I was getting ready to head to the outdoor stage, where everyone's graduating ranks would be announced. Ymir and Krista had already left our cabin, I was still behind making sure none of the stuff from my box was missing. After double checking, I turned around to now be face to face with Eren.
"Gah! You scared me, Eren." I playfully punched his arm, walking passed him to the door.
"Just coming to check up on you. The whole 104th division is outside and ready to head out." Eren walked behind me as I shut the door.
We made it to the group, everyone hugging each other and saying how much they'll miss this place. As we all loaded onto separate stagecoaches, I lifted up the covering of the one I was on to catch a final glimpse of the training camp. I found myself smiling, but not in a happy way. More of an I won't miss this hellhole of a place at all smile. I looked back on the large metal beams that I had trained for 3DMG on, and placed a hand on my eyepatch. I looked down at the floor, the coach bouncing as the horses carried us over rocks and small holes.
"I'll help you through this, remember?" I felt Eren put his hand over mine, squeezing lightly.
"Always, Eren." I smiled, falling asleep for the rest of the ride.
As we arrived and all filed out, I was beyond surprised that I hadn't had another nightmare on the way here. We were all told to stand in a large block, such as the one we did on initiation day. Our drill sergeant stood beside and slightly behind a taller man with blond hair brushed behind his ears. We were all ordered to a salute, and quickly obeyed.
"Before we get started, the top 10 of your class will be announced! These individuals, please step forward in this order!" I tightened my fist over my heart, sweat started to form on my forehead.
"Ava Oliver! Mikasa Ackerman! Reiner Braun! Bertholdt Hoover! Annie Leonhardt! Eren Jaeger! Jean Kirschtein! Marco Bodt! Sasha Braus! Krista Lenz!" The man finished, and I loosely released my salute in utter shock.
Everyone whose names had been called filed forward to the front of the block. We all stood in the order given, and quickly snapped back into a salute. Everyone stood in silence for a few moments, until once again the booming voice came over us.
"And now, the paths presented to you as graduating members of the 104th Trainees Squad!" The man shouted, pulling out a piece of paper.
"First, you can defend gates and cities as a member of the Garrison," My heart sank, remembering my father. "secondly, you can risk your lives as you fight the titans on their home turf as a member of the Survey Corps!" I perked up once again, hearing my choice.
"And lastly," he cleared his throat, "you can defend civilians and the royal order as a member of the king's personal Military Police brigade! That, however, is only available to the top 10!" and with that, the announcing was done.
Another person came up and stated that if you had no interest in the Survey Corps, to go ahead and leave for registration of the branch you chose. Which made me wonder, why did those who wanted the Survey Corps stay? I stood locked in my salute, glancing over at Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. We all smiled in hopes to calm each other down. After about 10 minutes of standing, a man I hadn't seen in years walked out in front of the other men on stage. That combed over blond hair, the bushy eyebrows, and tall stature. He met my eyes, his mouth hanging agape in a gasp.
"...Ava." He mouthed. I nodded, facing straight forward once more.
We all stood there, listening to Erwin speak about the Survey Corps, its mission, and the high risk of death. I could hear people whispering about it, saying they'd rather live a low life as a Garrison soldier, which sort of offended me. Erwin cleared his throat, carrying out a booming statement.
"If you truly wish to join us, stay! If your cowardice has gotten the better of you, get out of my sight." I heard the shuffling of shoes, signaling that people had given up.
"I congratulate you, standing soldiers. Welcome to the Survey Corps." Erwin closed his eyes, smiling.
We were all dismissed, and the first thing everybody did was hug each other. Eren kept hugging me saying "We've made it, Oli. We've made it!". I of course, hugged Mikasa and my other friends. Erwin walked over to us, stating we'd be staying the night in this city and leaving for their base outside the walls tomorrow morning. We all nodded, following a short, orange-yellow haired girl to our lodging. I was rooming with Mikasa and Sasha this time. As they entered the room, I was the last one in so I turned to thank the girl for helping us.
"No problem! If you need anything, my name is Petra." She smiled, walking back down the hall.
I closed our door and locked it. Walking over to the beds, I was happy to have a big one all to my own. Throwing myself down on the plush blankets and mattress, I laughed in glee.
"Wow! This is so much nicer than the training camp, ey guys?" I asked, looking at Mikasa and Sasha who also jumped onto their beds.
"You can say that again!" Sasha exclaimed burying her face in the pillows.
"Yeah, it's pretty great." Mikasa added in.
A few hours later, the both of them were asleep. Still kept awake by my thoughts, my mind was currently focusing on Erwin and how he was there tonight. Well, he IS the Commander of the Corps. It's only natural to see him here on such a night. Still, his expression was one of defeat, grief, and a tiny pinch of happiness. Why was he so surprised to see me? I guess now that I'm a member of the Corps, I could find out. Just as I rolled over to sleep, I heard murmured voices.
Focusing harder, I determined that they were coming from outside. Since I was on the bottom floor, my window gave a perfect view of the large area we had been at for graduation. There was a covering going around the side of the building, too. I opened my curtain, to find one body towering over a much shorter one, engaged in a hush conversation.
"Erwin, are you sure it was her?" The shorter one asked. Ah! Erwin was outside.
"Yes, I'm positive. She has an eyepatch on, which makes me worry. I need to know how she was put in this position..." Erwin trailed off, turning his back on the other person.
"If she's here, I must go see her. I need to." He turned to leave, but Erwin took hold of his arm forcefully.
"Now now, Levi! She hasn't seen you in years! Wait until tomorrow, at least." Erwin pleaded with...Levi?!
"Tch. Whatever." Levi ripped his arm free, walking away.
I closed the curtains, my final sight being Erwin placing his head in his palms. I went back over to my comfy bed, and curled myself up in the blankets.
The morning came swiftly. I must've only gotten five or so hours of sleep, since I was more tired than normal. Mikasa and Sasha were up, getting their trainees uniforms on. I wonder when we'll get the Survey Corps ones... Standing up, I got dressed myself. Combing my hair, I heard a familiar voice, that of Erwin, approaching our door.
"Ladies, we leave for the base in 15." He stated, before walking away.
I put my hair in a braid, changed my patch, and threw all my things into a dufflebag. Mikasa and Sasha walked behind me as we left for the court where we had been yesterday. I found Eren, Armin, and Jared. Walking over, I gave my brother a big hug. Even though he hadn't made the top 10, he still chose the Corps instead of Garrison.
"Hey, Jared. You could've been in the Garrison, why'd you choose this?" I asked, nudging him as we walked to the stagecoaches.
"I promised dad I'd look after you." He smiled, hugging me with one arm.
I was just about to load a coach when I heard my name called.
"Ava Sm-Oliver! Front and center!" It was Erwin. Oh god, what'd I do already?
"Sir!" I saluted promptly when I arrived in front of him.
"At ease, Ava. You will be riding in the front coach, with the Corporal and I." Erwin gestured over to Levi who was getting inside.
"Yes, Sir!" I grabbed my bag, heading for the front coach.
This one was much nicer than the one I rode in from yesterday. The seats were padded, and were facing front to back rather than side to side. As I sat, Corporal Levi switched spots to be next to me. He didn't say anything, just kept a straight face forward. Erwin later climbed in, sitting across from both of us. The first half hour or so was in silence. I kept gazing out the small window on the door of the stagecoach, as the trees went by. I heard someone call my name, and flinched.
"Ava," Levi began, casting me a sideways glance, "do you remember me?" He turned to face Erwin, who was switching looks at us both.
"Y-Yes, I do. You're Levi. You're the guy I met in The Underground when I still lived in Wall Sina." I smiled, as he seemed to be flooded with relief.
"And if I may, Ava...why'd you leave?" Erwin sounded concerned, which was odd.
"Well, my father was apart of the Garrison, and he was re-assigned to Shiganshina. We lived there for about a year and then..." I started to get choked up, wiping my right eye of a tear.
"It's okay, Ava. I trust myself and Levi enough that we know what happened. One more question, what happened to your eye?" Erwin leaned forward, we all bounced as the coach hit a rock.
I put a hand over my eye patch, causing my mind to dig up old memories. I started to cry lightly, my nose sniffling. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and looked over to see Levi, who cast a somber look at me. Erwin furrowed his brows, probably troubling himself for making me remember all of these accidents.
"I-It was the first day of training at the camp...one of the cords snapped on the 3DMG simulators...I went face first with a large bolt in the pole, it caused me to be blinded..." I lifted up the patch, showing the milky white freak of an eye, the scar adding to the creepy effect.
"My condolences, Ava. I also am sorry for making you recall those horrendous things. This is the last thing, I promise. How old are you?" I looked at Erwin, whose monstrous eyebrows made me smile on the inside.
"I just turned 20, sir." I twiddled my thumbs, not making eye contact.
Erwin slumped against the carriage, which made Levi chuckle. I looked at the two, but Levi just kept bursting into occasional laughter that only lasted a few seconds. Erwin looked amazed, no, flabbergasted. Yes, that's the word. The coach finally stopped, as Erwin got out to direct the trainees around. Levi and I stayed seated in the coach, the only sound was Erwin's muffled commands.
"Levi, have you been in the Corps all this time?" I asked him, trying to break the silence.
"Yeah, I have. It's been quite the journey. I'll warn you, the thing's you'll see here...it'll give you nightmares." Levi wore a dismal expression. I put my hand on his shoulder, patting it softly.
"Hey, what ever happened to Isabel and Farlan? They seemed cool and I wanted to catch up with them." I placed my hands in my lap, looking at the man.
Levi shot up, exiting the coach door and grabbing my bag. Well, alright. You can take it if you really want... I leaned forward to get a better look, wondering what I had done that set him off. Levi looked over his shoulder at me a few seconds later.
"They didn't make it." He stated harshly, throwing my bag over his shoulder and walking out of sight.
Walking out of the stagecoach, I noticed everyone walking to the opposite side. Following them, I stood amongst the large crowd that faced Erwin and now Levi, on the steps of a monstrous castle like building. Everyone was ooo'ing and awe'ing, continuously moving their heads to get a better look at what we now called home.