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outside of these specified skillsets, erwin is a generally athletic man. he's always had a natural curiosity for the secrets around him which leads to him asking questions relentlessly until he gets answers (if he ever does). outside of his thirst for knowledge and general sportsmanship, erwin is also highly skilled in using the 3-d maneuvering gear as well as general combat knowledge and horsemanship. it's this knowledge that lead to him becoming a commander of the survey corps quite early and also in his creation of the long-distance enemy scouting formation. he's a master strategist and tends to ignore his limits and push himself and his team forward to their breaking points.
you vowed to never be like that son.
you tried your best to make your family proud, to make something of yourself no matter what happened. that's why you were always asking questions, always letting your mind wander and your thirst for knowledge grow. it could never be quenched it seemed, no matter how many times your father answered question after questions, there was another five in its place. you remember the joyous ways in which your father would laugh at some of your questions, how he would fill you in on his ideals and thoughts of a time before the titans ruled beyond the walls.
it was treason to talk that way. your father never shared his thoughts with anyone but you, but you had the bright idea to share it with some of your friends. a child's mind always likes to sugar coat things, that's why you told these so called friends what your father believed. that the king had brainwashed people to forget about a time before titans so that he could control those within the walls easier. it made sense, how everyone just let themselves be content behind a towering wall while beasts roamed free. as if humans were the caged animals, waiting to be chosen and slaughtered as they did to farm animals. you hadn't realized that what your father had told you was a secret. that it wasn't supposed to be shared with anyone.
at least not until your father never came home.
it was disconcerting, waking up to an empty house, your mother long gone from your life and now your father not returning home from his venture to the market the night before. you hear murmurs that the first interior squad of the police brigade was running around town, cracking down on traitors and the like and you think nothing of it. what do they have to do with you? a small child and his father, the teacher, there's nothing for you to worry about. not until you hear that they'd caught someone, someone who was spouting lies about the king and the titans and your heart was fluttering more than you could ever imagine. it couldn't be your father, it couldn't.
it wasn't and you thanked the gods for that.
except your father still didn't come home. he wasn't captured by the first interior squad, yet he laid slain in the market place, left to bleed out on the streets like a pig lead to their slaughter. you weren't the one to find him, you didn't even know he was dead until the military police brigade showed up to tell you that they'd found his body. you couldn't support yourself, you were a child after all, but the training corps looked after their students - gave them a place to sleep, food, clothes. it was really your only option so at least it was a good thing you'd already planned on joining their ranks.
even when he turns his back on you to join the military police brigade instead of the survey corps. it stings, but you'll survive. you promised to survive after all. you stick with your dream, taking a spot in the survey corps, quickly becoming elevated in rank compared to your fellow corps members. your first major accomplishment was as a squad leader.
a new formation technique for attacking titans to reduce casualties. at first, everyone was skeptical, it couldn't possibly work, there was no way to reduce the amount of people that died at the hands of the titans. and yet, the technique proved useful, productive, it worked. though despite how many lives the long-distance scouting formation saved lives, it didn't stop all the casualties of war. there was absolutely no way you could play god and stop that - even if you wanted to. however, you supposed that these people were dying for the greater good, they were dying to save humanity after all.
that's how you reasoned with yourself at least. that everyone you grew to know would wind up dying, it was the easiest way to live this life. without making connections, without forming any bonds because the moment you did, they'd be taken away from you. that hardy thought is how you continued to excel in the ranks, continued to improve your techniques and tactics, proving yourself to be more than adept at the fight you were willing to undertake.
it's not long before you're taking over from commander shadis, the first commander to take over for another commander before they've died. it's unheard of for a commander to relinquish their power, but shadis was always a smart man, knew when to back down and retreat and when he couldn't do things on his own. it was... exhilarating, this power you now held at the palm of your hands. the first to be given command while another commander still lived and one of the youngest commanders to take power. so far it seemed like your career in the survey corps was one of the best things to happen to you.
despite the amount of titan attacks, you manage to keep a majority of your subordinates alive. it's hard and time consuming and you know you look far older than you really are, but that's what stress does to you. you've been reprimanded by nile the few times you are able to meet up with him in the year. reprimanded by mike, a subordinate that you've happened to grow fond of and almost replaces that kinship you'd felt with nile all those years ago. you know they worry for you, but you can't worry about yourself. you'd joined the survey corps with a selfish reason and you weren't going to be selfish enough to worry about your own insecurities and troubles. not when the bigger picture was finding out how to stop the titans once and for all.
it takes a couple more years before you find another thing that's good for you.
the first opportunity to scout the streets, you're out looking. mike questions your actions, wonders why you're so interested in a bunch of street rats and you just smile and wave him on, his answers will come shortly. you want to see these kids with your own eyes first. it's almost pure luck that you run into them when you do, stopping them from whatever theft they were trying to organize that day.
you demand answers from their leader, at least the scrappy young brunette looks to be their leader as he was the most skilled in using the gear. it's surprising to hear that no one had really taught him anything, that everything he'd done was purely self-taught. it was amazing what he could do, if only he would join the survey corps.
that's when the gears in your mind start turning, you offer all three of them a deal. join the survey corps and crawl out of this hell or be turned into the military police brigade and be thrown into an even worse hell than the streets provided. the other two agree readily, it's the last one, the leader that you need to convince. you don't need to convince him though, he'll join the survey corps as you whisper a few choice words into his ear before the brunette is standing up and following the rest of your subordinates towards the barracks.
it was easier to get them to join than it was to train them. they were decent, but their raw natural talent could only get them so far, could only keep them elevated above their peers for so long. except for the leader, levi. he was the only one who continued to rise above those around him, to out maneuver even the most trained scouts, even yourself. it was pure, unadulterated talent. you'd never seen anything like it.
as levi proves himself on the battlefield, hange is quick to point out that a new squad captain is needed and she's quick to point to who she thinks it should be. you're not sure why you let her get close to you, to find a perch on your shoulder and squawk like the pet bird you never wanted. but you know her advice is well met, a new squad captain is needed and levi is the best option. you're hesitant about the promotion, but he's proven himself time and time again despite his constant desire to undermine your command. you know it isn't because of how you run things, but instead a personal desire of levi's to get his revenge on you though there's no real reason why he feels this way. you've done nothing but try to help him out of his shitty situations.
it's more of a shock when it's discovered that titans are humans. were humans, can be humans. it's as if your father's theories have come to life and you don't feel so idiotic for believing in them. there were even humans amongst the survey corps who could transform into titans. you're hesitant at first, titans only mean to kill and destroy, so wouldn't one that's involved with the survey corps be just the same? it's weird having eren under your command, having control over one more thing that brings you power. the lustful taste of power is heedy, alluring, you give in to the temptations at times, you grow too cocky for your position. levi is there with a glower to bring you right back to your feet.
deep down, you knew the government was corrupt, you knew there was some secret they were hiding like your father had told you when you were a boy. you see this at work as they try to have a trial about eren despite him doing nothing but provide help for the survey corps. they simply want a scapegoat for the wrongdoings of the titans and he's the easiest one to get their hands one. thankfully there's a distraction at wall rose and the trail can't be carried through at the moment.
it's one of the largest attacks that you have seen before in your life. there's so many titans approaching the wall, that it's hard to use the long distance formation. for once, you are scrambling with a tactic that can be used to help the survey corps win this battle and yet you can think of nothing but charging forward at this problem head on. it's dumb, you know that, levi knows that, hange knows that. and yet no one can think of anything better. with a yell full of as much bravado as you can muster, you tell everyone to ready their horses and then charge.
one second you're steering your horse in the direction of the massive group of titans, the next there's an earth-shattering pain in your arm and then you are flying. you feel like the son that started to fly too close to the sun with his makeshift wings. only you know that's not why you're in the air, not why you feel this pain. disappointment floods your senses as you realize that you likely won't make it out of this in one piece, maybe not even alive. with what little sense you have left, you yell at the squads to continue onward - to continue the fight for humanity. you'd already talked to hange about what should happen if you were to die on a mission.
the pain grows stronger, your vision fading quickly as you realize you're losing too much blood at too fast a rate for your body to sustain itself. keeping the fear from your eyes, you feebly try to get the titan to release your arm, but it's pointless, only makes the pain and failing sight worse. with a crunch you feel your bones snap and you're falling, the ground rushing up to meet you and at least you have enough decency to remember to roll upon impact.
laying in a daze, you feel the pounding in your body, the faint beating of your heart as you close your eyes. the darkness surrounding your vision making it pointless to keep them open any longer. steeling yourself, you manage to tear a strip of cloth from your scouting cape and fasten it around your arm to help quell the bleeding. it does nothing to quench the pain.
and you realize, with a sad smile, that you've finally lost your wings.