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Author Topic: A Merciful Deliverance  (Read 412 times)

A Merciful Deliverance
« on: February 18, 2020, 01:34:57 AM »
A day south of Shiganshina, beyond Wall Maria


Jaroslaw stirred. Was it over? Was it over at last? Had it all just...stopped?


He didn’t recognize the voice. His tried to open his eyes but wasn’t sure if he was doing so -- everything was hazy, as though seen through gauze. His skull thrubbed and he remembered the throbbing of his fractured vision as he fled, and why:

Flashes of dark. Or flashes of his surroundings? Darkness and landscape, horseflesh, throbbing in his vision as though his heartbeat now controlled the world. Everything a nauseous yellow-pink.

Running. Seemingly forever running. The horse galloping, frothing at the mouth, snorting loud -- the sound hitting him over and over like a pounding on his chest. The icy grip of fear had contracted all his muscles. Location and destination a blur, only vaguely aware that he was still screaming. Even with the horse he had felt horribly alone.

The sun, like a bloody knife. Every line of the landscape fleeing beneath him, like a knife. His body, like a knife. The smaller the sliver of the sun at the horizon, the more it hurt.

The horse had tripped, buckled. Jaroslaw was thrown and struck the ground violently.

Yes, that was it. The nightmare that had been the mouth of hell. Not being able to see it was the only blessing --

“Wake -- you have yet to fulfil your purpose.”

Jaroslaw realized he was looking at grass in front of him, wild onion. Not hell, exactly. Farther out, a muted form of an unmoving horse in twilight. He tried to move, squinting even with the slightest turn. Who was with him? Speaking to him? His maneuvering gear clunked and rattled underneath him as he righted himself.

He was alone on the plain. The wind tousled his hair, which was half-loose from the tie he kept it in. Tacky blood had coated one side of his face and the cut on his head stung, but he could feel nothing broken. His horse was dead, and farther away still were the eerie monoliths of Titans stilled against the star-pricked sky.

Jaroslaw recalled fully, then, what had happened and what he’d done. Hot tears of fear sprung in his eyes and he whimpered, trying to get to his feet. He vomited.

The return convoy being ripped asunder by Titans, just before dusk. Screams. Confusion, terror. Horses and men and women flying through the air as flashes of green and brown. How he'd fled -- "Coward!" being shouted after him repeatedly before cutting short.

“You must not fear.”

Jaroslaw whirled and, unbalanced, fell backward. He looked around wildly but there was still no one, and nowhere for anyone to hide. Yet the voice had been clear as the dirt beneath him. He squeezed his eyes shut, the panic surging.

“You must not fear.”

Strangely the fear subsided, like the sun drying water on stone. He opened his eyes again, feeling the pain retreat from him and every muscle relax.

“We want you to live. You must walk.”

Walk? Walk where? Who…?


He did so, compelled by a sudden warmth in his chest that radiated through his left arm to his fingertips. That arm rose, pulling him forward.

“You must walk. You must return to Us. We will guide you -- for We are merciful.”

The world narrowed. His consciousness was consumed with that blissful warmth.

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2020, 02:07:06 AM »
Arkin was...bored. And he was grateful for that. Bored meant nothing bad was happening at the moment.

While no longer totally green - Arkin was still more or less a newbie with just a year or so under his belt. He still had so much to learn. And Arkin had no doubt whatsoever he would nothing from his current Team Leader. Arkin did not think Louis was a bad man. Not at all. But Louis was basically every Garrison stereotype there was. Lazy, often tipsy, and more content to play cards or checkers that actually pay attention to the goings-on along the Walls - Louis was just coasting along until he could retire.

He had left Arkin alone today. Tasking the young soldier to clean all the cannons. It was messy work...very greasy...but Arkin did not really mind. Artillery was the only class Arkin had shown genuine ability and he had been assigned right to a cannon team after selecting the Garrison. That had made him happy. Sad to leave most of his friends...but happy to be put into a job where he could actually do a good job.

It had been a few hours at this point and the cannons were honestly sparkling. He’d even done some of the cannonballs - just for something to do. Arkin doubted Louis would be back soon so he took a moment to sit against one of the cannons and take a few sips from his canteen.

As he was looking out into the vast green beyond the Wall something caught Arkin’s eye. At first, he was not sure what it was. Far too small to be a Titan - even from a great distance. Standing and walking to the edge, Arkin slapped his hand over his mouth and gasp. That was...a person. Coming towards the Walls. How long had he been moving before Arkin had spotted him? Arkin cast his blue eyes around...hoping to see someone...anyone...another Garrison member. There was no one he could see and no one came when Arkin shouted.  He cursed Louis and the rest of his goldbricking squad.

Running back to the edge, Arkin saw the person had made it to the Wall and looked to have collapsed. Arkin felt his legs buckle underneath him and tears spring to his eyes. He was scared and he wanted an officer. But there was no officer around and Arkin knew he had to help the person. Rising to his feet and taking a few deep breaths, Arkin positioned himself, shot a hook into the Wall, and repelled down as fast as he could.

Arkin had been on this side of the Wall for repairs. He had never touched the ground though. As his feet hit the dirt, he was breathing heavy and his hands were shaking.

“Hey. Hey. Wake up. Come on. We have to go up. What...where...are you with the Survey Corps!” Arkin could tell the young man was in a uniform...but he had no jacket or cloak so there was no insignia to indicate what branch. “I...have to take you up. It’s not safe on this side.” Arkin had about a hundred questions, but it was most important he get them back on top of the Walls. Brushing his sweaty blond hair out his face, he shook the person, "We have to go up. Try and hold on to me."

OOC: Let me know if anything needs to be changed. Arkin has never been over the Walls before and this is just...worst day ever lol. « Last Edit: February 24, 2020, 12:13:34 AM by Arkin Holt »

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2020, 11:45:47 PM »
"We...go... Try...on to me."

Jaroslaw was vaguely aware of someone speaking to him -- someone that wasn't the voice, the Great Voice that had led him by the hand. Who, then? Where was he? He'd collapsed, there'd been grass beneath him after...how long had it been? Shock gripped him hard, and then released.

There'd only been the warmth in his chest, his arm, his hand, and the irrepressible pull onward. Everything else wasn't even a blur -- it was darkness. Not a frightening one, though. A strangely irrelevant one. Just as irrelevant as his most recent memory of having been with the Scouting Legion out on expedition. It felt so very far away now.

"Wake. You are home. You are with Us. We are merciful," said the Great Voice. It was stronger now, neither male nor female.

He opened his eyes and was met by a gust of wind that stung them, pushed his wavy, unkempt brown hair out of his face. There were shapes around him he didn’t recognize -- the steep, glistening cut of a wall in the sunshine, brown leather, strong arms around him. He smiled, euphoric, at the sky above.

The warmth in him surged. He was back at Wall Maria. Yes! Yes! You are merciful!

Whatever that darkness was that he had traveled through, he knew it was only possible because of the Great Voice. He had been taken through a miracle -- of course he could not presume to ask how. It was graceless to look into the inner workings of a mercy. What mattered now was what must be done to keep it, to have deserved it. He managed to move a weak arm around the soldier's shoulders.

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2020, 01:26:22 AM »
The young man was not quite dead weight, but he was unwieldy.  It took Arkin a moment to get a grip on him that he was comfortable scaling the Wall with. It helped when...whoever he was...was able to hold onto his shoulder.

"Okay. Hold on really tight. Don't let go!" Arkin said hoarsely as he pressed one fit against the Wall for leverage, took a deep breath, and shot his hooks up.

Part of their training had included using 3DM gear while carrying another person. His partner for that had been very petite Anka Rheinberger. And she had been holding firmly onto him...and they did not have to scale the Wall. They just went up and then down a tree a few times.

It was not an easy climb. Arkin had to use his legs a fair amount to kick help them up them Wall and he had to pause a few times to readjust the young man.

It seemed like forever, but Armin was finally able to make it to the top edge of the Wall. With a grunt, he heaved the young man over and then pushed over himself. Arkin lay on his back, breathing hard, covered in sweat, and having no idea what he should do next.

Rolling over, he crawled back to the young man and took out his canteen, "Here...sit up...try and drink." He gently grasped the boy's face in his hands and held the canteen up to his lips. Arkin wished Ian was here...or Rico...Gustav...any of his friends from training. They'd know what to do.  He took a handkerchief from his pocket and began to gently clean off the boy's face. "Hey...hey...look at me. Name? What's your name?"

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2020, 03:36:02 AM »
The water was cool and welcome on Jaroslaw's parched throat -- the splutter that followed was not so much on having drunk too much too quickly, but on the question.

He stilled, despite every instinct to flinch at the kind touch. One hand held the soldier's, steadying the canteen. My name... Who am I, now? How could anyone be the same after that? It's like I've been reborn. The old me... He looked at the city beyond, where the curve of the great Walls embraced humanity. I understand. The old me couldn't deserve what lies ahead. His mind became clear and still. Finally he turned to his rescuer -- a Garrison soldier around his age, blue-eyed, blond hair to his shoulders. The panic in his face didn't detract from his involvement in the miracle. “I don’t remember,” Jaroslaw lied.

“Good. You must leave it behind. You must be empty in order to serve.”

Serve? His gaze roamed distractedly to the warm stone under his hand. Of course -- of course I must. Why else be brought back like this, if it isn't to deserve the life that has been re-gifted to me? Though he still felt in the fog of his resurrection, he was aware that there was a very real challenge ahead. He needed to get off this Wall and away from questions, away from soldiers, away from eyes that might recognize him. He needed the framework for a new life. Best to start thinking of a name.

"Begin," said the Great Voice.

Everything slotted into place. The amazement was gone; even the warmth receded. But he was overcome with remarkable calm and confidence. He even managed a somewhat bashful smile. "I'm sorry, I wish I could. I'm so thankful to you, though. I know this isn't something you're supposed to do. Who are you?"

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2020, 01:30:09 AM »
“I don’t remember.”

Arkin blinked a few times and then rubbed his hand over his eyes. Yes...he really wanted Ian or Anka or Gustav right now. They were just so much better at this sort of thing. Not that anything in training would have prepared them for...this.

Sunstroke or he hit his head, Arkin thought to himself as he helped the boy take another sip of water. That could explain the memory loss. He tried to think back to all the time he spent in his parent's shop and willed himself to remember any medical knowledge that would help in this situation. He was having the boy drink. That was something. And he did not see any wounds that looked life-threatening. That was also...something.

"I'm sorry, I wish I could. I'm so thankful to you, though. I know this isn't something you're supposed to do. Who are you?"

"Uhm....Arkin. My name is Arkin Holt," he answered. He gave the boy a long look. Arkin was typically good at reading people - but this kid...well...Arkin was at pretty much a loss.

"Stay here. Right here," Arkin said as firmly as he could as he rose to his feet. He had a supply bag near the cannons and wanted to get it. "Don't move."

Arkin jogged over to the bag and paused to try and collect himself. He took a few deep breaths and tried to channel everyone he admired, Gustav, Ian, Anka, Instructor Carlstedt-Gaus...anyone who would be doing better in this situation than he was. But still...he was the one dealing with it and he wanted to do his best.

Taking a few more deep breaths, Arkin jogged back to the boy and knelt back down, "Are you hurt anywhere? I'm not a medic...but I can bandage you up."

"So...no name...but do you know why you were out there? Were..are you a Scout?" He was pulling a roll of bandages out of the bag and a bottle of ointment, "Were you always alone?"

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: A Merciful Deliverance
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2020, 01:52:26 AM »
He watched Arkin retreat the small distance toward the cannon. I'm nameless. I'm...Nameless. That's fine for now, he thought, tried it on himself like a new coat.

Nameless was happy to stay put for the time being. It was obvious by now that his arrival had thrown Arkin for a loop -- although he'd been a Scout, he was well familiar with the fact that rescues like this were rarely sanctioned or attempted and thus, that the other soldier must be feeling all sorts of harried.  He'd do his best to alleviate it without getting himself into an unnecessarily complicated situation. If he wasn't careful there'd be too many people involved, and the more people you lied to the harder it'd become to extricate oneself. He needed to get away from here as quickly as possible without raising suspicion.

But to where? If I'm to serve... Nameless looked out again over Wall Maria's inner territory, Shiganshina to his right, the east, anchoring those great swathes of green and brown and blue in the corner of his vision. The Church. What was it they called themselves? Now that he couldn't actually remember. Did they have a presence in Shiganshina, or did he have to go deeper? Steal a horse and ride inward? Forever a journey inward...

"Are you hurt anywhere? I'm not a medic...but I can bandage you up." Arkin had knelt in front of him again, supplies in hand. It was then that Nameless noticed Arkin was missing part of his outer left hand, including his little and ring fingers, rather than them being coincidentally hidden from view.

Help him, Nameless reminded himself. "Nothing too severe I don't think -- the cut on my head, I think my wrist is sprained and there's a gash here too," he raised his right forearm and folded back the dirty, torn sleeve of a shirt that was once navy blue.

He proffered the arm to give the young soldier something to do, maybe calm him down, stop him from raising the alarm right away. With his free hand he took another sip from the canteen, less voraciously this time.

"As to your other questions, I wish I could tell you more. I'm not sure why I was out there. I don't think I was a Scout, but then, I don't feel like I was alone either. I hope I wasn't. But then, if I wasn't, that means that no one else made it...and wouldn't that be more terrible? Part of me wishes I had a uniform so that all of this would be clearer!" To claim outright to have forgotten everything would have been too much. "But coming back to Wall Maria felt like home." He chuckled again, "Though, where else could possibly be home, eh."


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