his journey as a new devil. To the one who would be fast enough to defeat Sairaorg without fear of being knocked out first.

"I am proud that I can fight you with my comrades."

Yuuto Kiba was all alone, yet there was no mistaking what he meant as he levelled Purgatorio toward Sairaorg Bael, glowing with the power of the Red Dragon Emperor.

The tens of thousands of copies of the thin black and white blade also levelled themselves against the Golden Lion.

When Issei awoke, he'd bitterly lament that the finale of the Rating Game ended up being a match between two Damn Handsomes.

Still... he was just as happy as everyone else with their victory.

He might still not know how to feel about Eren, but Issei had come to a decision.

Issei would not let his Senpai crush the dreams of those devil children.

Issei would be a wall to protect all those smiles, even if it was from Eren Yeager.

Issei might not understand what Eren had been trying to tell them, but he'd hold on until he could.

... It was for the best Issei came to that conviction when he did.

A day after their victory in the Young Devil Tournament, the massive Hyoudou residence received some uninvited guests.

Vali's team had defected from Eren and the Chaos Brigade and had come with dire warnings.

They brought Ophis, the Ouroboros Dragon, and a half-catatonic dhampir as proof of their intentions and words.


Because Kuroka never attacked the gathering, Issei didn't rescue Koneko, and she didn't become infatuated. She did not start repairing his life force from Juggernaut Drive. Because the Hero Faction never attacked Kyoto, Issei never developed Cardinal Crimson Promotion to fight Cao Cao. Because he is a Rook and not a Pawn, he can't be promoted to a Knight or Queen to fight Sairaorg on even footing.

From a single pebble, a landslide that becomes a wall.

I'll meet you all next week on the bench.
Issei: "I will become a Wall! That'll stop Eren!"

Great chapter! This is the first time that Issei in any story I have read has truly felt like a protagonist which is a bit funny as he isn't one in this story. I really enjoy seeing him find his principles and something to strive for, the Crimson World Wall was a fantastic statement for Issei as a character and also very unique. See you Friday on the bench.
Night Party
"The ground is rumbling, rumbling, rumbling, rumbling," Valeria Tepes babbled. "He's coming. He's coming. They're burning. They're dying. It's the end of the world. Flat flat flat. Burned and crushed and smushed and smashed till the whole world is flat. I can feel the rumbling. It hurts. It hurts."

"Valerie," Gasper whispered, eyes wide in fear and panic as he held the blonde's hands tightly.

"What is wrong with her," Rias demanded, looking around the room to find the cause of her Bishop's distress.

Akeno didn't have those answers, but she turned her attention from the rambling young woman to the other intruders in the Hyoudou Residence.

Team Vali had shown up in the middle of the night at their doorstep and the Gremory Group had prepared for battle.

Only to be surprised to find they came in peace, with two... guests.

One was the dhampir girl laid out on the couch, staring at the ceiling with vacant eyes and mumbling semi-coherently.

The other was the second strongest being in existence... the little girl dressed like a gothic Lolita poking Issei in the arm.

"Ddraig," Ophis, the Ouroboros Dragon, commanded in her deadpan voice. "Turn into a wall. Help Eren beat up Baka Red."

Issei looked decidedly uncomfortable, looking around for rescue from the tiny terror.

Weirdly enough, despite having the power to vaporize the planet with a thought, the little girl was being ignored by the entirety of Vali's team as they looked at the blonde woman on the couch with grim faces.

"Valeria Tepes is the current possessor of the Sephirot Grail," Vali introduced with a nod toward the girl. "Specifically, she has a subspecies Balance Breaker that gave her three Grails. Two of which were extracted by the Hero Faction."

Everyone sucked in a breath.

Unlike the other eleven Longinus, the Sephirot Grail was a support Gear, similar to Asia's Twilight Healing.

As one of the two holy artifacts, it was quite plainly capable of performing miracles: healing, bringing the dead back to life, removing racial weaknesses, like devils' aversion to Light, and even manipulating the soul.

What it lacked in direct combat power, it made up for in utility, making it one of the most desired Longinus for almost any faction, devils included.

Any Balance Breaker was inherently powerful, but a subspecies producing three Grails instead of just one was positively broken, even by Longinus standards.

It was Koneko who asked the question, though.

"... How is she still alive?"

"The Hero Faction healed her," Bikou, the descendant of Sun Wukon, nodded toward where Arthur and Le Fay Pendragon stood.

Right beside them was a miniature golem and a MUCH smaller form of Fenrir. The mythical wolf was currently napping while a few familiars, like Rassei the Spirit Dragon, sniffed it curiously.

Akeno really wanted Yuuto to get back with Mikasa and Azazel as soon as possible. Even with the entirety of the Occult Research here, they were severely outgunned if it came to a fight.

"The Tepes faction was using her to remove their weaknesses," Arthur explained. "Thanks to her, they were winning the civil war against the Carmilla faction. Once they had an extractor they could use, the Hero Faction attacked the vampires, killed all their leaders, and took her. We helped."

"You did this to her," Gasper accused, far angrier than Akeno had ever seen him.

"Hey, hey, she came willingly," Bikou shook his head, holding up his hands defensively. "Cao Cao promised to reunite her with you when we were done with what we needed, and since the vamps weren't exactly treating her great, she decided to trust us."

"It's true," Le Fay nodded eagerly. "I was there for the extraction. After we removed two of the grails, she went into a coma, but we were able to heal her with the power of one of them. She's been a bit weak and confused since then, but the Hero Faction was treating her really well. I checked on her occasionally to make sure since they don't really like other races. They would give them back once they were done with the Grail."

"Then how did this happen," Akeno asked, pointing to the young woman whose head had fallen to the side. She was facing Gasper without seeing him, and drool fell from her open mouth.

Asia, who had unsuccessfully tried to heal the woman, looked near to tears.

Akeno had never met the comatose dhampir, but Gasper cared about her, so the whole Gremory Group cared.

"A few days ago," Vali explained as he leaned against the wall. "Georg, the vice leader of the Hero Faction, dropped her off with us. They said they couldn't care for her now that Eren was back. She was already like this by then. We've been caring for her, trying to discover why she's like... this."

"Val's Gear lets her see things we can't," Le Fay explained, looking genuinely distressed at the sight of the dhampir's empty eyes. "The dead. The nature of the world. Even hints of the future, though that is more about the dead whispering secret plans of others than actual foresight. We were working together on a spell that would let her control her power better because it could be overwhelming at times. But never like this."

"So you brought her here?" Rias asked.

"Only three things are consistent in her ramblings," Vali said plainly. "The end of the world. The dead. And Eren. Eren won't meet us. So we came to find Kuroka since she knows him best. Before we help with his plan, we need to know if he's planning on betraying us."

"You think she learned something of Eren's plan, and he did something to her," Akeno guessed with a frown.

Vali just shrugged.

"Then what about her?" Rias asked, nodding toward the Goth Loli, who had decided that poking Issei wasn't enough and had graduated to holding his left arm out and speaking to it directly.

Ophis, in her current form as a little girl, was much shorter than Issei. While she was holding his arm and speaking into the wrist, Issei was forced to bend down at an awkward angle to maintain his balance.

Though Xenoiva had tried to aid him, no matter how much they struggled, they could not pry his arm from the Dragon God's tiny hands.

"We've been Ophis' babysitters for years. Eren's plan is counting on Ophis," Vali shrugged again. "Until we know what set Valerie off, I decided it was best we keep her out of his reach."

"You kidnapped the Orouboros Dragon!?" Rossweiss hissed in disbelief.

"I, wanted to see Ddraig," Ophis said simply. "New power. Strong. Useful against Baka Red."

"We watched your Rating Game match against the Bael," Le Fay told Issei excitedly, practically buzzing with awe. "You were so cool!"

"Erm, thanks," Issei said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head with his free arm in embarrassment.

"Ophis only listens to Eren and sometimes Kuroka," Arthur elaborated. "We couldn't control her if we wanted to. But she saw the Crimson World Wall and wanted to recruit Issei. We took the opportunity to... convince her to spend some time trying. She's technically not supposed to leave the base."

"I, snuck out," Ophis said proudly. "I, will convince Ddraig. Watch."

Ophis then reached into a small portal and, almost reverently, pulled out a small bag.

A plastic bag filled with cookies.

With great reluctance, almost as if parting with her treasure, Ophis held one of the cookies to Issei's mouth.


Issei looked around wildly, fearing some sort of trap or poison in the cookies.

Most just watched, entirely baffled by the turn of events, yet unable to stop the second most powerful being in existence.

Except for Vali's team. They just looked at Issei in... jealousy?

Akeno watched in confusion as Issei took a tentative bite of the offered cookie.

Issei's eyes widened, and tears started to stream from his eyes.

"Ise!" Asia cried, lunging at her boyfriend. Her hands glowed green as she held them to his head to try and fix whatever had just happened.

"Shou... Gud!" Issei cried through a mouthful of cookie.

"I, give cookie if Ddraig helps Eren," Ophis said, quickly stashing the rest of the cookies back in the portal. "One now. One after we beat Baka Red."

Akeno liked to think she had a considerable tolerance for the absurdity the world threw at her. She was usually more likely to roll with the punches as they came along, using what she could to tease others and have a good time.

But even she had her limits.

Watching the Orouboros Dragon promise the Red Dragon Emperor a cookie if he helped kill Great Red, while a dhampir prophesied the end of the world from the couch, was well over that limit.


That was all Akeno could say, unable to formulate even the basics of thought.

"Those cookies are... how Eren controls Ophis for the most part," Vali said with a grimace.

"What." Rias repeated her Queen's word/question/denial of reality.

"What happens when the greatest sage the world has ever seen uses Senjutsu to grow every single ingredient and then bakes the perfect cookie?" Bikou's smile was also slightly pained but also filled with a deep yearning. "It becomes something not even a Dragon God can ignore... or at least Ophis. She has a sweet tooth."

"Eren... can cook?"

Somehow, that was the thing that stood out most to Akeno.

Maybe she was just trying to keep her sanity.

"Not really," Arthur said with a shrug. "Cookies are the only thing he actually practiced, and even then, he just cheats with his power. Everything else he cooks is just decent."

"We were his test subjects when we were younger," Le Fay said, watching Issei savour the last bit of the cookie with jealousy. "I haven't had one of his cookies in years. When he left, he secretly gave enough to Ophis to last until he returned, but she won't share."

"My, cookies."

"Apart from cookies, he can cook decently," Bikou shrugged. "He's really good at keeping things clean and organized, though. When we were training with him, he made sure there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere in the house."

"Eren... cleans?" Rias asked in wonder.

"Eren's housewife power is uselessly high," Le Fay nodded seriously. "Or did you think Kuroka was the one who kept things in order in that relationship?"

She was dreaming, Akeno rationalized. She had to be dreaming.

Or the world had gone completely mad, and the leader of the Chaos Brigade was secretly a housewife, and they treated their pillar of support, the entity around which they had based the entire organization, like some sort of pet... or mascot.

"Senpai," Issei cried, holding his fist dramatically in the air. "You could have made these? I'll never forgive you!"

Definitely dreaming.

"He also used bananas to bribe her," Vali said, seeming to enjoy his 'rival's' despair. "Baring sweets, they're her favourite food. They don't last well, even Senjutsu bananas. But they are amazing."

"I, want a banana," Ophis seemed to mutter to herself. Then her eyes widened, and she put a tiny fist into a tiny palm. "Eren is back. He can give me more bananas."

"Shit!" Bikou swore as a black portal appeared in the living room.

"Ophis!" Vali hurried to say before the tiny girl could step through. "Food or silence?"

Ophis froze mid-stride through the portal.

She looked at Vali, head tilted, and Akeno could almost imagine the '?' above her head.

"Food? Or silence?" Ophis muttered to herself, seeming to struggle with this, the greatest conundrum of her life.

The portal remained there, but Ophis was too lost in thought to pay attention to it as Vali used his Sacred Gear to Divide it into nothing.

"She can take us to Eren," Rias said with narrowed eyes.

"Sure," Bikou said genially. "If you want to die. We're not really suicidal, though, so we'll stay here."

"We can't really control Ophis," Arthur shrugged. "We are just distracting her. To keep her from him for any length of time, we need Kuroka."

"Nyaa? Someone call me?" Kuroka called as she sauntered into the room. She didn't look surprised at the new guests as she casually raised a hand to wave at them. "Hey guys."

"Kuroka," Le Fay greeted excitedly. "How are you doing? They haven't tortured you for information yet, have they?"

"Nyahahahaha," Kuroka laughed easily, ruffling the younger girl's hair. "I'd like to see them try."

"Why are you not with Aunty," Rias asked suspiciously.

"Mikasa is with her King and niece, so I am keeping an eye on her," Azazel said affably as he also joined them. "We were having a drink and a round of Mario Cart together when she sensed our guests. Since nobody was screaming, we finished our game."

With the arrival of the leader of the fallen angels, a new tension filled the room.

Vali looked at the man he had betrayed, and Azazel met the eyes of the son who had betrayed him.

Then, as one, both looked away.

"Well," Azazel cleared his throat and gave Ophis as winning a smile as he could. "I must say, I like this new form much better than your last. The 'Overpowered Old Man' trope is overused, and little girls are much creepier.

Ophis ignored him, still lost in a mental debate over whether the silence of absolute nonexistence was worth giving up her favourite foods.

"Nyahahahaha," Kuroka laughed at the fallen. "Talking about little girls. You can be pretty creepy yourself, Azazel. Stay away from Shirone, or we're going to have problems."

"She's older than this planet," Azazel rolled his eyes playfully, more than willing to trade bants with the cat. "Besides, didn't you run away with a nine-year-old?"

All eyes fell on Kuroka as they realized that, yes, she had fallen in love with someone much younger than her.

"Hey!" Kuroka said defensively under everyone's accusing eyes. Particularly Koneko's. "We didn't get together till he was much older. Besides, Eren reincarnated, so he was twenty-eight, not nine. I'm the victim here. I was young. Naive. Fell for an older man's charm. Who can blame me?"

"In a younger man's body," Azazel needled.

"Ehem," Kuroka fake coughed and clearly tried to change the subject. "So... Vali. Why are you guys here?"

Vali just gestured to the girl lying on the couch, who had been mumbling this entire time.

"Those devils. They did it. The Rumbling. Rumbling. Rumbling. We should have killed them. Elidans should die. DIE!diediedie. Exterminate them all. Whywhywhywhywhywhy. Mom. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. He's coming. Kill them all. The ground is shaking. The sea is boiling. Run runrunrunrun. You can't outrun the walls. We're all going to die."

While Azazel spent a few moments examining Valerie with spells and tools, and Le Fay explained her situation to the world's foremost expert on Sacred Gears, Kuroka froze as soon as she heard the word 'Rumbling.'

Everyone in the park when Mikasa confronted her had also heard the term from the Pawn, but nobody had any context.

Except for Koneko, who had been entirely silent this entire time, sitting in one of the chairs and staring straight at the dhampir.

"This isn't Valerie," Azazel eventually said, standing up. "Valerie is unconscious. The destabilization from the initial extraction of two-thirds of her Gear should have left her completely comatose. That the Hero Faction managed to wake her up is almost a miracle. After that, I imagine she was kept in a pocket dimension of some sort? Maybe in the Gap? Or one of Dimension Lost's creations?"

"Georg makes the pocket worlds they hide in," Arthur nodded.

"She was essentially cut off from the world, which is a significant source of the Grail's connection to the old man's System," Azazel explained. "That's the only reason she could last as long as she did. Then something happened that overwhelmed her, and she went right back into that coma. Only now, her Gear is self-driving itself, not unlike what Regulus Nemea can do. Too many of the dead are trying to work through her to accomplish anything but... this."

"Is there any way to fix her," Gasper asked hopefully. He had retreated to his box but had placed it beside the couch so his hand could poke out and hold Valerie's.

"Get her back her Gear," Azazel said simply. "That should fix the root cause of the issue. One of the Grails would help get her on her feet, but she really should have the full Gear, subspecies or not."

"And if we do that, she can tell us what she saw?" Vali asked as he drummed his fingers in thought.

"You really should have listened to me when I taught you about Sacred Gears," Azazel lectured his wayward ward. "The only thing she could have seen was the dead... Or their imprints, at least. That is how the Grail works as a Gear. It is a direct connection to the old man's System. Its main ability is the Miracles the System can generate, but because it connects to it, it can also see the imprints of the dead. Not their actual souls, the Old Man wouldn't have created something like that, but rather their impression of the world. So Valerie saw something, conveyed through those imprints, that overwhelmed her."

"It's Karmic threads, not actual souls," Bikou said with a snap of his fingers. "That's what was bugging me. She saw Hades and didn't have anywhere near this reaction, and he's surrounded by the dead."

Akeno tuned out the conversation, slid up next to her King, and whispered in her ear.

"Do you know what's taking Yuuto so long?"

"I sent him to get Aunty at Sona's house," Rias whispered back. "If they were with Lady Leviathan, they might be in the Underworld. If he can't find them there, he should be back soon. I'll send a message to my family to pass it along to Aunty."

"...Don't let Aunty know," Koneko said quietly, having also approached and tugged on Rias' sleeve.

Akeno looked at the smaller girl in surprise, but Koneko was looking toward her older sister.

Kuroka had not taken her eyes off Valerie since first hearing her babbling.

"Why not," Rias asked her Rook gently. "She is the only one who knows whatever the Rumbling is. Maybe this is a clue to finding and stopping Eren."

"Rumbling... Bad for Aunty," Koneko shook her head. "She doesn't want to talk about it."

"We know that, Koneko," Akeno lowered herself to eye level with the younger girl. "But it's clearly important. We need to know if it has something to do with Eren's plan."

"Us, yes," Koneko nodded, gesturing toward Vali's team with her chin. "Them... no. She tells us, we tell them. I don't want to hurt Aunty."

Akeno could understand that point. Mikasa clearly didn't want to talk about it, and forcing her to do so to a bunch of strangers would not go well. Still...

"Do you know what 'The Rumbling' is," Akeno asked quietly.

It wasn't unlike Koneko to care for someone and leave them alone if they didn't want to be interrogated, but she rarely spoke up with a plan, usually content to go along with others.

"Overheard Aunty talking with Nee-san," Koneko whispered back with a jerk of her head towards Kuroka. "The Rumbling... It's how Eren died."

Both Rias and Akeno took in a sharp breath.

Eren had died in his world. They had all known it. But nobody had asked either Eren or Mikasa about it for obvious reasons. Nobody would want to talk about their own death, after all.

But there were hints that it hadn't been because of his disease.

Akeno remembered that small gathering on the bench over half a year ago to celebrate a year with Eren and Koneko's high school debut.

Four years. Eren had said he wanted four years with the woman he loved. Knowing what they did now, they could guess he was talking about Mikasa.

But he hadn't gotten it.

Instead, he left to start a plan that pitted him against his friends.

Instead of leading to his exile to the other side of the world from his mercenary group, they now knew he had been talking about his own death.

"...I'll try and get Sona alone," Rias eventually said, crafting the spell through her familiar to send to the Underworld.

In the end, it didn't matter.

Only a minute later, Yuuto teleported into the living room.

He was accompanied by both Sona Sitri, Mikasa Ackerman, and Serafall Leviathan.

"Halt evil-doers!" The Satan said as she appeared in a twinkling of stars to level her pink wand at Vali's face. "Miracle Girl Levi-tan is here to stop your dastardly schemes!"

The light show that accompanied her was, unironically, a marvellous feat of magical control, seeing as it only targeted her despite using the same teleportation circle as the other three.

Vali grinned as the wings of Divine Dividing burst from his back.

A shame he wouldn't get the fight he wanted.

"Levi-tan!" Le Fay cheered as she dashed toward the Satan. "Can I have an autograph?"

"A fan!" Serafall gasped joyfully, pulling a marker from between her breasts to quickly sign to the Miracle Girl Levi-tan collector edition.

(Seasons 1 through 13, with bonus scenes and a collectible wand that could shoot tiny ice blasts. Get yours now and enter a contest to tour the studio and meet Serafall Leviathan, Miracle Girl Levi-tan!)

Serafall looked at Vali again, re-evaluating him. "I guess you can't all be evil. Very well, I shall not erase you!"

Vali, if anything, looked disappointed.

"And is it true there is a special crossover show with Oppai Dragon coming?" Le Fay asked eagerly as she stowed her show away in a magical pocket.

Unlike her King, Mikasa was less able to roll with the punches. When she heard the White Dragon Emperor team had shown up at the Hyoudou residence, she had come ready for a fight.

While Serafall took up the spotlight, Mikasa quickly placed herself between Rias, Koneko, Akeno and the rest of the room.

She had done it so smoothly and quickly while subtly carrying Sona that Akeno wondered if she and Leviathan had planned this ahead of time or if they were just in sync.

"What's the situation," Sona asked quietly while her aunt surveyed the room.

"They aren't hostile so far," Rias whispered back. "They want information from Kuroka. About Eren."

"What about Eren?" Mikasa asked out of the side of her mouth as she judged how best to defend both the children behind her and reach Issei, Xenovia, Asia, and Irina on the other side of the room.

It didn't help that Rossweiss had been pulled into a discussion with Azazel and Bikou about the various afterlives and whether a Karmic imprint actually counted as a soul, or part of one, or was just an echo of what a person once was, or an echo of an 'event,' rather than a person.

"It doesn't matter," Kuroka said, hurrying to their side. She glared at Mikasa. "You need to leave. Now."

Mikasa narrowed her eyes, completely unwilling to budge.

"Let Leviathan protect them," Kuroka hissed. "Or don't you trust your King?"


"Aunty," Koneko said, looking up at the woman pleadingly. "Please-"

Valerie, who had been mumbling about running and dying, returned to what seemed to be the chorus of her ramblings.

"Rumbling rumbling rumbling. The ground's shaking. He's coming."

Mikasa whipped her eyes from Koneko's pleading gaze to the young woman lying on the couch behind them. The former soldier had noted her before but judged her not to be an immediate threat based on Gasper's close proximity and her state of weakness.

Now, Mikasa stepped around Akeno to get a better look at the blonde dhampir.

The movement drew the eyes of the insensate woman, who had been staring at where Gasper's hand grasped hers.

Valerie Tepes locked eyes with Mikasa Ackerman.

And screamed.


The enormous living room of the Hyoudou residence exploded into motion as everyone readied themselves for a fight at the sudden outburst of sound.

Except for Ophis. She was still lost in thought.

Right away, the factions formed.

In one corner, Vali's team had bunched up with Vali, Arthur, and a growling Fenrir facing the room, while Bikou stayed next to Le Fay behind them, and Gogmagog was behind them.

Rossweiss erected a magical sigil in another corner to defend Issei, Asia, Xenovia, Irina, and Ravel while Azazel held a light spear. Though the Governor of the fallen kept his easy smile, his eyes were sharp.

Despite the amicable talks and jokes, it was clear that nobody had forgotten that they were still enemies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those closest to the screaming dhampir were the least affected. They still tensed at the suddenness of the sound, and Serafall Leviathan was suddenly right between her Pawn and sister, but they had seen the cause and were more aware that there hadn't actually been an attack.

It didn't mean they were calm, though.

"He's here he's here he's here," Valerie screamed in a panic as she threw herself over the couch and away from Mikasa. "It's the Attack Titan! Run run. He's going to kill us all! It's the Rumbling! Those devils did -"

Valerie froze, mouth wide, in a scream that wouldn't leave her lips and eyes filled with fear.

Gasper had activated his Sacred Gear, Forbidden Balor View, to freeze his childhood friend in time.

But no eyes were on him.

All eyes were on Mikasa, who looked at the frozen woman with narrowed eyes.

"Who is she?" Mikasa asked, a sword having appeared in her hand with the dhampir's scream.

Akeno was not dumb. She could put two and two together.

She refused to.

"Valerie Tepes." Azazel was the one who answered, while everyone else looked at Mikasa with despair, hostility, or confusion. "She's this generation's holder of the Sephiroth Grail."

No, Akeno refused to acknowledge what her mind was telling her was the truth.

It couldn't be right.

That was... too cruel.

"And?" Mikasa asked, looking around the room. Her eyes flitted over Sona's, who looked horrified, and Serafall's, who looked near tears, before settling on Vali's.

Even for Eren...

Even for Mikasa...

Akeno couldn't, wouldn't, believe it.

"She can see the dead," Vali said with a glare. Mikasa froze. "We think seeing Eren did this to her. So why did she react like that to you?"

Akeno could see the moment Mikasa shut down.

She didn't faint, but every outward display of emotion ceased as she went rigid, and her face froze over into that wall of emptiness.

She looked like Eren had when they first met.

"Wait," Issei suddenly said, looking around the room in confusion. "You think Ackerman-sensei killed Eren? No way. They-"

"I did."

Issei's words died on his lips.

"I killed him," Mikasa said woodenly, her eyes landing on Kuroka.

The Black Cat bit her lip but didn't look surprised.

"Aunty..." Sona said softly, but Mikasa continued, almost as if she couldn't stop herself.

"We all fought him, but I was the one that cut off his head. And I'll do it again. If you are on his side, you are an enemy. If you get in my way, I will kill you too."

"I want to see you try!" Vali said with gritted teeth, stepping forward.

"Remember where you are, White Dragon Emperor," Serafall said with an icy gaze, all playfulness was gone from the Satan.

Though she was still dressed as a Magical Girl, everyone felt the temperature drop precipitously in the room.

"...Why?" Akeno asked, unable to stop herself even when it looked like a fight would break out. "Why did you do it?"

It was too cruel to Eren. It was too cruel to Mikasa.

"It was the only way to stop The Rumbling."

Mikasa said it so easily, so simply, that Akeno snapped.

"What is The Rumbling!?"

What was so bad that forced Mikasa to do... that to both Eren and herself?

"It was Eren's plan," Kuroka said, not taking her eyes off Mikasa. "A coordinated attack on all the other nations of the world with the Yeagersists, wasn't it? A way to ensure a war between Eldia and everyone else like he's doing with the Brigade."

"It was his revenge, wasn't it," Yuuto asked sadly. "And he didn't care who got in the way. Except for you. He planned to get his revenge and still have you fight him so you wouldn't be implicated, right?"

Mikasa looked at the Knight, the faintest hint of surprise showing through the mask of emptiness.

"You are right and wrong. It was Eren's plan, but I chose to fight him. I chose to kill him. My choice and my sin. That is why I will do it again."

"Why," Rias pleaded. "Why kill him? If you could kill him, you could have captured him, right? Eren loves you. You love him. Why couldn't you save him? Why couldn't you be happy?"

"Eren..." Mikasa trailed off, clearly unsure of what to say.

Sona stepped forward.

Like everyone else, Sona was shocked and appaled by the events and revelations, but she was the closest to both Eren and Mikasa.

Sona had the key to this.

So she stepped forward, bracing herself for what was to come.

"Aunty," Sona said, her eyes firmly meeting Mikasa's. "You promised Eren to tell me when I asked about your world. This is me asking. Tell us. I am ready."

Mikasa seemed to search her eyes for a long moment, and the room held its breath.

Sona did not back down.

Mikasa was the one who looked away first.

"It will change how you think of Eren," Mikasa said softly, not looking at anyone in particular. "Can't you let me deal with this? I want your memories with him to be happy ones."

"That wouldn't be fair to you," Sona denied vehemently. "That wouldn't be fair to Eren."

"So-tan," Serafall stepped forward to place a hand on her sister's shoulder. "Focus on your dream. Let us deal with this. We're strong."

"So are we," Rias said, stepping forward with her head held high and Akeno by her side.

They weren't the only ones. Everyone who knew Eren personally, all his friends and former comrades, from Yuuto and Issei to Koneko and Kuroka, and even Vali's team, all looked at Mikasa Ackerman and challenged her to look at them as anything but strong enough to handle what the world threw at them.


At the lead, Sona asked the question she should have asked that day in the infirmary.

"Who is Eren Yeager?"

So Mikasa told them.

"Eren Yeager was our hero, and we made him a villain. He was... a guardian angel that became our Devil. Eren was a victim of the cruelties of our world who lived long enough to become an aggressor who destroyed our world."

Mikasa slumped against the wall as she spoke, sliding down it until she was on the ground with her knees to her chest.

She stared at nothing as she pulled up the red scarf she always wore until it covered the bottom half of her face.

It was as if Mikasa was trying to hide from the world.

"By killing eighty percent of humanity."


Ok, disclaimer time.

This was initially supposed to be one whole chapter combined with Mikasa's explanation. But I kept writing and writing and writing, and when the chapter was at 15k and still going, I decided to split it. Only I faced a problem. It was still too long. I considered cutting the entire thing for pacing reasons, even after all my work and writing a quick, 2-3k summary.

In the end, I decided against it for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to gloss over such an important discussion for the characters. Second, I feel like I've done a decent enough job of providing world-building for DxD for the readers who are unfamiliar with it, and this will give context to the AOT side for those who didn't read/watch/finish it. If anyone decides to reread the story when it is done (which I hope you'll want to), it will explain a lot to those who don't follow AOT.

Third, part of the reason I am writing this fic is to come to terms with the end of AOT, and the next part has done a lot to help with that, so I didn't want to deprive that of readers who might be hoping for that same sense of reflection I got by writing it. Finally, I found a few natural places to cut it that would ensure that every 'chapter' contained the next step of the story and provided a few character moments and details that I liked/were important.

So here's what's going to happen. Starting today, I will release a chapter every day until this 'night' is done. This way, this slowdown in pace is only for this weekend's releases, and things will be at their usual pace next week. This does mean more work for me, but I'll manage.

How this will look will depend on your knowledge of AOT. If you are really familiar with it, you can treat these chapters as a sort of 'reading fic' of AOT as a whole by the cast. If you have been reading this story with only the barest of knowledge, or none at all, of AOT, this will hopefully answer some questions. Either way, this means more chapters this weekend, so I hope it makes up for the slower-than-usual pace.

One thing to remember throughout: this is not only Mikasa's perspective, looking back, but also what she chooses to tell these people, some she barely knows and might still be enemies. This is not a comprehensive story of AOT as a whole, just the main points focusing on Eren and Mikasa's journey. I can't, and won't, write all that in this fiction, and if you are interested, you should go read the manga or watch the anime.

Now, a quick word about this chapter specifically. Despite how it began and ended, I wanted it to be a more 'Dxd' chapter to contrast the tone of the rest of the night, which will be most AOT coded. We'll be seeing a bit more from Team Vali from here on out, so this also serves as a decent introduction to those who are unfamiliar with them.

The whole 'cookie' thing is how the canon crew usually got Ophis to do things by promising her rewards (offerings sometimes, usually sweets), and Eren, for all his power, can't force Ophis to do anything she doesn't want to. If I could see the future and I needed to manipulate her, I would take the easiest way to do it. There is no reason why Eren wouldn't either.

Whew, that was a lot. For now, I'll just tell you all that I'll be waiting for you all tomorrow on the bench.
As a Rumbling Enjoyer and Floch's Strongest Soldier, I'm torn.

On one hand, yeah, it's horrifying, massive death toll, genocide, etcetera. But on the other hand... it happened for some very understandable in-universe reasons. Made double understandable after Isayama's "Endings". And they're only really getting Mikasa's perspective on it, which seems relatively unfair to the event, given that she and the rest of the survey corps basically fucked the world over, making sure nobody got what they wanted and everyone wanted revenge on everyone. Mikasa's telling will be, uh, very biased.

Also shout out to Floch and his final two acts, holy shit were those H Y P E moments. Dude went plus ultra for Eldia, absolute madlad. Then died begging them to stop with Hange going "Yeah, you're right, but also IDEALS". Series Ending Eren was super cringe as well, admittedly. "i FoRgOt WhY i DiD iT" indeed.

Still, whichever way you're taking this, Pro-Rumbling, Anti-Rumbling, or something inbetween, the story is going to be interesting to read regardless.
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Great chapter, it will be interesting to see how the cast reacts to the truth of the Rumbling, I imagine most of them will be horrified, but what will Serafall and Azazel think, as they are both Monsters with large kill counts themselves. Also, it will be quite fascinating to see what Mikasa keeps to herself and how biased she will be in her telling. See you Tomorow on the bench.
Thank you for the great chapter, given how Mikasa likely knows a vast majority of the story behind the rumbling (both sides of it) I am very curious to see how she tells the story of their world. Stay safe out there and keep up the good work!
I like how Serafall is trying to flex on the white dragon emperor in the same room as Ophis, who's largely aligned with him. Sit down, magical girl.
Hopes and Damnations
There was complete silence in the room at Mikasa's words, nobody able to formulate words or grasp the absurd statement that had just left Mikasa's mouth.

Certainly not Serafall.

She had known that her Pawn's world was harsh despite its lack of magic. She had known that a war devastated it when Mikasa was young. She knew that most of Mikasa's life had been spent living a quiet life while the world rebuilt from that war.

Serafall had even weaselled out over the years that the boy Mikasa had loved had been on the enemy's side and had died during that war. Serafall had likened it to the devastation after the Civil War for years.

But... Eighty percent of humanity?

Even at the lowest point of devilkind, after centuries of the Great War and the Civil War, devils had never been reduced to only twenty percent of their peek population.

The Evil Piece system was instituted because devils' birth rate was terrible. Even in the cease-fire that followed the Great War, devils simply died more than they bred, leading to a slow extinction if not for Adjuka's invention.

Still, eighty percent?

If devils had lost eighty percent of their population, other pantheons would have swooped in and killed them all. Not even Super Devils like Adjuka and Sirzechs could be everywhere at once. It was the main reason the new Satans had been forced to work with the Great King faction of devils, despite their distaste for them, to make up the numbers to ensure they weren't picked off at their weakest.

In the face of extinction, any alternative had been preferable.

But... Eighty percent?

Serafall Leviathan was a monster, even by devil standards. Her body count was in the tens, maybe breaching the hundreds of thousands. Some older devils had cleared the million mark in the Great War.

But... how much death was eighty percent of... anything?

And at the hand of a nineteen-year-old boy?

"Wha..." Finally, So-tan tried to speak, but her words caught in her throat.

"If she can see the dead," Mikasa continued to speak, looking down at the ground and not meeting anyone's gaze. "She probably saw them. If she saw Eren on me, she saw them all on him. They knew who he was. Knew what was happening. Knew it was coming. They all died cursing Eren. I can't imagine anyone more haunted by the dead than him."

A faint part of Serafall noted that even in her despondent state, Mikasa kept her pocket storage tool nearby in case Vali or the other intruders tried something.

A much more significant part of her felt her heart go out to her friend at the heartbreak that peaked through her voice.

Not everybody could hear that pain, though. To most, she was speaking plainly, without inflection.

"How many people is that," the wielder of Excalibur Ruler said grimly, one hand on his sister's shoulder and the other resting on the pommel of his blade.

If he drew Excalibur Ruller here, he'd be icy chunks before he could try anything.

"Our world was a century behind this one now, technology-wise. We have no way of knowing the exact numbers. Even the eighty percent number comes from Eren, though everything we learned after confirmed it."

"You have an idea, though," Bikou pressed. His face was ashen as he glared at Mikasa.

"... One and a half billion."

If eighty percent was hard to grasp, having a definitive number was... absurd. Insane.


One and a half billion people.

One and a half billion dead people.

Because of one boy.

That wasn't just monstrous any more. That was cataclysmic.


"That was our conservative estimate based on the number of nations that survived and landmass destroyed."

To measure destruction in countries and lives in billions... Minds, even those of devils and angels, weren't made to grasp such things.

"You..." Kuroka growled, stepping toward Mikasa's sitting body. "You expect me to believe Eren killed billions of people? That's impossible! He wouldn't. He couldn't!"

"Unless he set off the equivalent of several dozen hydrogen bombs at once, the logistics of killing that many people is impossible without completely destroying a planet," Azazel said with a degree of certainty.

"He didn't do it all at once," Mikasa muttered. "He did it over days. Step by step. It was not a moment of anger or an accident. Eren killed them all himself. Deliberately."

"...How...Eren... He's..." Rias tried to find the words but couldn't.

"If it took that long, people would just leave, right?" Le Fay asked, desperate for Mikasa to be wrong.

"You all are thinking about it from your positions. Your experiences." Mikasa looked up, her eyes a haunted mask. "We didn't have magic. We couldn't teleport. We couldn't fly like you all can. We didn't have cars. We barely had a few trains. Did people try and run? Of course they did. They died running. You couldn't escape The Rumbling anywhere on Earth. It was inevitable."

Mikasa's eyes met Kuroka's, and something Serafall didn't understand passed between them.

"One of the Nine Titans was called the Colossal Titan," Mikasa said, and this time, her voice was empty of all emotion. "Sixty meters tall, it was called the God of Destruction in our world. Whenever a Shifter transformed into it, it produced an explosion equal to a small nuclear bomb. Even after transforming, it gave off enough heat to burn trees and flesh, on top of being so massive. The Colossal alone was enough to destroy a small country, even ignoring all the other Shifters. Eren was the Founder, the Titan who could control all Titans. He had millions of Colossal Titans."

Serafall tried to imagine it.

She had actually seen Great Red once, from a very safe distance. The Dragon of Dragons was enormous and stretched a hundred meters from nose to tail. The Satan imagined a human of that size without the tail.

Then she imagined millions of them.

...If they were regular humans, scaled up in size, the Underworld would probably survive. They could probably kill them all in a few days if all the Satans and Ultimate Class devils fought at full power. The time it would take would depend on how close together the giants were.

But not before taking more losses than Serafall could imagine, just from sheer numbers.

The only salvation was that every devil could fly so they'd be able to remain out of reach, but when the numbers were that high, there were bound to be casualties measuring in the tens of thousands.

Humans... they didn't have that option.

And her Pawn had fought that?

"All they did was walk, but that was enough to destroy everything. Cities were crushed to nothing, not even rubble. Animals, plants, people. It didn't matter. They were crushed and burned by the heat. It was hell. When they crossed the ocean, the sea boiled. The Earth shook with their steps," Mikasa murmured, looking away again. "That was why it was called The Rumbling."

"Satans," Sona breathed out in horrified shock.

"Eren didn't discriminate," Mikasa continued, fists clenched against her scarf. "While the Rumbling started from our home and was ostensibly a tool for Eldian domination, it spread outward without care for what was in its way. He crushed our people just to leave Paradis, our island. Then... Then he crushed everything. Man. Women. Children. Marlian or Eldian, it didn't matter. He killed them all. Nothing remained where he stepped but burnt footprints of bloody mud."

"Why... why would he do that?" Rias asked quietly.

Serafall felt for the girl. Rias had always been an exceptionally kind devil, even by Gremory standards. To have her friend and crush be someone who could do... that, Serafall didn't know what the redhead was feeling, but it definitely wasn't good.

Still, Serafall's main area of concern was So-tan, who had stepped away from Mikasa, almost pressing herself against the Wall. As if distancing herself from her aunt would protect her from her words.

"Salvation and revenge," Mikasa muttered, tightly clenching her fists around her scarf. "Don't be too hard on Eren."

"Hard on him?" Xenovia said, stepping forward. "You just said he killed a billion people! That is a monster, pure and simple."

"Xenovia," Issei said forcefully, placing an arm on his girlfriend's shoulder to stop her.

"What, Ise?" Xenovia demanded. "Killing that many innocent people cannot be salvation, just destruction. So why shouldn't we be hard on a monster like that?"

"Because Eren didn't benefit from that genocide," Mikasa said guiltily. "We did."

Before anyone could ask what she meant, Gasper's control over his Gear faltered.

Valerie started screaming again and throwing herself away. To her, no time had passed at all.

Serafall wasn't having it. This was hard enough on Mi-chan already. She didn't need someone screaming in fear at her.

In less than a second, the Satan was beside the dhampir and pressed a hand to the woman's forehead.

Serafall might not be an absolute abomination like Sirzechs or have the magical control of Adjuka, but she was still a centuries-old Satan who had fought and won her race's civil war.

It only took a second to blow past the dhampir's magical resistance to quickly induce a state of hypothermia, knocking the woman unconscious.

"She needed a nap," Serafall said with a wide smile as she skipped back to her place, casually putting the unconscious dhampir back on the couch with one hand as she retook her place beside So-tan and Mi-chan.

Unfortunately, her antics didn't get a smile out of anyone. Internally, Serafall lamented.

What was the point of a Magical Girl if not getting everyone to smile?

"What do you mean you benefited?" Kuroka said accusingly, paying no attention to the brief intermission.

"Eren's plan," Yuuto frowned as he leaned against the Wall. "He told me it was as much about ensuring his friends lived long, happy lives as it was about revenge. The Rumbling, you... fighting him, it worked, didn't it? He achieved his aim with the Rumbling."

"Yes..." Mikasa whispered. "It worked. All of us were saved by The Rumbling. Eldia prospered. We went from a country surrounded by enemies ready and desiring to exterminate us to the strongest force on the planet after the Rumbling. We couldn't be victims because no one was left strong enough to attack us."

"By killing everyone?" Rias asked in disbelief. And anger. "That... that isn't... that doesn't work!"

"It did work," Mikasa denied, but her voice had no strength. "All it cost was one and a half billion lives and Eren. His death gave us peace the world hadn't seen for two thousand years."

"'They create a wasteland and call it peace.'" So-tan sighed sadly, no doubt quoting something cool, as she rubbed her eyes.

"It is something many refuse to acknowledge about reality," Azazel told the room filled with the younger generation. "Cruelty... More often than not, it works better than kindness."

Serafall... She tried not to think of the Civil War, of all the devils she had killed. Some had been soldiers... many hadn't.

All that death for a future for their people. It didn't change what she had done, though.

"You approve?" Xenovia glared.

"I acknowledge reality. As a scientist, I must."

"That doesn't make it right!"

"You are forgetting who you are talking to," Azazel said with a wry smile. "Right? Wrong? It's just perspective. I was there when the Old Man destroyed Sodom and Gamorha. I was there when the tower of Babel fell. Do you think everyone He killed was guilty?"

Xenovia and Irina both looked like they were ready to argue, and Asia was too horrified and despondent to join when Azazel stopped them with a glare.

"Do not forget that if He had His way, everyone in this room, and every devil or fallen out there, man, woman, or child, would have been exterminated. That was what the Great War was. Explicitly. It was a war of genocide, and the winner would be the only race that survived." The Governor of the Grigori seemed to age as the anger left him. "There were no good guys, not even the angels."

Xenovia had nothing to say about that, and Irina was conspicuously quiet.

"There is no such thing as a good person, only people who are good to you."

Serafall cast a worried glance at Rias' mutter but turned her attention back to her Pawn as she started talking again.

"The world became exactly as Eren willed it," Mikasa muttered. "And he hated it. Eren hated the Rumbling. He spent years looking for another way, any other way. He didn't want to die. He didn't want to kill all those innocent people. He wanted revenge and not to be limited to our island or the districts the other countries forced Eldians to live in, but he didn't want it to cost that much. Eren wanted to be free, but he never wanted to kill people to get that freedom. He never got his wish."

"Then why did he do it," Issei asked, demanded really. "I... I'm trying to understand. I am. But I don't get it. I'm too dumb to get it. Why did he have to kill so many people if he hated it?"

"Ise." A teary Asia held her boyfriend's hand to reassure him.

"Eren... He didn't choose the Rumbling alone. We forced him to."

"...What," So-tan asked, horrified. "What did you do?"

Serafall couldn't let this go on. Either So-tan or Mi-chan would be hurt. So she did something she hated doing.

"Everyone," Serafall Leviathan said with an arctic glare around the room. "Calm down. We don't have all the facts."

She looked at her Pawn and, for the first time in their nineteen years together, gave her an order.

"Start at the beginning, Mikasa."

Gah. So un-cute.

But Mi-chan and So-tan were worth it.

Seeing her seriousness, Mikasa looked into her friend's eyes and gave a slow nod, still wrapped in the scarf.

So she told them.

Mikasa spoke about a world a hundred years after an apocalypse, where humanity's only survivors lived within three great walls, beset at all times by man-eating titans.

There were frowns around the room as people realized her tale clashed with what they already knew about her world.

"It was so black and white then," Mikasa spoke softly, almost longingly, of those times. "Humanity was good, the Titans were bad. Soldiers were our defenders. But... the cracks were already there for those who knew how to look. The myth was held by a thread. We were dying. Slowly but surely, we were dying. Animals in a cage slowly being picked off. It might have taken centuries, but humanity would go extinct."

"But you were a child," Serafall encouraged softly. "You didn't need to worry about that. You just had to live your life and grow."

"We were happy in our ignorance. Those who wanted to be free would join the scouts and likely die," Mikasa continued in a self-deprecating tone. "A self-correcting issue. The rest of us? We just lived our lives, doing what we could to be happy."

"What changed," Sona asked, not unkindly but firmly.

"...We just called it 'That Day.'" Mikasa muttered, wrapping herself in her scarf. "That's all it was. Another day. But it was the day we received a grim reminder of the real nature of the world. Humanity was not safe. We lived in fear of the Titans. We were disgraced to live in these cages we called Walls."

Mikasa looked up, meeting everyone's eyes for the first time in a while.

Serafall's heart broke just a little more at that look.

"You can't understand without experiencing it. The fear and shame of living like that. Of being prey. We were food, nothing more. Our illusion of safety and happiness disappeared when a Titan, larger than even the Wall, destroyed the gate to Shinganshina. Home..."

Mikasa trailed off for a moment, then shook her head and continued.

"A second odd Titan, one covered in armour, burst through the broken gate to the city and charged straight through. Our defences could not stop it as it destroyed the inner gate. And just like that, humanity lost a third of all it owned."

"Titan Shifters," Rias noted, biting her thumb hard enough to pierce the skin. "Someone did that."

"We didn't know shifters were a thing then," Mikasa said helplessly. "We didn't know Titans were people. All we knew was that Titans were out there strong enough and smart enough to destroy our defences. One Wall fell in minutes. If the other two fell, humanity was finished. We lived in fear of the armoured and colossal titans for years, never knowing when they'd show up and end it all."

"Eren's revenge," Yuuto said with clenched fists. "If someone did that to me... To my home..."

Mikasa didn't comment on his words, but her shoulders did slump further.

"...We were away from the house when it happened. Saw the Colossal ourselves," she said mechanically. "We knew we had to run. Grisha was out of the city for work, so he was safe, but... Carla was still at the house. We ran back to get her as Titans started coming through the hole, led there by a third shifter, the Female Titan, though nobody saw her."

"Female Titan could control other Titans?" Kuroka asked through grit teeth and clenched fists. "I thought that was the Founder's ability."

Koneko hesitantly placed a hand on her older sister's. With the speed of a startled cat, Kuroka's gaze flashed down. Her eyes widened in shock, and she unclenched them without realizing it.

Koneko slowly slid her hand into Kuroka's, not meeting her sister's eyes.

"The Female Titan can use a lesser version of all the other titan abilities, including the Founder's," Mikasa said simply. Then she looked up, her eyes locking on Issei's. "Yes, we called it the Female Titan because it had breasts. No matter their original genders, all other Titans looked like men, so it was the easiest descriptor."

"H..ey, hey," Issei held up his hands in defence. "I... wasn't going to say anything."

Judging by the look on his face, he definitely would have said something.

"It's fine," Mikasa muttered carelessly. "The commander at the time, Pyxis, reacted similarly when he learned of her. Something about men and breasts bigger than their bodies."

Serafall, with more than a bit of humour, noted how the Red Dragon Emperor's eyes went unfocused, and he started drooling at the thought.

He was torn out of it when Sona brought her aunt back on track.

At some point, the horror of The Rumbling left her face, and she returned to her position in front of Mikasa.

Serafall did not like the look on Sona's face. Focused, but not in the cute way So-tan usually scrunched her brows in focus.

It was too... detached.

"You were telling us about That Day?"

Any bit of joviality left the room as Mikasa bit her lip.

"When Ber... When the Colossal Titan kicked down the gate, one of the pieces... fell on our house. We found Carla trapped in the debris. Nothing we did could free her. We tried. For way longer than we should have, but we tried. Then we saw it. The Smiling Titan."

"Another Shifter?" Sona asked, tapping her fingers rhythmically on her arm.

"No. Just an Abnormal," Mikasa explained woodenly. "Sometimes titans were like that. Slightly smarter, or behaving in odd ways, or moving differently. They were always more dangerous than regular Pure Titans because we couldn't predict how they'd move. We called it the Smiling Titan because it was its most identifiable feature. Sometimes something like that was all we had to go on."

"Aunty..." Sona said sadly. "You're stalling again."

Mikasa bit her lip, and Serafall tried to give her an out.

"This is enough for today," Leviathan said in her un-cute voice. "We can continu-"

"No." Mikasa shook her head minutely as she cut off her King. "No, Serafall. If I am going to do this, I will do it once. Here and now. And this is, perhaps, the most important part of the whole story. Carla... she was the start of it all."

Serafall didn't protest.

She just sat beside her Pawn and wrapped an arm around her.

Mi-chan was always so strong, trying to fight through everything, that Serafall wished she didn't try to shoulder things alone.

But if she needed to do this, the King would not go against her decision.

Serafall just sat beside Mikasa and wrapped an arm around her.

She pretended to not feel the subtle shaking as Mikasa spoke again.

"It... came right for Carla. Eren kept trying to get her out, but we couldn't. We just couldn't. Then Hannes, a family friend, and a soldier was there. Armin had told him what we were doing. I think... I think we hoped he could kill the Titan. That he could save us."

Mikasa shook her head, subtly rubbing her eyes with the scarf as she did.

"It was stupid. We were kids. We didn't understand that it takes a team of people working together to take down one regular Titan, let alone an Abnormal. And even then, there are casualties. Hannes... he was a regular soldier. A half-drunk wall guard. He wasn't an Ackerman, Shifter, or even a scout who dealt with Titans daily. He was... just Hannes."

Mikasa bit her lip.

"He was a regular man. A good man," Mikasa continued. "He saved our lives by running away that day. We understood later. We forgave him. But he never forgave himself for not saving Carla."

Mikasa stopped talking for a moment, and this time, nobody spoke up.

It was a minute later that she could keep going.

"We watched it eat her as Hannes ran. She was screaming, begging for rescue, and it just... bit her in half. We heard it. The crunch. The silence after. That was the last memory Eren and I have of our mother."

Mikasa took a deep breath, steadying herself as if the hard part was over. She looked back up, almost glaring at the room.

"That was also the moment Eren swore to kill every Titan. That Day, that rage is such a core part of who Eren became that you must remember it." Mikasa glared at the room as if daring them to forget. "Before That Day, he dreamed of freedom, of killing titans to explore the world. After That Day, he was always running for that future. Nothing could stop him. If That Day had never happened, there would have been no Rumbling."

"But..." Akeno said, looking confused rather than horrified like the others. "Eren told me he..."

"I know," Mikasa closed her eyes. "He didn't lie."

Akeno covered her mouth to stifle a choking cry. There was that horror, manifold that of the others.

"Akeno," Rias asked, worried about her Queen.

"Ah-" Akeno made to speak, but the words caught on her throat.

"I'll tell them," Mikasa said before she could try again. "Eventually. There are other things to know first."

Serafall at once felt despair and pride at her friend's unwillingness to let others shoulder her burden.

"Grisha found us quickly enough among the refugees," Mikasa said, letting out a breath. "One night, he took Eren into the woods. He was never seen again. Eren had no memory of what happened. That is very common for new Shifters, though we didn't know it then. The first transformation is always disorienting."

This time, it was the Gremory Group, plus Sona, who looked extra horrified.

The Vali Team, plus Azazel and Serafall, looked confused.

"Grisha was the Attack Titan before Eren," Mikasa said simply, not looking at anyone. "After the Fall of Wall Maria, he had gone to confront the Founder to ask for it to help reclaim the lost territory. They refused, so Grisha took The Founder even though he couldn't use it. He returned to Eren and passed both on to him. He didn't have the time left in his life to do it himself. Grisha turned Eren into a Pure Titan using some of his leftover serum, and let Eren eat him. That's how the Nine Titans are passed on. Eating the previous hosts."

After that revaluation, it took minutes for the members of the Vali Team to calm down, as they were just as horrified as they should have been. Le Fay, in particular, was distraught, and Serafall absently noted the group dynamics in case she needed to use it. Vali was the leader, but everyone kept careful watch of Le Fay.

Even Serafall and Azazel, two old hands at cruelty and violence, felt vaguely sick at the idea of a power that required the inheritor to eat the previous holder directly.

Killing for power was nothing new to them, but being forced to eat a family member just so that you had a chance to survive?

Serafall imagined forcing So-tan to eat her to become the next Leviathan...

She held Mikasa all the tighter.

"Eren didn't remember that night until years later, thankfully, but he had just lost his mother, and his father had disappeared. He, Armin, and I were alone, except for Armin's grandfather. But..."

"There's more!?" Irina asked in horrified disbelief.

"After That Day," Mikasa said, taking a deep breath to continue her story. Now that the personal element was gone, she returned to her dry recital. "Things changed. Humanity had lost the land protected by Wall Maria, a third of the land available to us. Land that was mostly used for food and supplies. Refugees flooded Wall Rose, fleeing the Titans coming in through the hole. There simply wasn't enough food for everyone. Either we'd run out of food and everyone would die, or... we could get rid of people that needed to eat."

"Dear God," Irina said in horror, and all the devils in the room felt a spike of pain at the mention of Him.

The new angel didn't even register, too horrified by the story.

"They called it an expedition to reclaim Wall Maria," Mikasa said mirthlessly. "The royal government needed to eliminate the unemployed, starving, discontent masses. They sent two hundred and fifty thousand, twenty percent of all humanity we knew of, out to fight the Titans with sticks and pitchforks. Armin's grandfather included."

Serafall imagined she wasn't the only one who saw the parallel between that operation and the Rumbling, of which only twenty percent of humanity survived.

"After that... we were really alone. Hannes tried to keep in contact, but he was a soldier, and there was plenty for soldiers to do. For years, it was just the three of us."

Mikasa spent some time reviewing the next few years of their struggle to survive until they were old enough to join the military.

Then she spoke of the cadet corps, of the 104th year and their struggles to learn how to fight titans, and the comrades they came to know over three years together.

For a while, the story was light. Almost jovial.

Sasha trying to bribe the commander with a potato. Eren getting into fights. Bertholt's silly way of sleeping. Eren's initial failure with ODM gear. Marco's optimism and Annie's cynicism. The way almost everyone had a crush on Krista Lenz, the angel of the group, and how Ymir acted like a guard dog. Daz's repeated mishaps. The awkward romance between Franz and Hannah.

Serafall recognized that Mikasa spoke of that time so much because that was her clearest 'good' memories.

Then, on their last day before becoming soldiers, she spoke of Trost.

Mikasa told them of the Colossal Titan's reappearance and how the cadets, comrades and friends, started dying.

Eren included.

Mikasa spoke hollowly of how they thought him dead, eaten by a titan. She told of how the city was considered lost, and they were trapped and unable to escape the supply depot.

Then, like a hero, there was the appearance of an Abnormal Titan. One who fought and killed other Titans rather than humans.

Mikasa's voice quivered as she spoke of discovering Eren was the Abnormal, of pulling him from the nap of its neck.

She told them about fighting back to the Wall and everyone's confusion about what was happening. She also described the fear and distrust everyone felt against Eren, his first partial transformation to save them, and the beginning of the plan to retake Trost.

"...If Carla was that start, then Trost was the first step," Mikasa said hollowly. "Seeing Eren carrying that boulder to plug that hole in the Wall... It was the first time we had reclaimed territory from the Titans. It gave us hope like nothing had ever done before. 'With Eren, we can win!' We all thought that on some level. And that was our first sin."

"Sin?" Irina asked. "Hope is not a sin."

Mikasa shook her head and pressed forward with her story.

From there, Mikasa spoke of the government's initial fear and distrust of Eren and how he would have been executed if not for the Scouts stepping forward.

She spoke of joining them herself with her friends and of their efforts to understand the mechanics of Shifting with only the barest hints to go on.

Then came the disastrous expedition mission to reach the basement in Shinganshina, where they hoped to find answers Grisha had left behind and the first appearance of the Female Titan.

"...Eren's new team died. All of them. To protect him. They weren't the first or the last to die protecting him, but it was just another step forward."

"Eren was bait," So-tan guessed, her eyes narrowed. "For other Shifters."

"The Female Titan was after Eren. Erwin had planned as much," Mikasa nodded. "Though we hadn't known about her and had thought the Armoured Titan would be the one attacking. Still, we fought tooth and nail to protect him. He was our hope. Without him, we were doomed to a slow death. Eren... he was humanity's future. So we dedicated our hearts, our lives, and our dreams to him. To keep him safe. We managed to keep the Female Titan from getting Eren, but that is all we achieved. It was a massive failure all around."

Then Mikasa spoke of the plan to discover the Female Titan's identity and its terrible truth.

"Eren... he values people. He latches on slowly, but once he does, he will go to the end of the Earth for you. To find out Annie was the Female Titan... Before that moment, it had always been 'Humans vs. Titans.' 'Good vs. Evil.' It wasn't anymore."

"... Betrayal hurts," Koneko nodded slowly, and Kuroka's hand tightened around her sister's. "Eren... He was angry, wasn't he? Really angry."

"Annie hadn't just been a fellow soldier. She had been a cadet with us. We saw her every day. She helped train him. Team exercises, eating together, or even just talking. Eren had never hidden what had happened to us in Shinganshina, but to find out a fellow cadet had been partly responsible for That Day, someone who had heard him speak of the pain inflicted by the attack... It broke something in him."

"She wasn't the only one, was she?" So-tan said, rubbing her eyes beneath her glasses. Serafall didn't miss that she surreptitiously wiped her hands to dry them afterward. Then they were back on, and her face was in that look Serafall didn't like. "It can't be a coincidence that the Colossal Titan attacked Trost while you were there."

"...No. It wasn't a coincidence. All three Titan Shifters who attacked us were part of our cohort."

"That is a big coincidence," Vali said with narrowed eyes.

"The plan was that children would be less suspicious," Mikasa muttered. "The military was their way to get closer to important figures. They were looking for the Founder, but they hadn't responded when the Shifters took down Maria, so the Warriors were at a loss. It just turned out that Eren was the Attack Titan, one of the Nine who had been missing for years. They thought they could take him instead if they couldn't find the Founder."

"Satans," Rias breathed out in shock. "How old were they?"

"The same as us," Mikasa said hollowly. "They were just kids, ten or eleven, when they destroyed our home. Teenagers younger than you when we joined the military. Just kids, told what to do, what to believe, who was right and who was wrong by the adults around them. They had been told we were Island Devils, the source of all evil for all their lives. Monsters just waiting to kill everyone."

Mikasa shook her head, and a note of despair filled her otherwise empty voice.

"We were all betrayed. By each other. By the world. By the lies we had been told and we told ourselves. The world... it was just that cruel."

Mikasa picked up the story again, talking about discovering that the three great walls were actually Colossal Titans—millions of them—and that certain parts of the government, military, and religion knew about it.

Then she spoke of the discovery of Titans within Wall Rose and the fear it had been breached, of the hunt for the hole in the Wall at night. Her perspective shifted as she spoke of the siege of the ruins of Castle Utgard.

Mikasa hadn't been there herself, but her friends had told the story of the horror of that night. Another of their comrades, Ymir, was also a Titan Shifter, and she transformed into the Jaw Titan to save them.

Then, the return to the safety of Wall Rose and the discovery of who the Colossal and Armour Titans really were.

More comrades betrayed them, only they were also Scouts and on their team, so the pain and rage were magnified.

Once more, Eren and Ymir had been taken, and they needed to rescue them.

"So much happened during that mission... Hannes died. Commander Erwin lost an arm. A hundred people set out to rescue Eren, and only half returned..." Mikasa trailed off, and then she shook her head sadly. "Eren knew it. Armin told me that the first thing he asked when he returned was, 'I got captured again. How many people died this time?'... We should have noticed then. But we didn't. Because our comrades had died, and their deaths needed to mean something. Because Eren was worth it to us. To humanity."

Mikasa stared into the distance for a long moment, then shook her head again and picked up the story.

Seeing her so unsure of herself was so odd to Serafall. It reminded her of those first few months after her reincarnation, where Mikasa just... went along and the emptiness the Satan had seen in her expression.

"I got ahead of myself. All you need to know about the mission is two things." Mikasa refocused on the room. "One, we got Eren back, but Ymir decided to leave with the Warriors. She did it knowing she would be killed, and her Titan passed to another Marlian candidate. I don't know why. Maybe she sacrificed herself to save the Warriors. They'd also be killed if they didn't have some sort of achievement. Even then, I don't think we could bring ourselves to hate them. Ymir knew what they had gone through, so she could understand them when we couldn't."

Mikasa trailed off for a moment, then continued.

"Probably, Ymir did it for Historia, despite knowing they couldn't be together. So she wouldn't be implicated. All it meant for us was we lost the opportunity to get answers and another Titan Shifter on our side. The second important part is this was the first time Eren ever used the Founder."

"How?" So-tan asked, and Serafall could almost imagine her taking mental notes, trying to piece everything together. "You said he could only use it when working with someone of a specific bloodline."

"We didn't know it then, but the Smiling Titan was originally someone with royal blood. It was among the Titans that attacked us. When Eren touched it, he could command the other Pure Titans in the area on instinct to rip it to shreds. He did it instinctually, having no idea what was happening, but it saved our lives."

"And by that point, you didn't know about the Founder at all, did you?" Sona clarified.

"No," Mikasa denied. "Unfortunately, the Warriors knew. They had been looking for it. They saw Eren use it. They knew what it meant. Reiner... He told me later that the idea of Eren, of all people, having that power terrified him. Anyone else, in his mind, would be better. Still, they couldn't stop us from getting away after that."

"At least he managed to get revenge," Vali breathed out, crossing his arms as he leaned against the Wall.

Mikasa didn't say anything to the White Dragon Emperor, and Serafall had the terrible idea that things weren't that simple.

Still, she let Mi-chan continue.

From there, Mikasa talked less about titans and more about the structure of their society, the three branches of the military, and how the country's leaders had known the actual state of the world all along but kept it hidden from the populace by killing anyone who asked the wrong questions or invented the wrong thing.

She talked about the hidden king, the secret assassination squads, and Kenny Ackerman. And she spoke of the kidnapping of Historia Reiss and Eren Yeager, even as the Scouts tried to keep them safe.

"...It was the first time we killed people," Mikasa said helplessly. "Until then, we were only fighting Titans. People, not titans, were the bad guys for the first time. We hadn't joined the military to kill people but to defend humanity."

"You were fighting the other Shifters," Arthur pointed out grimly.

"We had no idea what was going on with them," Mikasa shook her head. "Their motivations, plans, origins, even the nature of Titan Shifting. We were scrambling in the dark. For all we knew, they were Titans turning into humans, rather than humans turned Titans. They were clearly our enemy, and we fought them like we fought Titans. They were from outside the Walls, enemies... It was 'them' and 'us.' I don't think we really thought about what to do with them when we caught them besides getting answers."

Serafall knew it was never that simple. She knew many Pillar families were closer in ideology to the Old Satan Faction than with the New Satans, yet they had still sided with them during the Civil War out of self-interest.

And Serafall, Sirzechs, Adjuka, and Falbium, the leaders of one side, had let them join. They were fighting to save their race, after all.

Deals with devils all around.

"The government and royal family were from the inside the Wall. The very center," Mikasa gritted her teeth in frustration. "It was proof our fundamental beliefs, the basis on which we could dedicate our hearts even beyond our death, were wrong. All our lives had been a lie. We died for a lie."

"And Eren had been kidnapped again," Kuroka said grimly.

"He must have hated that," Akeno said, staring off into the distance with a wry smile.

"...Yes. Looking back on that first year, when everything was so confusing, Eren wasn't considered a person. Not really. He was a tool. A weapon. He had no agency, no freedom. The government, the warriors, the scouts... us. Nothing he did seemed to change anything. More and more expectations were placed on him, more people died for him, and the burden on his back grew heavier."

"He was carrying your dreams," Issei agreed, staring into the distance. "He didn't want to let you down."

"He fought as hard as he could," Mikasa said, a hiccup in her voice that she pressed down to continue. "Over and over again, he was a victim of someone, feeling like he could not achieve anything. The frustration just grew and grew. This time, he was taken so the royal family could reclaim the Founder by having Historia eat Eren."

Mikasa spoke of the rescue, of learning that Historia was from the royal family, and of how Eren's father had killed the last holder, as well as all the other children and their mother. She told them how Rod Reiss had set everything up for Historia to reclaim the Founder.

But Historia refused.

From there, Mikasa spoke of the military coup, of Eren gaining the ability to harden himself, and of the institution of Historia as queen.

"After going through that together, their relationship changed," Mikasa murmured. "It was the last time Eren was kidnapped, but it was the worst for him. Eren, who had been shouldering all our hopes, learned that he gained his power from eating his father. That he was never supposed to have it. Eren... gave up. All the expectations. All the failures. He gave up. He had achieved nothing."

Mikasa drew in a deep breath, steeling herself.

"But Historia didn't give up. That, more than anything, changed how Eren thought of her. After Armin and I, Historia was the closest to Eren. She had the opportunity to gain all the power in the world, and she threw it away for him. Eren didn't like Krista Lenz, but Historia... He..."

Mikasa shook her head and changed the subject.

From there, Mikasa spoke of the battle to retake Shinganshina, their home.

Listening to her was intense, even for Serafall.

Especially for Serfall.

She knew how much these comrades meant to Mikasa, even now. The woman might value those closest to her the most, but she was inherently someone who cared for others.

Hearing of the fight against former comrades, Erwin's last charge against the Beast Titan, Armin's sacrifice to get the Colossal Titan, and the cost of it all.

Of feeding a former comrade, a teenager, to Armin to save him and give him the Colossal Titan. Of the revelation that the Beast Titan who had killed so many of their friends was actually Eren's brother.

"So few of us survived the battle... But we did it. We reclaimed our home. After years, we had finally retaken what they took from us. And we found the basement."

Anger, genuine anger, filled Mikasa's voice for the first time, and she spat her following words.

"I wish we hadn't."


The struggle is real. I'm essentially trying to retell the AOT story quickly without losing the emotions, yet still giving moments for characters to shine. All while not giving unnecessary word padding. Still, I hope this and the following chapters help a few people who aren't as familiar with AOT as I am.

This is just a reminder that this is the story Mikasa is telling them. It is not a blow-by-blow account of everything. I hope I've conveyed how much of a struggle she is going through to try and get them to understand not just her position but Eren's.

Her story digresses, it tangents, it stops and starts. Nobody recounting that level of trauma, not even Mikasa, could do it cleanly. But at the same time, she's been bottling this up for the last nineteen years, and parts just flow out with the release. That conflict in her is what I am trying to get across.

Either way, I'll see you all tomorrow on the bench.
Great chapter, I think you're doing an excellent job of retelling AOT through Mikasa, also the Billion+ kill count is staggering in size, especially when you consider that it was done over multiple days and by hand in a sense, a truly horrifying event. I think that most of the cast will have a hard time coming to terms with Eren, I also really enjoyed seeing that even Serafall and Azazel were shocked by both the Rumbling and how Titans work as a power, I guess that even amongst monsters like them the difference between Shonen and Seinen is large. See you tomorrow on the bench.
"I wish that the boulder had destroyed the house. I wish..." Mikasa shook her head, hands falling helplessly to the ground. "It doesn't matter. We would eventually learn the truth one way or another. It was just the worst timing and the most personal of ways to learn about the world. To read it in Grisha's hand, to learn what he had gone through and what the world was like from someone he loved... It was the final straw for Eren."

"I can imagine," Yuuto muttered.

Mikasa shook her head.

"His entire life, he had been fighting for humanity, for freedom beyond the Walls. To discover that there was no freedom out there, that humanity was the enemy, not Titans? To find out that all the lives sacrificed for him had been for nothing, that Titans would never disappear so long as people, his people, us, were alive..."

Mikasa looked so helpless, so lost and... small that Serafall wanted to wrap her in a blanket.

She settled for tightening her hug.

"It broke him," Mikasa rhasped. "There was no hope anymore. No matter what, the future was dark. And to learn that he only had a few years left to live on top of that? That Armin had thirteen years left? Eren would have chosen anything over that. And he did."

"Wait a minute!" Kuroka hurried to interject before Mikasa could continue. "Why was Armin dying? Eren was sick, but Armin lived a full life, right?"

For a long moment, Mikasa just looked at the nekoshou, uncomprehending. Then she looked around the room with furrowed brows, seeing the confusion on everyone's face.

"Eren... he should have told you why he was dying, right?"

"He called it Ymir's Curse," Rias said with clenched fists. "A genetic condition only Eldian's can get. He said he had it in his last life, as did his... father... and... brother."

Serafall could see the horrified realization dawn on the Gremory's face and spread to the others.

Mikasa gave a grim nod.

"One of the things we learned in the basement was that whenever a Titan Shifter inherits one of the Nine, they only have thirteen years left to live. We call it Ymir's Curse because the legend goes that the Founder, Ymir, died thirteen years after turning into a Titan. The legend is that nobody can be greater than her, so they die after thirteen years. So they die, and the power is passed on to a random Eldian infant."

"That doesn't make any sense," Le Fay said. "How does that work if your world doesn't have magic? That kind of long-lasting curse on a bloodline is possible for a few gods, but only the strongest."

"Really, we know nothing for sure on the subject." Mikasa gave an almost imperceptible shrug of helplessness. "That was just what we were told. Very few Shifters throughout history have actually lived the full thirteen years. Their Titan is passed on instead of dying naturally when their time gets near. Whether Ymir killed them, the power just sucked their life force as a price, or it was the burden of being able to transform at all that killed them, nobody knows. Everyone just knows they die."

Serafall could see Mikasa was trying to remain unaffected, trying to stay detached from the story by explaining things from a broad perspective.

'We' instead of 'I.'

She told the story of 'The Scouts and Eren,' not 'Mikasa and Eren.'

But... any time the subject got too close to home, any time she needed to reveal some of the personal tragedies that affected them... the woman shone through the soldier's mask.

And Serafall knew that pain all too well.

"All we knew was that Eren would die before he was twenty-three and Armin when he was twenty-eight... If nobody killed them first," Mikasa said despondently. "What we learned in that basement took something from us. Something pure. Something good. After the basement, there was no hope of a long and happy life for Eren or Armin."


"Dammit!" Issei swore through gritted teeth as his fist crashed against the Wall. He was crying tears of frustration and sadness. "Why, dammit!? There's nothing good about Titans, is there? But why did Senpai have to..."

"Ise." It was Xenovia's turn to comfort their boyfriend with a tight hug as Irina held Asia's hand.

He wasn't the only one with tears in his eyes. As the story continued, most of the captive audience had collapsed into a seat or lay on the floor.

Kuroka was sitting in one of the chairs, the cane hugged to her chest like a teddy bear, and she had a haunted look in her eyes. Surprisingly, Koneko was sitting at the foot of the chair, her back pressed against her sister's leg and curled into a ball.

Akeno and Rias were sides by side on another couch, holding each other's hands tightly, while Rias's other hand held Gasper's emerging from a box beside the unconscious Valeria.

Azazel had retreated to the far side of the room and was leaning against a wall with a serious face.

It was almost amusing how Vali's position mirrored the fallen's, though he was leaning more 'coolly' next to his team. He was biting his lips, though. On the ground beside him, Bikou sat against the Wall with his staff leaning on his shoulder.

Le Fay had wrapped her arms around the miniature version of Fenrir, her head pressed into his fur, while her brother and the shrunken Gogmagog stood over her.

Two figures stood in the center of the room, almost seeming unaffected by the story.

The first was Ophis, who had remained in place this entire time, not reacting to anything with her head tilted and gaze distant.

Sona wasn't unaffected, but she hadn't moved. She had remained in one spot without budging, looking down at Mikasa this entire time. She shed no tears, and only the occasional change of expression belied any internal torment as she kept prodding Mikasa to continue.

Serafall wanted to pull her sister into her arms, whispering that everything would be okay and that this world was nowhere near as cruel as the one Mikasa came from.

She couldn't, though. Because what Sona needed right now was to hear everything. To face it herself.

So-tan was growing into such a fine woman, and Serafall couldn't be prouder.

If it only didn't involve so much pain.

"What, exactly, did you discover in that basement," Sona pressed.

So Mikasa continued her tale. This time, she spoke of the outside world: the history of the Eldian Empire, its fall to civil war, the king's flight to Paradis, and the ghettos Eldians were forced into in other nations. She also spoke of their lives of military service, indoctrination, and oppression.

She spoke of Grisha Yeager, a boy who yearned to see the outside world only to have his kid sister torn apart by dogs when they were caught leaving their confined zone.

She spoke of the man who grew up to lead a restoration movement, a man who married a descendant of royal blood and had a son—a son they tried to indoctrinate in their own way, foisting their hopes and dreams on.

A son who sold them out to Marley.

"The Grisha I knew was nothing like that," Mikasa said with a shake of her head. "He was a kind man. One who only wanted what was best for us. He had learned from his mistakes. He was the Attack Titan for years, but he never tried to do anything but save people. I think he only transformed once or twice in his entire life."

"But when he did, when he lost his second wife, he killed a family to get the power needed to right the wrong," Azazel said with a wry smile. "I can't blame him. I've done worse when some of my lovers were killed."

"Azazel-sensei?" Issei asked, horrified.

"I've had wives, Ise. I told you," the fallen said with a shrug filled with false nonchalance. "Lovers. Even a harem a time or two. But times haven't always been as good as they are now. So, yes, I've destroyed families in revenge."

Most eyes were on the teacher and student, so most missed how Mikasa's fists tightened.

Serafall and Sona did not.

"What happened next?"

Mikasa told of Grisha's rescue by the Attack Titan of the time, Eren Kruger, but not before Dina had been turned into a Pure Titan. The Smiling Titan.

Sona looked like she might interrupt for a moment, but she swallowed her words with a frown and let Mikasa continue.

Finally, Mikasa reached the point where she talked about the dreams Eren started having and the Attack Titan's actual ability.

"Wait," Issei stopped her. "Eren can see the future?"

"No," Mikasa denied instantly. "It's just memories. All Shifters inherit memories from their predecessors, but the Attack Titan allows its wielders to send their own back. They can only do this in a way that ensures that the time they are living in is the future of previous Attack Titans. Eren Kruger saw memories of Grisha Yeager, and they contained a message to Eren Yeager, but Kruger had no idea who they were about or what they meant. But because he saw them, he took actions that would lead to the future we lived."

"But... couldn't Eren have sent memories back that would make it so the bad things didn't happen?"

"No," Sona answered Gasper's question instead of Mikasa. "If events didn't happen, Eren wouldn't have memories of them to send back, making those timelines impossible to exist. It's not time travel. It's just a different way of experiencing time as a medium. Instead of 1-2-3 like we do, it is 3-2-1. The numbers are all the same, just the order is different."

Quite a few audience members looked confused, but Azazel had a separate realization that nobody else did.

"If that ability really works like that," the governor of the Grigori said as he rubbed his chin. "Then the final holder of the Attack Titan would be the one with the most power. They would be able to nudge all those who came before. Since he still has it, I imagine Eren Yeager was the final Attack Titan in your world? It didn't pass on to someone else with his death?"

"We can't say how it worked for certain," Mikasa shook her head. "All we know is what Eren told us about it and a few notes in Grisha's journal. The literal translation is 'Advancing Giant.' They claimed it was called the Attack Titan because it was one of the Nine that always advanced toward freedom, never submitting to anyone, not even the Founder. Though we can't confirm the last part."

"So, was it like that by design? Or, as the final Attack Titan, did Eren send memories back to make it like that?" Rias asked, worrying her lip in thought.

"We can't say for sure," Mikasa said helplessly. "Most of these are theories Armin came up with later. Still, it would explain why it was lost with the fall of the Eldian Empire. Its host at the time did not need to follow Fritz's command. Armin also thought it might be the Attack Titan Eldia was trying to replicate with the Ackerman genetic manipulation and might be why the Founder can't control us, but that is just speculation. We have no way to know."

"'Advancing toward freedom,'" Akeno let out a mirthless chuckle. "'Never submitting.' That sounds like Eren, alright."

"That was also the first time we heard of the Rumbling," Mikasa muttered. "The Walls, on top of trying to keep us 'safe' and ignorant, were supposed to be a threat from King Fritz. If anyone tried to attack Paradis, he'd unleash the millions of Colossal Titans and crush the world flat."

"So Senpai didn't come up with it himself," Yuuto nodded as if something that bugged him had been settled.

"It was an empty threat," Mikasa explained wearily. "Fritz had taken a vow of nonviolence and bound it to his bloodline. He would rather let the world destroy us while he lived in his private kingdom than let the Eldian Empire be rebuilt. The rest of the world didn't know that, though, and the Rumbling was the only reason we hadn't been completely invaded by Marley."

"But Eren was not bound by that vow," Akeno noted.

"He wasn't, but he also couldn't use the Founder without the aid of the royal bloodline. But Eren had no control, and Historia was our only royal, so we couldn't risk her. No matter what, we weren't just going to lay down and die like Fritz wanted, so we spent the next few years learning all we could of the world and our place in it."

Mikasa spoke briefly about those years of wiping out the last Pure Titans on Paradis and how they had reclaimed their lost land within Maria. She spoke longingly of seeing the sea for the first time and how beautiful it was.

And how Eren had changed.

"We thought it was just all the information we had received, that the revelation of the time limit, what Grisha had done, and the nature of the world outside the Walls had worn him down. He had always been passionate before then. He fought with others, got mad or happy or acted up. But after the basement and the reward ceremony that followed... he was quiet, lost in his thoughts more than ever."

Vali and Arthur shared a look that went unnoticed by most, one of familiarity. Serafall didn't miss it, though. She supposed that made sense. They knew the 'Eren' from after his death. Hearing him as he was when he was young was probably the weirder part for them.

"We finally killed the Pure Titans. We finally explored beyond the Walls. We finally saw the sea, which we had been yearning for, yet... Eren couldn't be happy. Not knowing what was out there. The sea was just another Wall to him, with enemies beyond waiting to invade and destroy his home," Mikasa drew in a deep breath, fists tightening around her scarf in anger once more.

"And then we received a message from his brother Zeke. We hatched a plan. Using Eren and Zeke, we were going to unleash The Rumbling."

Mikasa saw the faces of surprise around the room.

"That's right, we were first to suggest the Rumbling, not Eren."

Mikasa stopped them from interrupting with an explanation.

"Not completely, but we would use a city's worth of the Wall as a deterrent against the other nations in the world. A threat and an example. A way to buy our nation time since we were a century behind everyone else in technology."

"And your society would need to adapt as well," Azazel nodded along, rubbing his chin in thought. "The civilians would need to learn of the truth. The governmental structure required stabilization. Even if you had Eren and Armin as threats, they couldn't be the sole backbone of a nation confined to the Walls for a century. Not when Marley still had the other Titans. The logistics alone, negotiations between you and other countries, would take years."

"We needed time," Mikasa nodded. "If the other nations learned of the vow or Eren's inability to use the Founder without royal blood, then we'd be doomed. The Warriors knew he had Founder, and they knew he had used it once. Marley would not have given us time to restructure our society. We only had the time we did because they got caught up in another of their wars of expansion. Before they could focus on us, we needed time to become a nation that could stand independently, and the Rumbling was our answer."

Serafall pulled her friend tighter into her arms as, for the first time, her voice cracked slightly.

"Eren hated it," Mikasa confessed. "He hated the Rumbling. He kept pushing for another way, any other solution that wouldn't involve the Rumbling. We didn't know it then, but he had been reaching out to us, trying to find any hope. Any solution but the Rumbling. I don't know if there was one, but we couldn't find it. Most didn't even look for one. Why bother when we have Eren Yeager, the Founder and an expendable source of royal blood? We let him down. We let him down so much."

Nobody said anything as Mikasa took a deep breath and recomposed herself.

"And that was our final sin. We could not devise a solution that didn't involve the Rumbling. We could give him hope for a better future. We would do the same thing as Marley, as the old Eldian Empire. We would use Titans to terrify the world into getting what we want. The higher-ups of the military even wanted to feed Eren to Historia to rejoin the Founder with the royalty. Once she had a few kids, and her term was almost up, they'd feed her to her children, and the cycle would continue."

"'Senpai hates Titans,'" Issei quoted with clenched fists. "'More than anyone else ever born, Senpai hates Titans.' You said that. Senpai... he wouldn't allow someone he cared about to go through that."

Mikasa's following sentence was so quiet and muffled in her scarf that nobody would have heard it unless they had supernatural hearing.

"We had become exactly the type of monsters the world accused us of being."

"Eren wouldn't allow that," Akeno agreed with Issei, bitter confidence in her voice.

"No. He wouldn't," Mikasa shook her head and met the half-fallies eyes. "When they really started to push for that option, Eren had no choice but to push forward with his own plan. Coincidentally," Everyone could hear the bitter sarcasm in Mikasa's voice. "Historia ended up married and pregnant at this time. Eren had told her of his plan, and they conceived a way to buy time for him. She was the only one who knew his plan."

Serafall wondered at her Pawn's choice of words. Had Mi-chan intended it to sound like it did, or was that just her reading too much into things?

"What was his plan if he was so opposed to the Rumbling," Vali asked, crossing his arms.

Mikasa told them how Eren and Zeke had been secretly trading messages and about Beast Titan's plan to solve the 'Eldian Problem' by sterilizing every Eldian with the Founder.

Within a generation, there would be no more Titans because no children would be left to inherit them.

"That is..." Rias couldn't form the words at the thought.

"Horrible," Serafall though, couldn't hold it in.

She placed herself in that situation, in a world where devil children weren't born.

A world where she could never have held So-tan's small form in her arms.

A world where she had never become Miracle Girl Levi-tan to see a small girl's smile.

A world where Serafall Leviathan had never held hope for the future and she remained the woman forever trapped in the memories of a war against her own people.

Serafall would rather die than live in such a world.

"It was," Mikasa agreed. "It might be better for the world than the Rumbling but not for Eldia. Not for us."

Mikasa then spoke of their final attempt to find another option. They went to Marley to scout it out and see if there truly was no hope of reconciliation between Marley and Eldia.

"It was amazing." Despite her words, Mikasa did not sound amazed. She sounded helpless. "To hear people who have never seen a titan in their lives, who had never struggled with starvation, who had never seen someone they love torn apart and eaten... To hear those people cry out that we all needed to die, to be exterminated, when they had never met us... It was too much for Eren. He started his plan. He left us, and we didn't see him for months."

"He went to find Zeke," So-tan said.

"Yes. We learned about this later, but at this time, Eren disguised himself as an injured vet. It wasn't hard. Eldians were forcefully conscripted by Marley for their wars against the other nations of the world, and plenty suffered war wounds. It gave him access to the Eldian district, Liberio, where he could meet Zeke and Falco, a young Warrior aspirant training to be the one to inherit the Armour Titan from Reiner."

Mikasa spent some time talking about Marley, the warrior program, and Falco and Gabi, two teenage soldiers who wanted to inherit the Titans.

"Why would they want to?" Xenovia asked doubtfully, arms crossed. "Like Ise said, nothing good comes from them."

"Ideology and benefits," Mikasa said bitterly. "Warriors and their families got special privileges that other Eldians didn't. And they were kids. They had been told their entire lives that becoming a Warrior was an honour, a privilege. They were taught to hate themselves as Eldians and that the only way to become a 'Good Eldian' was to dedicate themselves to Marley and fight the 'Evil Eldians' like us Island Devils."

"Original Sin," Azazel said, running a tired hand through his hair. "Where your very birth is something to be ashamed of, and you need to dedicate yourself to making up for that 'sin.'"

"It's why they targeted children. They are easy to brainwash the young before they see proof that the world is not black and white."

So-tan gave her a worried look, and Serafall felt a twinge of shame. She hadn't meant to say it out loud, but it had slipped out. Mikasa's story was pulling way too many memories up.

Memories of four young devils who had discovered that everything their ancestors had taught them were lies and the choice they made to try and change their world for their people's own good.

Memories of the frozen corpses of other young devils, no older than her, staring back through the ice with accusing eyes.

Ah. Cute thoughts. Cute thoughts.

Pew pew! Let So-tan's cuteness purify these un-cute thoughts!

Thankfully, Serafall regained her center as Mikasa took the story back up.

Eren's disappearance had naturally made everyone panic, and they had spent months searching for him. Then, they received his letter, claiming he needed to be rescued, along with Zeke, from Marley. To do so, they followed his plan to attack Marley, ensuring peace was no longer possible.

"He knew we'd come for him," Mikasa said vacantly. "Every other time he had been kidnapped, we had. He was our hope, our salvation, so we went to rescue him. We attacked Liberio during a festival. We fought soldiers, of course, but most who died weren't even Marlian. They were Eldian. Civilians."

"That must be after... that night," Akeno whispered in her King's ears, and Rias nodded grimly, her eyes narrowed on Mikasa.

"Armin... he transformed into the Colossal in the port, destroying their ships... and thousands of innocent lives. He had nightmares about that night, even years later. Told me he had never been happier that his Titan didn't have ears, so he couldn't hear the screams."

"So I was right," Kuroka said, not sounding happy in the slightest. "He really did set off a war."

"It was his declaration of war," Mikasa nodded but then shook her head right after. "But he didn't just do it for that. He did it because he needed the last keys to his plan. Zeke, of course, and the Warhammer Titan's powers, but also Falco and Gabi. Those two were key. The last pieces he needed."

So-tan hitched her breath, and Serafall looked at her with worry, but her eyes were laser-focused on Mikasa.

"...They got on the airship. We were celebrating our success. We had Eren back, even if we did place him under arrest for his actions. We had Zeke. We could start the Rumbling test whenever we wanted. Only a few of us had died, and we disabled a major part of the Marlian military invasion force with the explosion at the port. Despite everything... we had won. Why wouldn't we be happy? We didn't notice the stowaways..."

Mikasa's voice hitched at the end, and she stopped talking.

"Tell me," Sona demanded. "Tell me why Sasha died."

Mikasa's eyes widened in shock as they rose to meet her niece's, but Sona didn't blink.

"Gabi... she had a rifle. Shot Sasha in the chest..." Mikasa said softly, looking away from the young woman. "She died quickly, but not before asking for meat one last time..." Mikasa let out a little hiccup that might have been a laugh or sob. "It was just so... Sasha. We couldn't believe it. Sasha, who had gone through everything with us, who had survived Trost, the coup, and Shinganshina? Sasha dead? Because of Eren? It didn't seem real."

Sona's fists clenched, and Serafall knew her sister well enough to know that she was holding back a question to let Mikasa continue.

"Both Gabi and Falco were caught, of course. We weren't kind to them, but we didn't kill them, no matter how much some of us wanted to. We told Eren. Told him what this news rescue had cost. And he laughed. Just... laughed."

Serafall could imagine it all too easily. She had met plenty of mad men who, when confronted with the consequences of their actions on others, had just laughed. Because they didn't care.

But... that didn't sound like the boy Mikasa loved.

"We couldn't believe it," Mikasa muttered. "Eren hadn't just changed. He was almost unrecognizable to us. The boy who charged the Female Titan in a rage when his comrades died was laughing at Sasha's death? That was where the idea began, I think. That Zeke had done something to him. Changed him. The 'Eren' we knew could never do this, so it must be Zeke's fault."

Mikasa buried her head in her arms again.

"We never understood Eren. We thought we did, but we didn't."

Mikasa spoke of the days following the attack on Marley, of imprisoning Eren since he couldn't be trusted anymore and keeping Zeke separate from him to prevent him from using the Founder.

She told them of their military's decision to feed Eren to someone else, someone more compliant.

Mikasa's story diverged a bit as she spoke of Gabi and Falco's escape from their confinement, their encounter with Sasha's family and Marlian lover as they tried to escape to freedom.

The stories converged again when Eren escaped with the Yeagerist's insurrection. She explained the spiked wine that allowed Zeke to turn the drinkers into Pure Titans, freeing himself to try to meet up with Eren.

She told them that Falco had ingested some when it was discovered that he and Gabi were the ones responsible for Sasha's death.

"Eren was doing everything he could to make us his enemies," Mikasa said, tightening her hold on her scarf again. "We were confused. Hurt. Enemies and allies were changing every few seconds. And then Marley invaded with their remaining Shifters."

Serafall could imagine that part all too well. Half the current Pillar families had been enemies of the New Satans at one point or another. Almost every family had members on both sides of the Civil War.

Today's enemy was yesterday's ally and tomorrow's traitor.

"It was a melee, where we tried to protect Eren and fight the invaders while Zeke and him tried to reach each other. Zeke used his ability to turn those who drank the wine into Pure Titans, Falco included. The Jaw Titan, injured in the battle, sacrificed himself to turn Falco back, but Gabi had a rifle."

Mikasa shook her head, almost in disbelief.

"Even if she was... better, for lack of a better word, Eren had still killed her friends. Destroyed her home. So... she shot him. Right when he and Zeke were about to touch, she shot his head off with a high-powered rifle. Severed his spine and all. In the confusion, moments away from failure, with barely any time to aim... it was a one-in-a-million shot."

Mikasa said it vacantly like she was reliving watching Eren's death.

"But Zeke caught Eren's head. Decapitation is fatal even to a Shifter, but it is not instant death even to a regular human. A little over ten seconds, that's how long it takes someone to die after losing their head. Eren was still alive when they touched. And he activated the Founder."

"Okay," Bikou interrupted before Mikasa could say anything more. "I can guess where this is going, but before we get there and you absolutely destroy my emotional stability for the next decade or so, I just want to give respect where it was due."

Everyone in the room stared at him blankly.

"Like, don't get me wrong, Eren was always a badass. He'd kick our butts up and down the field in training. But getting your head shot off and still pulling through is some next-level stuff. I just want to take a moment to appreciate it."

Half the room blinked at the descendent of the Monkey King in surprised stupefaction at the complete non sequitur.

The other half knew what he was doing when they noticed his surreptitious look toward the despondent Le Fay.

The story was nothing short of depressing and bleak. What few moments of happiness there were were few and far between, followed by more misery.

They knew how it ended. Mikasa had already told them the result of The Rumbling, and now they were just going to listen to the specifics.

Bikou was, in his own way, trying to bolster the spirits of the younger members by making light of the situation.

Serafall felt a surge of appreciation for the boy. As she told the story, Serafall had let herself be swept up in Mi-chan's pain and loss.

"Puey," Miracle Girl Levi-tan pretended to spit to the side. "It's not that cool. If he was really awesome, he wouldn't have been shot at all. Used that Warhammer thingy to block the bullet. Real badasses don't get hurt by bullets, no matter how many or how strong. It's the law."

"What law?" Asia, bless her pure heart, asked completely guilelessly. Her eyes were still red-rimmed, but she latched on to the distraction.

"The Law of 'Immune to Bullets!'"

Asia looked confused, and, finally tearing her eyes away from Mi-chan, So-tan couldn't hold it in anymore.

"Narrative tropes are not laws!" So-tan said in exasperation.

"I agree with Lady Leviathan," Rias said, trying to smile. She failed, and it came out as more of a grimace, but Serafall beamed at the redhead at the attempt. Now, if only she would call her Levi-tan. "Anime is totally real. Therefore, laws of storytelling are real too."

"Even now?" Akeno asked her King with fond exasperation. "You just can't help yourself, can you, you weeaboo."

"Japanese Otaku, thank you," Rias tried to say imperiously, and this time, her smile was just a bit more real.

Serafall kept a side eye on Mikasa as the room descended into a pointless argument on which, if any, tropes should be considered natural Law.

Initially, the Pawn had just looked confused, almost hurt, at the digression from her story.

But Mikasa wasn't an idiot.

Serafall could see the moment Mikasa realized what was happening as her eyes widened slightly. Her eyes flickered from Serafall to Rias, to Akeno, to Bikou, to Kuroka, to Yuuto, to Azazel, and then to Sona. All the ones keeping the silly momentum going whenever silence lulled.

A look of gratefulness flashed through Mikasa's eyes before she closed them.

Taking a steadying breath, she steadied herself, regaining her center after the last hour or so of recounting some of the most harrowing moments of her life.

Nobody here was ungrateful to Mikasa, and even those just meeting her for the first time tonight could see how her tale affected her. As they neared the end, giving her a moment to recompose herself was the least they could do.

Eventually, though, the story needed to go on.

Looking more put together than in the last hour, Mikasa interrupted a heated debate between Le Fay and Serafall over whether 'Witches are/aren't Magical Girls.'

"He planned it, you know." The argument cut off, and all eyes returned to the former soldier. "Getting shot. Eren planned for it to happen. Needed it to happen. That was why Sasha died, so Falco could become the Jaw Titan, and Gabi could shoot his head off."

"There's no way he planned something like that," Xenovia shook her head in disbelief. "That's way too specific, way too many variables. Not even Azazel could plan something like that."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"And why would he even plan to be decapitated," the former exorcist asked, ignoring the fallen. "If he was that smart, he should have been able to plan some way to meet with Zeke without having to go to such lengths."

"Eren is no stranger to self-mutilation, and this was the best way he could think of to show us what we needed to do," Mikasa said, and then she shook her head. "I am getting ahead myself. For now, I need to tell you about Ymir and The Paths."

Mikasa told them the story of a girl, a slave, who had freed a pig and been hunted by her tribal owners for sport. She told them how the dying girl had fallen into a cave at the roots of a great tree, and there, a parasite had bonded to her.

Mikasa knew nothing about the creature, just that it turned Ymir into the first Titan.

There were frowns all around the room as she told them how Ymir returned to her masters and used her powers to turn a small tribe into the basis of what would become the Eldian Empire. Nobody could stand against the Founder, and eventually, Ymir married the king and had three children.

It was not a love story, though, and when Ymir died, the king, fearing the loss of his power, ordered her children to eat her corpse in hopes of gaining that power again.

From those first three daughters, a bloodline that could dominate the world was born from Ymir. And so were countless generations of people forced to live in the shadow of titans.

Ymir, though, found herself trapped by her own power in a pseudo-information-dimension. A power that connected her to everyone with her bloodline, past, present, and future. She was bound to the bloodline of the king she loved and hated.

And so she toiled, building Titans out of sand in the Paths for two thousand years under the control of whatever royal had the Founder in a world where time had no meaning yet forever flowed.

"We don't know exactly what happened in the Paths when Eren and Zeke touched, but we got the general premise," Mikasa said. "If Zeke had his way, he would have ordered Ymir to sterilize every Eldian. We were afraid Eren planned to go along with that terrible idea but hoped he'd stick to our deterrence plan with the Rumbling. Zeke tried to convince Eren that his was the best plan by showing him what Grisha had done, that Eren was being manipulated by their father. It backfired."

Mikasa's smile was small, fond, and filled with pain.

"Grisha... he really was the man we knew as kids. He had given up his ambitions, revenge, and everything to ensure his family lived long, happy lives. Even after Carla's death, after confronting the royal family and learning they planned to let everyone die rather than try and stop it, he couldn't bring himself to kill them. He was a good man. He couldn't kill women and children just for power."

Sona's eyes widened. She was the only one who could piece things together before Mikasa's explanation continued.

"But Eren... Eren could. And he was the Attack Titan and the Founder. So he spoke to Grisha through both. He used the memories of seeing his sister torn apart, of Dina's fate, of Carla's fate, to stir Grisha into a frenzy. Frieda Reiss couldn't actually win, even if she could put up some resistance. Fritz's vow of peace still bound her. She died, along with her mother and siblings. And the future was secure. Zeke realized he couldn't convince Eren after that. They fought. Eren won. He freed Ymir of the bonds the royal family placed on her."

"And this all happened in the Paths," Kuroka nodded thoughtfully. "Where time passes, but doesn't."

"It all happened in the instant Zeke caught Eren's head. We only learned about it later," Mikasa nodded her head. "All we saw was an enormous spine, a centipede-like creature, burst from Eren's severed neck and reconnected it to his head. We saw the lighting of his transformation, and we felt the ground rumbling as the Walls fell. Again, some of us hoped Eren had chosen to continue with deterrence."

"But he had his own plan," Sona said with a narrowed gaze. "He used you, Zeke, and everyone else for that plan. To unleash the complete Rumbling.

"It wasn't just the Walls around the city that fell," Mikasa nodded wearily. "It was all of them. Eren had unleashed the full might of the Rumbling. He used the Founder to create a new Titan, a massive creature of bone, hundreds of meters tall. He used it to lead the Wall Titans to crush the world."

"Why did he do it," Rias asked, biting her finger again. Blood flowed, but she paid it no mind. "Why didn't he just use the Founder to save the city, then destroy the invaders? That should have solved the problem."

"The immediate one," Azazel shook his head. "But Eren only had a few years left. Even if he destroyed this invasion, what about the ones after he's dead? And would anyone let him and Zeke touch again? He likely saw this as the only chance he'd have."

"But billions of people?" Irina denied. "Couldn't he just, I don't know, target the military or something? There is no reason to kill that many innocent people. They hadn't done anything to him!"

Mikasa didn't answer, just picking up the story again.

"Eren used the Founder to speak to all the subjects of Ymir, all over the world," Mikasa continued. "He told us all that his only goal was to protect Paradis, but the rest of the world wanted them exterminated. He rejected that wish. So he'd trample the rest of the world flat instead to protect his home. For us. We would be the ones to benefit from that genocide."

"So you fought him."

"No." Eyebrows rose in surprise at Mikasa's denial. "We couldn't. Logistically, we had no way to reach him, let alone fight him. He was huge, and our only Titan was Armin. Falco had just turned back into a human and had no idea what was happening. Against all the Wall Titans, each a Colossal Titan themselves? We'd just be crushed, like everything else. But..."

Mikasa paused, seeming to search for the right words.

"Honestly, none of us even thought of stopping him at first. He was... Eren. Our friend. Our comrade. And he was doing it for us. All we had to do was sit back and let him do it, and we'd be safe. No more fear of invasion. No more alienation. Just let Eren keep walking forward, and we'd win."

"But you couldn't do that," Serafall said with surety. "Even if you benefited from the Rumbling, you couldn't let it continue. Even if you had to fight Eren."

"...The scouts were never about 'Eldia.' We fought and died because we believed in a better future for humanity. Most died without ever knowing humanity even existed beyond the Walls. A better future would not come from the slaughter of everyone that didn't live on Paradis."

Mikasa looked into Serafall's eyes before sweeping around the room.

"We were not the good guys," she said firmly. "It was us that wanted to use the Rumbling first, even if limited. It was us who turned to the power of Titans, just like every other nation, irrespective of the suffering involved. It was us who pilled all our hopes, our dreams, and our future on Eren's back, and we could not provide him with any plan for a better future. Eren chose to start the Rumbling, but we were not the good guys. We were just as guilty as everyone else involved, maybe more so."

For the first time in over an hour of talking, Mikasa gently shook off Serafall's arm to stand up. Serafall did the same, though she stepped away slightly to give Mikasa space.

"But... we each had reasons why we couldn't let the Rumbling continue. Duty. Revenge against Zeke. Saving family that the Rumbling would kill. Stopping Eren from doing something he'd regret. And guilt. So much guilt. We never wanted to people. We didn't join the military to kill people. We... Even if they were enemy nations, none of us could have lived with ourselves if we didn't try, one last time, to fight for humanity as a whole."

Mikasa stared off into space.

"None of us were saints. We just had things we dedicated our hearts to that we couldn't let go of... Some of us just took longer to realize it than others."

Mikasa spoke of the race against the clock as days passed, the Rumbling destroying more and more as they hurried to gather all the allies they could for a confrontation against Eren. Even enemies, like the Warriors or a recently freed Annie, were enlisted to help.

It wasn't without opposition, though. The Yeagerists were more than willing to let Eren complete the Rumbling.

So they fought and killed their former comrades as they tried to reach the plane that could take them to Eren.

Eventually, they left Paradis, and they prepared to stop Eren.

But... they didn't know how to do that. Were they just going to kill him?


Ultimately, it was decided they should try and find Zeke. Killing him would halt Eren's ability to use the Founder, stopping the Rumbling.

But... Annie had given up any resistance with the destruction of Liberio and the presumed death of her father, and Falco was too untrained to reliably help, so they remained behind.

Mikasa was light on the details of the final battle, just telling them that Eren had used the Warhammer Titan to recreate previous versions of Titan Shifters they had to fight against.

They almost lost if not for the arrival of Annie and Falco, who had been able to fly thanks to the influence of the Beast Titan he received from Zeke's tainted wine.

Afterward, Armin connected to the Paths to discover Zeke and convince him to let Levi kill him to stop Eren.

The Rumbling stopped with the destruction of Eren's White Titan and the ejection of the parasite they had seen when Eren was decapitated.

"That was it," Mikasa said, her voice cracking. "The Rumbling was over. And we didn't have to kill Eren to do it... It was a delusion, more than anything. Even if he'd lived, he still would have been executed, or the Yeagerists would have continued to push for him to finish the job. But still... Eren could stop. He didn't need to die. We could talk to him. Convince him somehow."

Mikasa swallowed wetly, her head pressed against the wall, and she stared blankly at the ceiling as she told the end of her story.

"Eren... didn't stop," she rasped, voice muffled from her arm. "He might not be able to control the other Titans without the parasite, but Ymir was no longer bound. He transformed again into a Colossal Titan, marching forward to reunite with the wormlike creature and continue his genocidal plan."

"Always walking forward," Akeno's voice was just as hollow as Mikasa's. "No matter how much you hate it, you must walk forward. It's all we can do."

"Reiner and the other Shifters tried to destroy the creature," Mikasa continued despite the interruption. "It fought back, turning all the Eldians nearby into Pure Titans, Jean and Connie included. Armin, as the Colossal Titan, was holding Eren back single-handedly. Everyone was moments away from failing, from the resumption of the Rumbling and the death of everyone we had managed to save so far. I was the only one left who could do anything. Just me. And I knew where he'd be. Just knew it."

Mikasa stopped talking.

Nobody said anything.

A haunting silence filled the room.

Then it was broken.

"He wasn't in the nape, or he'd have died with the White Titan. He was in his Titan's mouth," Mikasa spoke hollowly, her voice empty as fists tightened around her scarf and an imaginary blade. "It was... Easy. A thunder spear to open a hole in. And then... swish. One cut. Eren saw me, but he didn't fight me. Didn't switch his consciousness location to try to save himself. He just... died."

Mikasa drew in a shaky breath.

"When he did, the parasite died as well. All the Pure Titans turned back to normal. The shifters couldn't transform anymore. I had killed him. I had stopped The Rumbling. There were no more Titans. All because I killed Eren."


One or two more to go, I think. This one mostly covered after the time skip, which I know is highly controversial, so I'm expecting some... discussions.

I want to clarify one point I've seen in the comments of the last few chapters. I do not want to say that I believe Eren and Historia were lovers (though Isayama left that vague). I do, however, believe that Mikasa would noted their closeness and the timing of her pregnancy and have her suspicions.

Mikasa and Eren are highly jealous characters, yet simultaneously, they want what is best for the other and are increadibly self-sacrificing. That dichotomy would tear Mikasa up inside because she would never seek to have her suspicions confirmed or disproved, leading to the idea remaining with her for her entire life.

Either way, I will meet you all tomorrow on the bench.


PPS: It has actually been increadibly cathartic to write. It's just a lot of work.
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Great chapter! Serafall and Azazel's thoughts and reactions are so interesting to see as they are the most likely in the group to understand and sympathize with Mikasa and Eren, but you don't usually get to see either one in a more serious light, (like with Serafall having what seemed to be almost ptsd flashbacks), as in most stories they are whacky and silly so it's an interesting to see a view of them as characters that is so different. See you tomorrow on the bench.
The oppressive silence returned.

It was Sona who broke it.

"Why," Sona pressed, an intense look on her face.

"So-tan," Serafall chided gently. "Mi-chan just told you why she did it. I know Eren is-"

"Not that!" Sona snapped at her sister, and Serafall recoiled as if struck.

Sona ignored the look of pain and refocused on Mikasa.

"I get why he became the man he did, I followed the story, but pieces are missing. Pieces you've been avoiding. And it has to do with Eren's plan. Why did he choose that end? Because he did choose it. Not just The Rumbling, but he chose to die. Akeno knows something."

The Queen bit her lip and looked away.

"And you've left enough hints that something else was going on. So tell me!"


Serafall's heart broke a little as her sister, who had stayed strong and focused this entire time, finally broke her hold on her pride.

The tears started to fall.

"Please," Sona begged wetly, her voice cracking. "Please let me understand. I promised Eren. I promised him. But I don't. Not yet. So please tell me why. Why did he choose that future? A billion and a half!" Sona exclaimed with a helpless expression. "A billion and a half. Why did he choose that? I just don't get it! So why!?"

Mikasa pulled Sona into a tight hug as the younger girl cried.

Serafall glared around the room to get the others to look away to save So-tan's pride from further damage.

Icy mist fogged the air, and Vali and his team suddenly found the floor very interesting.

"I was going to tell you," Mikasa said quietly to her niece. "I promised him as well. I was just... this is hard, Sona. Talking about it is hard. And this next part... It's even harder. For a lot of reasons."

"I know," Sona whispered, hugging the older woman tightly. "I know. But if I'm going to understand... If I am going to teach about your world, I need to know everything."

Mikasa took a deep breath, pulled away from Sona, and gave her a nod.

She faced the rest of the room again.

"This next part... It is the most confusing part of the story," Mikasa spoke, and the room refocused on her. "So much of this is guesswork, piecing things together, and looking back. I... We had no idea how much of it was true and might be purely our ideals and for our self-satisfaction. But, like you, we tried to understand why things happened."

"There were holes," Azazel nodded, listing points on his fingers. "Too many coincidences with Eren's plan. What was the nature of the creature parasite? Why did its death lead to all the Titans disappearing? If it did, why can Eren still use his abilities? How did he know Falco would be able to fly? And, if he had the Founder, why did he not stop any Eldian from fighting him? He would have won. With that power, he could have lived the rest of his life without fear of reprisals."

"Eren would never do that," Rias said with complete confidence. "Forcing other people, controlling them like that, would go against everything he believes in."

"You know him well," Mikasa gave the redhead a thin smile before addressing the room. "I've told the story from our perspective. One event after another. We were in the dark, trying to understand the world, Eren's plan, everything really. There is another way to listen to the story. Eren's perspective. Only by having both can you begin to understand why Eren chose the end that he did."

"Why would his perspective differ from yours," Sona asked with narrowed eyes.

"Because Eren knew how the story would end," Mikasa said seriously. "This information comes from piecing together clues and accounts from after Eren's death, with one exception. Eren had talked to Armin in the Paths when he started The Rumbling but had wiped it from his mind using the Founder. He... couldn't do the same for me because the Founder can't control my memories as an Ackerman. He told Armin about his plan, The Rumbling, Ymir and what would happen. He could do this because of how the powers of the Attack Titan mixed with the Founder."

"You rated it as the most dangerous," Akeno acknowledged with a frown. "Alone, it's weak for a Shifter, but with the Founder, it would make Eren the strongest. Why?"

"The Founder connects to every Eldian through their bloodline, letting its host control them, see through their eyes, and manipulate their memories. A limited form of omniscience." Mikasa looked deadly serious as she watched the room. "All Shifters gain memories from their predecessors. The Attack Titan lets its host receive memories from the future. Together, Eren could see the past, present, and future."

Everybody sat up at that, even Serafall.

Any sort of clairvoyant ability was taken deadly seriously in the supernatural community. A few gods had limited omniscience of either their area or domains. This usually manifested as the ability to know everything in their direct area, like a person's thoughts, which they used to predict what would happen.

Still, the ability to see the future, or even a hint of it, was so rare that there was only one confirmed case of anyone ever having it to a degree comparable to what Mikasa was talking about.

And Serafall couldn't say His name.

Perhaps if the information hadn't been so shocking, someone might have noticed that the surprise on Kuroka and Team Vali's faces was a touch too exaggerated.

"Not just see. He was there. From the first second the Paths were created till their end. Eren saw and experienced everything any Eldian had ever experienced. He had no future. He had no past. It was all the same to him from when he had contact with Zeke."

"So Eren really did time travel?" Issei asked in confused wonder.


Serafall's eyes whipped toward Sona at the sound of her voice. Something had been in it that should never have been in So-tan's voice.


"Not time travel." Sona had gone completely pale. "It's a time loop. One that never ends for the person involved, even as time passes regularly on the outside."

"A stable time loop," Azazel breathed out in amazement. "That's how he had such an intricate plan. He had already succeeded and was just setting up the pieces to reach victory. A literal self-fulfilling prophecy."

"I... don't get it," Asia admitted sheepishly, eyes still red from tears.

"Remember that '1-2-3' and '3-2-1' example earlier," Rossweiss asked, and a few of the audience members nodded. "This is someone who is at 1 and, 2 and 3 at the same time. So they can make sure they happen in the order they want."

"Not just that," Mikasa shook her head. "From what Armin could piece together, Eren could also see 'what if' scenarios. Futures that didn't exist. Eren simply chose the one he wanted."

"Why'd he choose such a terrible one," Xenovia asked, though her tone was gentler than when Mikasa had started her story.

"He needed it to be stable," Azazel hypothesized. "Which means he could only make decisions that would lead to the moment he first got the power. Only after that could he really change things. Otherwise, he wouldn't have gained the power in the first place. He couldn't change anything that would prevent his birth. He couldn't change becoming a Shifter with the Attack Titan and Founder. And he couldn't change that... he'd need..." Azazel trailed off, looking lost in thought. "There's a problem here. A hole. Why didn't he gain the power when he first touched Dina?"

"The requirements for the royal bloodline," Mikasa gave the fallen a look of grudging respect. "This is one of the things Armin thought of later, so I only have his guesses. Zeke pulled Eren into the Paths, where he freed Ymir. Every other time he touched someone that could activate the Founder, he could use it, yes, but Ymir was still bound, and Eren wasn't in The Paths to free her. He had no idea what he was doing. So the Eren that met with Zeke needed to be the one to start the Rumbling, not an earlier version. Though, it could be another reason."

"Still," Azazel frowned. "That doesn't answer why he didn't set things up in such a way to be in contact with Zeke when he left you in Marley."

"Because he had other goals than the Rumbling," Yuuto answered, just as confident as Rias had been earlier. "It was just a tangential thing. A tool to get the ending he wanted. He wanted to ensure his friends had a happy life, right?"

"...As far as we can tell, Eren had three goals," Mikasa muttered, hands caressing her scarf absently. "Revenge. Our safety and happiness. And the complete annihilation of Titans from our world. He had two limits. The fact that his omniscience was limited to Eldians and that he couldn't see beyond his death."

"If he could see the future through the bloodline, he should have been able to see through your or other's eyes," Akeno pointed out. "Even after he... you know."

"No." Sona denied again, her face as pale as it had ever been, but Serafall was glad the despair was gone from her voice. In its place was a grim understanding. "Because to remove Titans from the world, he needed to destroy the Paths themselves. And to do that, Eren, as the Founder, had to die. Eren would only choose a plan that led to wiping out titans, and in all those futures, he'd be dead and have no way of knowing what would happen."

Mikasa closed her eyes and nodded slowly.

"We might just be creating justifications after the fact," she said sadly. "But Armin believed that in any future where Eren died with the parasite in him, it would use the Paths to connect to a new Eldian. All the other Founders who died had it transmitted, though we don't know if any of them hit the thirteen-year limit or if it was all through consumption. This means that as an Eldian that couldn't be controlled or transformed by the parasite, I or another Ackerman had to be the ones to... kill him."

"But that doesn't explain why so many innocent people had to die," Asia said, eyes still rimmed with tears.

"It does," Sona said hollowly. When eyes locked onto her, she continued to speak, almost more to herself than to others. "If his revenge was tangential, like Yuuto said, then his goal was the elimination of Titans and your safety. But without Titans, Eldia was just a small country surrounded by enemies and with a military and technology base a century behind. And nobody would believe that Titans suddenly disappeared and wouldn't reappear. Fear and hatred would have pushed them to destroy Eldia just to be safe. Maybe a complete genocide of Eldians all over the world."

"Genetics were actually more advanced in my world than here," Mikasa gave a helpless shrug when Sona looked at her. "There was already technology to detect an Eldian from non-Eldian peoples. It's how they kept them segregated."

"So Eren couldn't just have you kill him in secret to eliminate Titans," Sona tried to continue, but Mikasa shook her head resolutely.

"I wouldn't have been able to," she said with certainty. "Even after... everything, I almost couldn't do it. The only other Ackerman was Captain Levi. He would have been able to, but he wouldn't if it left Eldia vulnerable."

"And Eren wouldn't have been able to get to a future like that because Zeke wouldn't agree," Azazel pointed out.

"So, Eren needed a future where he could get you to kill him or one where Eldia was no longer at risk," Sona nodded thoughtfully, her face still ashed in colour. "If he could have sabotaged every other nation in the world, he would have. But I imagine Eldians weren't privy to information or access to the military infrastructure, and he couldn't see through the eyes of non-Eldians, so the only way he could be certain of crippling all countries was to be thorough. Total destruction."

"You are sounding like you agree with his choice," Arthur said with narrowed eyes.

"I don't agree," Sona denied, taking a deep breath. "Just... trying to understand. The Eren I know would have looked for an alternative. He would have tried a million times to find a future where everything turned out perfectly. Where he didn't need to kill so many people. This is the one he chose. I need to understand why."

"Why?" Irina asked. There was no malice in her eyes, but she looked lost. "Why do you need to understand him?"

"Because he's doing it all again," Sona said seriously, her eyes flickering from Kuroka to her sister and aunt to Vali and his team. "Isn't he? He planning on unleashing something similar to The Rumbling in the Underworld. Our home."

Their silence was telling.

"I need to know why he did it then so I can know why he's doing it now," Sona said through gritted teeth. "The 'why' is the most crucial part. Even if I disagree with him, even if I can't imagine so much death and destruction, I need to know why. Only then can I know what to teach without bias or distorting history. Only then can I help prevent another Eren Yeager from being born."

Nobody said anything in the wake of Sona's impassioned words, so the Sitri Heiress looked back at her aunt.

"There are still a few points missing," Sona pressed through grit teeth. "What did Eren tell Akeno?"

The eyes on the student council president slid to the half-fallen.

"I don't know what exactly Eren told her," Mikasa breathed out, also looking at the Queen. "But I can guess."

"... Just what he did," Akeno said softly, drawing her knees to her chest with one hand and the other rubbing her cheek. "Not how. That still doesn't make sense. He was... trying to get me out of a bad place. It helped." Akeno's gaze swept from Issei to where Rias sat beside her. "It really did. But... Eren didn't bring it up again, so I know he was responsible."

"Okay," Mikasa breathed out. She clenched her fists and, with a visible effort of will, explained in a firm voice. "You are right, Rias. Eren wouldn't use his ability to control us, even if the future would be 'better' for it. But Azazel is also right. Eren needed to make sure certain events happened to lead up to 'Eren Yeager,' the boy who would do anything to kill all Titans, being born so the future he wanted would come to pass."

Serafall had a terrible feeling at Mikasa's choice of words.

"He didn't need to do much," Mikasa continued, fists shaking. "As far as we know, the Eren who started the Rumbling only took two actions to lead to that future. The first is that he sent his memories of the future to himself in the past. Specifically, he connected to Eren Yeager, who had just learned everything from the basement and touched Historia during an award ceremony. He showed himself the future and what it took to get there. It's why Eren was so desperate for another option than the Rumbling. He hoped that the future was wrong."

"It wasn't. It couldn't be," Azazel nodded. "It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the very act of seeing the future ensures the future."

"It wasn't," Mikasa agreed grimly. "Eren was doomed to live it out precisely as he had seen. It's also why I hate the basement so much. Those memories came at exactly Eren's lowest point when we discovered that everything he had known about the world was a lie and that both he and Armin were going to die. If the basement had been destroyed, he could have learned about the truth gradually, without being overwhelmed all at once."

"Aunty." Sona's interruption was not harsh, but it was firm. "You're stalling again. What was the second thing he did in the past?"

"...To our knowledge, the only Eldian Eren ever actually controlled was a Pure Titan, and only for a few moments," Mikasa said, not meeting anyone's eyes. "He did it so that it would ignore Bertholdt Hoover, who was only a child at the time. He was alone, having just used his sole transformation of the day to kick down the gate to Shinganshina."

There was a collective intake of breath, but Mikasa plowed on.

"He did it by directing the Abnormal Titan inside the city toward a woman trapped in the rubble who couldn't escape."


"Eren killed his mother." Mikasa's voice was wet with tears as she ignored the horrified interruption. "Because Carla Yeager was the start of it all. Because if Carla Yeager did not die before his eyes, Eren would never have the conviction, the burning hatred and rage, to do what needed to be done to wipe Titans from the earth."

Nobody could say anything as they

"He betrayed everyone. Zeke. The Yeagerists. Us. Himself... None of us could provide him with the future he wanted. The future Ymir wanted. He activated the Rumbling because he wanted a blank slate. Eren alone chose the future he wanted. He did what everyone on our planet wished to do, remove Titans from the world. Eren gave up everything, everything he ever valued, to achieve it," Mikasa said helplessly, wiping at her eyes. "And it worked."

There was a beat of silence.

"...That's it?"

All eyes zeroed in on Xenovia.

"'It worked.' That's it?" She asked through grit teeth.


"No, Irina," Xenovia shook off the angel's hand as she glared, not just at Mikasa but at almost everyone in the room. "I've mostly kept my mouth shut this entire time, but someone needs to say it. Eren Yeager is a monster."


"What, Ise," the former exorcist rounded on her boyfriend. "What can you say to justify the death of a billion people?"

Issei didn't answer, and Xenovia looked back at Mikasa.

"I get how he became like that, the trauma and pain turning an innocent boy into what he became. I understand that your world was terrible, that Titans are an abomination that needed to be destroyed. I get that Eren Yeager is your lover, your friend, your Senpai, your comrade."

Xenovia looked around the room, meeting everyone's eyes as she spoke, ending on Azazel.

"I get that this world also has its fair share of monsters. I get all that. But I also get what you all seem to be ignoring. A man who can unleash that level of death and destruction, no matter the reason, is a monster. He had his reasons, but so does everyone else. Just because he's a traumatized child, just because he protected his home, just because 'it worked' doesn't make Eren Yeager right!"

"We're not saying he was right!" Issei argued back through grit teeth. "Nobody is saying that! Nobody wants something like The Rumbling!"

"They do," Xenovia pointed at Vali's team, and they tensed up. Then, her finger switched to Kuroka. "She does. Said it herself. All she cares about is Eren and her sister. If Koneko wasn't here, she'd be perfectly happy to let her lover stomp this world flat as well."

"Eren never told me anything like this!" Kuroka hissed at the Knight, hand firmly clasped around Koneko's.

"Us either," Vali said with crossed arms and narrowed eyes.

"Just like he didn't tell them about it," Xenovia rejoined, thrusting her finger toward Mikasa for emphasis. "He's using the Chaos Brigade just like he used those Yeagerists. Using you. He's using violence and death to make the world in his image, just like every other monster out there. Face it. Eren Yeager is a cruel, manipluatavie, genocidal, monster."

"...You think I don't know that," Mikasa said lowly.

As she told the story, Mikasa was more emotional than Serafall had ever known her to be. She felt sadness and heartbreak. There was some wry humour here and there, but it was mostly an unending well of loss and pain. It was for an excellent reason that Mikasa never spoke of her home dimension.

Because it hurt.

But, except for when she spoke of the basement, she hadn't been angry.

Now, with her quiet words without tonal inflection, Serafall knew that her friend was furious.

The Satan stepped aside.

So long as Mikasa didn't go too far, letting her vent a bit at the Knight would do them both some good. Mikasa for the catharsis and Xenovia to realize something everyone else had subconsciously picked up on. Either because they knew Eren personally, had been in a similar situation, or because they were more empathetic.

Even the Devil can be loved.

"You think I don't know what sort of man Eren became?" Mikasa asked rhetorically as she stepped toward the former exorcist. "In the Paths, Eren told Armin that he might have started The Rumbling even if it wasn't the best way to achieve his goals. I never forgot Eren, who he or what he became. Not one day in eighty years did I forget that the man I loved did monstrous things. There was not a single day I forgot that peace and happiness I had, that Armin's very life, was all thanks to the death of a billion and a half people and the boy I had grown up with."

Step by step, Mikasa advanced toward the blue-haired girl until they were face to face.

To her credit, Xenovia did not back down, even as the anger fully bled into Mikasa's voice.

"You are forgetting," Mikasa hissed with no little venom. "That all these reasonings, all this extra information and justification I've given you on why Eren did what he did, I didn't have! All I had were his last words to me. He told me that he hated me! After that, I watched the man I love kill countless innocent people before my very eyes. I didn't kill him because I knew it would rid the world of Titans. I did it because what he was doing was wrong, and we all knew it. Him included!"

Xenovia did flinch as Mikasa's rage mounted, but she stubbornly remained in place.

"Then why, when you discovered he was alive, did you not tell anyone about what he was capable of," Xenovia asked heatedly, gesturing around the room. "You were the only person who knew about The Rumbling in the whole world. You could have stopped this! And if you couldn't, you could have told someone who could. But you didn't. You spent months with him, never saying a word. Why?"

"Because killing your heart is never easy. Because Eren shouldn't be a threat at all," Mikasa gestured toward Kuroka, sitting beside Koneko with a lost look on her face. "As I am now, I could stop the Rumbling in a minute. If it weren't for him learning Senjutsu, he wouldn't be able to start it. Even if I wasn't here, any Ultimate class could stop him. So I chose to be happy. And now, I chose to fight him again."

"It's too late," Xenovia scowled. "You missed your chance. You said it yourself, Eren Yeager is the strongest being in this world. He will choose a future; no matter what we do, it is part of his plan."

Ah. Serfall got it. That was where the girl's animosity was coming from.


The Leviathan was familiar with the girl's story, just like all the other Kuoh students of note. Serafall expected that everyone here agreed with the former exorcist on some level. Even the thieving cat, who had stolen Mi-chan's man, was appaled at the idea of The Rumbling.

Xenovia's situation was just specific enough that she lacked the factors that aided the others in understanding where Mikasa was coming from.

She wasn't friends with Eren, was more confrontational than Gasper, and wasn't as empathetic as Irina.

Xenovia had recently learned that her God was dead, got excommunicated from the church, became a devil, and then discovered that her best friend had become an angel, something that could have happened to her if she hadn't heard of His death.

After that, she started dating the Red Dragon Emperor and discovered that his Senpai, someone she already didn't like, was the leader of a terrorist faction hell-bent on the total destruction of the Underworld and specifically targeted her new boyfriend.

Now Xenovia discovered that said man had killed over a billion people in the past, his friends and mother included and was as close to omniscient as this world had seen since the end of the Great War?

It was no wonder she lashed out. And it wasn't like she was wrong, per se; it was more like Xenovia was letting her fear of losing everything again prevent her from empathizing with someone she saw as indirectly responsible.

Serafall looked to her Pawn and considered intervening.

Mikasa, though, had it well in hand.

"Eren cannot use the Founder," Mikasa said with absolute certainty.

"You thought he couldn't be a threat, and look at us now," Xenovia pointed out. "Why wouldn't you be wrong about this, too?"

"Because there is nobody with royal blood in this world. Because he didn't know I existed in this world. Because Eren smiled."

Brows furrowed, and even Serafall tried to understand what Mi-chan was getting at.

"Sona understood right away," the former scout said grimly, nodding at her niece. "If Eren could use the Founder, he would never smile. Ever."

"Because he could see the future and the past?" Rias asked with a worried frown. "Or because he could see alternate timelines... no wonder he liked Jojo."

The last part was said quietly, but almost everyone heard the redhead's mutter of realization.

"He didn't just see," Sona said lowly. "We experienced."

"Time lost all meaning to him," Mikasa nodded gravely. "Past, present, future. It was all the same. Eren was there, with every Eldian to ever exist, from Ymir's first transformation to his death. He was there for every rape, every murder, every minor crime or great tragedy. He was the victim and the victimizer."

Already worn faces paled even further with every one of Mikasa's haunted words.

"He was his mother as she was eaten and Dina as she ate her. Eren was his aunt, torn apart by dogs. Freida Reiss and her siblings, as Grisha killed them. He was Sasha with a bullet in her chest and Gabi, who shot her. Eren was every Eldian crushed by The Rumbling as they ran for their lives. And not just for the two thousand years since Ymir. In the Paths, every second of that time was another two thousand years of a hell your dead God wouldn't give his worst enemy."

Every devil winced at the spiking pain from His name, but Mikasa didn't even stutter as she stared Xenovia down.

"And Eren did it to himself. His very quest for freedom and revenge trapped him in a prison of never-ending torment. That is why I am sure that even though Eren has the Founder, he can't use it. Because if he could, he wouldn't have been able to smile."

"But... there aren't any Eldians here apart from you, right?" Le Fay asked hopefully. "So... he wouldn't have to go through that again, right?"

"Even then," Mikasa said, tone softening. "Could you smile if you are having your worst day ever at every moment of every day? If you are fighting for your life, or killing someone, or experiencing the worst pain you will ever experience in your life? If... If Eren was anyone else, just the memories of his time with the Founder would have driven him mad to death. But..."

Mikasa drew in a deep breath as she looked back at Xenovia, her anger having faded.

"Even if he is a suicidal blockhead, even if he became the Devil, the Eren I know, the Eren you all know, would not be able to smile if he was forced to watch anything remotely similar to the Rumbling happen. We know his plan. And Eren would never have smiled if he was watching it play out."

"What exactly is his plan?" Irina asked after a beat of silence. When many people in the room looked at her, she gave an awkward shrug. "I, uh, I have no idea. Like, he's strong, right? But, um, so what? The Rumbling won't work. We can just fly, and he doesn't have millions of those Colossal Titans."

Serafall shared a look with Azazel and Mikasa, and they looked just as conflicted as she felt.

Vali, however, solved their problem.

"We'll tell you," he said cooly. When everyone, his team included, looked at him in surprise, he continued. "If you give us a minute," he nodded at his team. "I'll tell you what I know. Some of the stuff even Kuroka doesn't. Since we haven't done anything actually against the law yet, I think that should be enough for a promise similar to whatever deal she got."

At the mention of her name, the black cat looked up.

Her eyes were vacant and haunted, like she was barely there, and she didn't react beyond looking at the White Dragon Emperor.

Another look passed between the three adults in the room, and Azazel nodded.

"We can come to a provisional agreement," Azazel said. Then he gave a wan smile as he looked around the room. "And I think everyone needs a break."

Truer words were rarely spoken.

Everyone looked haggard. Some had been crying, and emotions had been running hot ever since Mikasa had arrived and Valeria had started screaming.

Issei had a quiet but heated discussion with Xenovia while Irina and Asia comforted each other.

Rias and Akeno, both pale and quiet, excused themselves to make some drinks for the group. They returned after a few minutes, holding a tray laden with cups full of hot chocolate. Nobody commented on how their hands shook or the red eyes as they gratefully took a cup.

Kuroka hadn't moved from her chair, grasping tightly onto both the cane and Koneko's hand as if terrified they would leave.

Azazel was asking something of a severe-looking Yuuto. At the same time, Gasper continued his vigil over his unconscious childhood friend, and Rossweiss cast a few spells to make the dhampir's position a bit more comfortable.

Serafall found herself torn. A part of her wished these children had not been here, had not listened to a graphic depiction of the horrors the world could bring, the pain and suffering that people could inflict on each other.

She wished that the peace they had worked so long for had come without opposition and that these young devils could grow up without worries of war and death.

Yet... Serafall couldn't deny a part of herself couldn't be prouder of both Sona and Mikasa. Both of them had been so strong tonight.

Just because the Satan wished they didn't have to be didn't mean she couldn't acknowledge the courage it took to both tell and listen to the story they heard tonight.

Sona stood alone in a corner. She looked deep in thought, and Serafall, no matter how much she wanted to hug her precious So-tan to her chest, knew her sister needed to process things alone.

So the Satan looked at her Pawn, saviour, and friend of nineteen years.

"It's done," Serafall said gently as she put up a barrier around them. "You did it."

They could still see and hear the room, but nobody could do the same to them.

"It's not done," Mikasa shook her head. With that motion, the facade crumbled, and the tired, emotionally exhausted woman underneath shone through. "It won't be done until Eren is stopped."

"...You don't have to be the one to do it," Serafall said, pulling her friend close. "There's no Founder in this world. You can go back home. Let us fight him."

"No," Mikasa shook her head, drawing herself up. "Last time... I hesitated. I couldn't bring myself to do what needed to be done. It cost hundreds of millions of lives and needlessly prolonged Eren's pain in the Paths. Eren... He wants to be stopped, Sera."

The Satan's lips twitched upwards as they always did whenever Mikasa used her nickname.

"Eren... he does terrible things, but there is always a reason, even if it's just vengeance. But no matter how much he might dislike devils, he wouldn't unleash the Rumbling on the Underworld just because of his dislike of the Evil Pieces."

"You think he's doing the same thing he did last time," Serafall nodded in understanding. "He's making himself an enemy that you can fight."

"...I think so." Mikasa clenched her fists. "No matter what Kuroka or they say, I don't think we will know Eren's actual plan until it ends. Until then, I will do what Eren knows I will do. I will fight. For what I believe is worth fighting for."

Gah! Serious Mi-chan was just too cute!

Overwhelmed, Serafall pulled her Pawn into a tight hug. She dissolved her barrier as she wiggled in place, holding Mikasa tightly.

The former scout didn't fight her despite the eyes on them. Instead, she just returned the hug.

Less enthusiastic, but no less tight.

Serafall internally smiled as she noticed a few smiles around the room.

Once more, Magical Girl Levi-tan had brought joy to the distressed children.

...Although, there was nothing childish about the derpy smile the Red Dragon Emperor had at seeing the two older women hug.

Still, the Oppai Dragon was much better than the overly 'cool' and edgy White Dragon Emperor.

Serafall cast a curious glance at the 'enemies' in the room.

A hushed conversation had broken out between Vali's team. It looked like they were debating something, but nobody could overhear their conversation after Le Fay put up a barrier like Serafall had.

Whatever they were talking about ceased when an unexpected voice spoke up.

"I, shall make a banana sanctuary," Ophis suddenly said, placing a fist on her tiny palm in realization. "I, give power to Glasses. Glasses makes banana dimension. Eren, makes banana trees. Lots of trees. I go to dimension when I want bananas. Silence and bananas." She pointed a finger at Vali, casually breaking Le Fay's barrier without issue. "You cannot trick me. Vali."

It spoke of their years as Ophis' minders that Vali's team immediately changed tracks to deal with her.

"You got me," Vali deadpanned. "Now, you just need to convince Issei to help you."

"We made a deal," Ophis said, pointing at the confused Red Dragon Emperor. "Ddraig becomes a Wall. Gives power to Eren. Eren beats up Baka Red. Ddraig gets a cookie."

Serafall really wasn't comfortable with one of the Dragon Gods being so close to Mi-tan and So-tan, but this was genuinely hilarious.

"I'm not gonna help Eren," Issei denied vehemently. Which was undermined almost instantly by his swallowing his saliva. "Even if it's for a cookie."

"You can't have two cookies," Ophis said immediately, forgoing her usual slowness in speech.

"It's not about the cookies!"

Ophis looked like her entire world was collapsing around her.

"You will just have to think of a way to convince him," Vali said with some schadenfreude. Ophis looked at him and Vali just shrugged. "Don't worry, you can stay with him until he joins. We won't tell Eren."

"Good," Ophis nodded seriously and then glared at Issei with a look that would terrify gods.

Serafall noted she looked like a kitten glaring at a rather tenacious ball of yarn.

"What are you up to, Vali," Azazel asked. "Decided to switch sides again."

"We've decided that we can't let Eren succeed with his plan," the White Dragon Emperor shrugged. "Kuroka told you about the Malebranche, right?"

Serafall, Azazel, and Mikasa nodded, growing serious once more.

"No?" Issei said, raising his hand as if in class. "What's that?"

"Superweapons created by the original Satans," Azazel explained grimly. "The devil equivalent to Sacred Gears made to be a counter to the Longinus. The only problem was that they were too powerful and had wills of their own, so the Satans sealed them away. Rumour has it that the weapons were 'extremely crazed combatants' and completely uncontrollable."

"The last time one of them was used was during the Civil War," Serafall picked up, no silliness in her voice. "A descendent of Beelzebub had one. Sirzechs had to go all out to win. And it was only partially unsealed."

"Satans," Rias exclaimed in horror.

Anyone with any knowledge of the Crimson Satan's power was equally terrified.

"They were all lost during the Civil War," Serafall continued darkly. "One of the Nebiros, one of Six Houses, squirled them away somewhere, and nobody knows where that is."

"Except for Eren," Vali explained while crossing his arms. "According to him, they are somewhere on Agares, the floating city where you had your final match against the Bael. But only he knows where."

"Agares is where most of the high-quality crystals needed for the Evil Pieces and Brave Saint cards are excavated," Sona nodded slowly. "It is also well known to be full of ruins from the time of the Old Satans. If the Malebranche were made of the same material, their original point of creation might be on Agreas."

"We searched there after the war," Serafall added to her sister's guess. "We confiscated, sealed, or destroyed anything we thought might be dangerous, but we never found any of the Malebranche or the lab that created them."

"Then how does Eren know where they are?" Rias asked.

"Senjutsu," Vali said simply. "Apparently, he sensed them when he and Kuroka passed through the Agreas territory. But there's a problem. They are almost equivalent to people and are weapons for devils. Eren, as a human, wouldn't be able to use them. So he recruited someone who was there when they were first created, the other leader of the Chaos Brigade, Rizevim Lucifer." The way the White Dragon Emperor spat the name made his feelings for the man all too clear. "My grandfather."


All right, this wraps up the daily chapters, and we will now return to our regularly scheduled releases on Fridays and Sundays. Totalling around 24k in 4 days, I feel like I need to soak my hands in warm water. At least I got most of the exposition out of the way and I hope I got across not only more of Serafall and Mikasa's characters but also Xenovia.

She hasn't been a character in this story too much, but I'm glad I got to highlight her a bit. Headstrong, courageous, moral, yet simultaneously learning to live in a world without clear-cut black and white. I think she makes a good foil for Mikasa for this night, at least.

The next chapter will be another longish one, where we learn more about Eren's plan, so you can look forward to it. There is not too much left until the end, though after the decision to turn one chapter into four, I can't say how many are left.

Before anyone asks, yes, the Malebranche are cannon Dxd, as is what I wrote about them. It did make a scrub Beelzebub descendent equivalent to Sirzechs. Which is... wild. The only reason this world hasn't ended already is because it is powered by titties and tropes.

A few eagle-eyed readers might notice a few inconsistencies here and there, to which I will say... mwahahahaha.

I will meet you all on Friday on the bench.

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