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The Battle of Shiganshina District was a conflict between the Survey Corps and the warriors of Marley within the ruins of Shiganshina District, in which Wall Maria was reclaimed five years after its fall and the truth of the outside world was discovered in the basement of Grisha Yeager's home.
In the two months following the coup d'état against the old Royal Government, the military-run government had begun to make great technological advancements after retrieving the contraband obtained by the Military Police Brigade First Interior Squad. With these findings, the Survey Corps was able to develop the "Thunder Spears", explosive weapons compatable with vertical maneuvering equipment designed with the purpose of dealing heavy damage to the Armored Titan, whose location following the Wall Rose invasion had become unknown. Additionally, the glowing crystals discovered in the underground cavern beneath the Reiss Chapel served as an energy-efficient light source, drastically increasing productivity and providing a means for the Survey Corps to plot a new course to Shiganshina District under the cover of night.
At this time, the hardening power acquired by Eren Yeager's Attack Titan was used to create the first Titan guillotine outside of Trost District, allowing for quick and efficient Titan extermination with few to no losses of military lives. After two months' time, the Survey Corps had successfully plotted half of their route to Shiganshina, and the possibility of retaking Wall Maria had become a reality. With their plans nearly ready, the Survey Corps solicited all able members of the military to join in their upcoming fight to reclaim Wall Maria, and many soldiers both young and old joined in their cause. During this time, the matter of the Titan serum obtained by Kenny Ackerman in the last days of the coup was discussed by the leaders of the military. Recognizing the significance of the serum, it was decided that possession of the serum would be entrusted to Captain Levi Ackerman, who would decide who should receive the serum if the need arose.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of Shiganshina District, Zeke Yeager reunited with his warrior subordinates Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover, who desired to venture back into the Walls to find and rescue Annie Leonhart, who had been presumably lost and captured in the Stohess District raid. Zeke disagreed with this course of action, instead prioritizing their plan to regain the Founder. Zeke and Reiner fought over the decision with the Beast and Armored Titans, and Zeke easily overpowered Reiner. With the decision settled in his defeat, Zeke declared that the warriors would remain in Shiganshina District until the Survey Corps arrived with the "Coordinate" among them.
Some time later, the commanding officers of the Survey Corps gathered to discuss the matter of locating and investigating Grisha Yeager's basement after successfully reclaiming Shiganshina. Once all plans were made, Levi spoke with Commander Erwin Smith alone, expressing his concern for his life being at risk due to the arm he lost two months before in the Wall Rose invasion and demanding that Erwin should stay behind while someone else took charge. Erwin rejected Levi's proposition, saying that his desire to witness the truths of the world was more important to him than his own safety or humanity's victory.
Two days before the expedition to Wall Maria, a feast was held for all the participating members of the Survey Corps, where friends reminisced about their old battles and dreams. When all were present, Erwin Smith presented the Titan serum to the soldiers, stating its purpose and how it would be used in the upcoming expedition: if the warriors confronted them in Shiganshina and a soldier was wounded but not dead, the soldiers could call for Captain Levi and the serum would be used to turn the wounded soldier into a mindless Titan before eating a captured warrior.
When the time came for the expedition, the 208 members of the Survey Corps gathered atop Wall Rose in Trost District just before sunset. The Corps was given an uproar of praise before their departure, and once the Titan guillotine had cleared enough Titans from the area the Survey Corps descended Wall Rose by lift and set out for Shiganshina.
Under the cover of night, the Survey Corps slowly advanced through the forests towards Shiganshina, only occasionally coming across a dormant Titan. During their advance, the warrior Pieck scouted for her comrades, spotting the incoming soldiers from her Titan form, "Cartman". Pieck quickly returned to Shiganshina and warned Warchief Zeke and the others of their approach, and the warriors prepared for battle. Bertolt joined Zeke and Pieck to the north of Wall Rose while Reiner hid within the Wall, waiting in ambush. Bertolt hid himself within a perforated barrel on the Cartman's back, put on standby for the time being. Meanwhile, Zeke by some means presumably gathered all the Titans within and around Shiganshina to use in the battle against the Survey Corps.
Early conflict: The Armored Titan
By sunrise, the Survey Corps had arrived in Shiganshina District. As planned, all members of the Survey Corps pulled their hoods over their heads to disguise their features. After scaling Wall Maria, 100 of the soldiers made a rush for the outer gate of Shiganshina in order to hide Eren Yeager's position within their numbers. Their advance went unhindered, and with his Attack Titan Eren successfully blocked the breach in Wall Maria. However, Armin Arlert noticed the remains of a campsite atop the Wall and discovered three cups along with a cold kettle. Bringing this news to Commander Erwin Smith, he suspected that the warriors had known about their coming ahead of time and made preparations. Commander Erwin gave command of the search to Armin, and the soldiers began searching houses for the warriors. However, Armin soon suspected that they could have been hiding within the Walls themselves instead and ordered for a new search. After a short time, Reiner Braun was found hiding within a secret compartment of the Walls, emerging to kill an officer. Captain Levi rapidly disposed of Reiner, though his killing blow was nullified with a Titan ability which saved Reiner's nervous system long enough for him to transform into the Armored Titan.
Before Commander Erwin could give an order, Zeke Yeager and Pieck transformed into the Beast Titan and the Cartman to the north of Shiganshina, along with the many dozens of Titans that Zeke had prepared for the battle. Seizing a boulder from the ground, Zeke caused a collapse of the hole in the north gate, blocking off the soldiers within Shiganshina from their horses to the north of the Walls. With the Beast Titan to the north and the Armored Titan in the city, the Survey Corps was faced with a war on two fronts.
The Beast Titan and the Armored Titan quickly began the battle, acting in unison. While Reiner climbed Wall Maria to approach and kill the horses on the other side, the Beast Titan commanded a horde of 2 - 3 meter Titans to charge the structures just to the north of Shiganshina where the Survey Corps' horses were standing by. Prioritizing the horses' safety, Commander Erwin sent Squads Dirk and Marlene to group up with Squad Klaus at the north gate to defend the horses while Squads Hange and Levi confronted the Armored Titan with their newly designed Thunder Spears. However, Levi would leave his team in Hange's command while he assisted the squads north of the Wall to eventually confront and defeat the Beast Titan, being the only one possibly capable of doing so. Armin would cooperate with Hange for a special strategy to defeat the Armored Titan. Eren would transform far from the Walls where the Colossus Titan could not possibly fall on him, and he would run to the south. Eren would then turn around and climb back over into Wall Maria's territory, continuing northwards for a short distance until he could turn southwards once more to flank the Beast Titan.
When the Armored Titan had reached the top of the Wall, Eren transformed into the Attack Titan in the middle of Shiganshina and began to ran southward. Left with the decision to kill the horses and let Eren escape, which would then result in the Beast Titan flanked, or to abandon the horses and confront Eren which will distract him from the former choice, Reiner chose the latter option and descended Wall Maria. Meanwhile, Levi assisted the new recruits to the north of the Wall in killing the smaller Titans in the town.
Seeing Reiner's choice to confront him, Eren and Reiner battled in the middle of Shiganshina as the Attack Titan and the Armored Titan. With Eren's new hardening powers, the rematch was much more in his favor than it was two months ago, his blows now having the power to shatter Reiner's armor. The skirmish went on for a short while until Eren gained some distance from Reiner in an open street. With Reiner out in the open, Squads Hange and Levi closed in with the Thunder Spears to blind the Armored Titan. With some reluctance to kill their former friend, the recruits launched a barrage of Thunder Spears into the Armored Titan's nape, completely blowing the flesh and armor away and destroying Reiner's brain. However, Reiner's Titan abilities saved his life once again, transferring his brain functions into his Titan's brain as a last resort. Using the last of his strength, Reiner's Titan let out a loud roar to signal for backup. Hearing his cries, Zeke took Bertolt from the barrel atop Pieck's back and threw it over Wall Maria for Bertolt to transform into the Colossus Titan, a move which could devastate the district. The squads within the district maneuvered away with all possible speed.
Bertolt's strategy was abandoned upon sighting Reiner's fallen Titan. Coming to his side, Bertolt saw that Reiner had miraculously survived the assault, and he asked for him to lie supine on the ground in preparation for the Colossus Titan's transformation. Hange led her squad to finish off the Armored Titan after placing command of Squad Levi in Armin's hands to confront Bertolt. Seeing that Bertolt did not transform, Armin attempted to negotiate with Bertolt. Hange and Moblit Berner stayed behind with Squad Levi to witness the confrontation, which yielded no results. When it had become clear that Bertolt was determined to kill the people of the Walls for reasons unknown, Mikasa went in for a killing blow, but Bertolt escaped. Hange and Moblit then made their way to rejoin the squad in confronting the Armored Titan. Using vertical maneuvering equipment to soar above the district, Bertolt at last transformed into the Colossus Titan, causing a devastating explosion to tear through the city. Squad Hange was entirely wiped out shortly after reaching Reiner's supine Titan form, and Hange narrowly avoided death when Moblit sent her into a well before he too was caught in the explosion. Squad Levi was not within the lethal radius of the blast, the last soldiers left within the city to face the Colossus Titan.
The Colossus Titan
Unaware of Squad Levi's position within the district, Bertolt began to aimlessly destroy the structures within the city, sending burning buildings up into the air to come crashing down in the streets. With no other soldiers left alive to assist in the attack on the Colossus Titan, Armin decided they should regroup with Commander Erwin and leave the Colossus Titan trapped within the district until it exhausted its strength and Bertolt would come out. However, Jean Kirstein pointed out that the Colossus would still be able to use the burning debris against the soldiers to the north of the Walls, catching the recruits in Squads Dirk, Marlene, and Klaus in a pincer attack. Armin gave command of the squad to Jean for the time being, and he decided their best move would be to make for the river in the city. As the Colossus Titan began to approach the northern Wall, Eren let out a roar to catch Bertolt's attention, but he was ignored. Squad Levi moved in to stop the Colossus Titan's advance, but Eren's Titan could not keep Bertolt from moving his legs. The Colossus Titan sent the Attack Titan soaring away with a kick, knocking Eren unconscious.
The remaining recruits of Squad Levi began an attack on the Colossus with their remaining Thunder Spears, but Bertolt's steam abilities prevented them from keeping a grapple on his Titan form and repelled the spears sent his way, wounding some recruits in the process. By this time, Reiner had recovered enough to return to the battle as the Armored Titan once again. As the others worried over the prospect of confronting Reiner and Bertolt at the same time, Armin noticed that the Colossus Titan's steam blast had reduced its muscle mass noticeably. Figuring out a plan to defeat Bertolt, Armin left to wake Eren up as the rest of Squad Levi confronted the Armored Titan.
While the other soldiers confronted Reiner, Armin woke up Eren in his Titan form and told him of his strategy to defeat Bertolt, which they carried out as planned. Eren slipped and fell to the ground below near the collapsed north gate while Armin approached the Colossus Titan, grappling to its teeth. Bertolt used his steam ability in an attempt to knock Armin away, but Armin was securely attached to Bertolt's Titan since the teeth would not degenerate in the steam blast.
Wanting to kill Armin quickly, Bertolt unleashed a tremendous explosion of continuous steam, but Armin refused to fall as his hair and flesh were burned away. Armin remained stuck to the Colossus Titan until he fell unconscious from his injuries, falling to the ground below. Bertolt turned his attention to Eren's Titan, but he soon discovered that it was a hardned shell of his Titan form left as a distraction. Eren used the moment to attack the Colossus Titan from behind, cutting Bertolt out of the nape. Eren returned to the ground with a limbless Bertolt, stopping by Armin's charred body.
Meanwhile, Reiner ran north towards Eren's position, but a Thunder Spear to his knee stopped him in his tracks. After regenerating his brain, Reiner could not remember anything of the past day since he and Bertolt had split up earlier that morning before sunrise and was therefore unaware of the Thunder Spears' danger. With very few Thunder Spears remaining, Jean formulated a plan to defeat Reiner with what they had left.
Two Thunder Spears would be used to unhinge Reiner's jaw at both sides, and a third would be sent into his mouth to blow Reiner out of his nape from within. Connie landed his target, but an attack from Reiner injured Sasha, who missed her mark. Luckily, Hange arrived at the scene in time and landed a Thunder Spear on the other side of his jaw, and Mikasa shot the final spear into Reiner's mouth, knocking him out of the nape. While Sasha's wounds were treated, the soldiers quickly blinded and dismembered Reiner.
The Beast Titan
While the two squads stationed within Shiganshina District confronted the Colossus and Armored Titans, the soldiers to the north of Wall Maria faced their own battle against the Beast Titan. The initial defense went smoothly as the recruits in Squads Dirk, Marlene, and Klaus cleared out the Titans in the right side of the town to the north of the inner gate. Shortly after Bertolt was sent into the district, Zeke began a new assault on the Survey Corps. Using crushed boulders gathered by Pieck, the Beast Titan bombarded the Survey Corps squads north of Wall Maria with devastating firepower. The experienced soldiers on the front lines were torn to pieces by Zeke's throws, and the survivors were left with no choice but to regroup under the cover of the buildings to the north. Erwin descended Wall Maria to regroup with Levi and the recruits.
With no knowledge of the situation of the squads within the district, Erwin and the others were left to assume escaping into Shiganshina would be impossible while the Colossus Titan roamed. At this time, Eren's Titan collided into the top of Wall Maria from the Colossus Titan's kick. The new recruits fell into a panic at the hopeless situation. Meanwhile, Captain Levi proposed gathering Eren and all survivors for a retreat while he confronted the Beast Titan, but Erwin proposed an alternate do-or-die strategy that would mean the defeat of the Beast Titan but also the deaths of the new recruits and possibly himself. Erwin faced great reluctance in this strategy, which would deprive him of his chance to see the basement that held the answers he had spent his life searching for. Levi reluctantly made the choice for Erwin, telling him to lead the recruits to their deaths while he attacked the Beast Titan. Erwin was grateful.
Erwin proposed his strategy to the new recruits, none of whom were ready to die in the proposed maneuver. Erwin admitted to the recruits that the means of their deaths would not matter, whether it was for the cause of the Survey Corps or in an attempt to escape with their lives. However, Erwin stated that their actions would give meaning to the lives of those who died before them, and the actions of those who would follow will give meaning to their own deaths. Moved by Erwin's words knowing that their demise was a certainty, the recruits followed Erwin's final strategy.
Mounting their horses, Commander Erwin led the recruits in a frontal charge against the Beast Titan, using signal flares to hinder the Beast Titan's aim as much as possible. Meanwhile, Captain Levi slaughtered the Titan blockade surrounding the north end of the city, using the Titans one by one to approach the Beast Titan standing in the center of the Titan line. Angered by the Survey Corps' willingness to die for their cause, Zeke continued in his bombardment unhindered by the smoke signals. Erwin was struck in the hip during the first bombardment, collapsing alongside many others. The second bombardment eliminated nearly all the rest of the recruits, leaving just three alive on their horses. A third and final bombardment eliminated the three recruits left, completely stopping the charge. Zeke realized afterwards that the Titans on his right side had fallen, and he was soon ambushed by Captain Levi. Underestimating Levi's abilities, Zeke was brutally overpowered and was quickly cut out of his Titan's nape.
With Zeke at his mercy, Levi wondered if any soldiers from Erwin's charge were left alive to receive the power of the Titans from the Titan serum entrusted to him. But before he could make a decision, Pieck came to Zeke's side and carried him away, escaping to Wall Maria while Zeke sent the remaining Titans after Levi. He immediately pursued them, slaughtering all Titans between him and Zeke.
Meanwhile, a lone recruit by the name of Floch remained miraculously uninjured from the Beast Titan's bombardments. Floch began to restlessly search the battlefield for any survivors, eventually coming across Erwin Smith, who was still alive but quickly bleeding out. Floch considered killing Erwin to put him out of his misery, but realized instead that he should be brought back with the Titan injection in Levi's possession. Hastily bandaging Erwin's injuries, Floch carried Erwin away from the battle and followed after Levi.
Final confrontations and insubordination
Mounting atop Pieck's Cartman, Zeke entered into Shiganshina District to search for the remaining warriors. He found Bertolt at Eren's mercy, and upon meeting each other the two recognized each other as individuals with the power of the Titans; Eren realized the man before him was the Beast Titan, and Zeke understood that the boy was none other than his half-brother. Seeing that Eren would not give up Bertolt, Zeke claimed that both he and Eren were victims of Grisha Yeager. Zeke left the scene upon seeing Levi pursuing, and he promised to one day return for Eren. Before Levi could continue pursuing Zeke, he required Eren's maneuvering equipment gas and spare blades. Eren prepared to give Levi the necessary supplies, but stopped everything after hearing Armin cough, still alive even after burning from the Colossus Titan's attack.
Elsewhere in the city, Hange and the rest of Squad Levi interrogated Reiner for information, receiving a letter left by Ymir for Historia. They debated keeping Reiner alive to pass his power to a surviving soldier, but Hange believed the conditions for keeping a Titan alive had not yet been met. Jean was upset at the possibility of letting a Titan power go to waste, so Hange ordered Mikasa to regroup with Eren and Armin to check on their status before the decision to kill Reiner would be made. Upon arriving at the scene, Mikasa saw Bertolt defeated and Armin near death, and she gave the signal to kill Reiner. Before it could be done, Zeke and Pieck found Reiner at Squad Levi's mercy and took him away from the scene. The three warriors left for Wall Maria to depart from the battlefield while Hange and Squad Levi headed for the others' location.
Captain Levi was prepared to give Eren the injection necessary to save Armin, but at that moment Floch arrived with Erwin who was also near death. When Levi announced that the injection would instead go to Erwin, Eren and Mikasa turned on Levi in an attempt to take the serum by force. Floch took Levi's side, expressing his reasoning for saving Erwin, but would not interfere while Mikasa had an exhausted Levi overpowered. When Hange and Squad Levi arrived at the scene, Eren and Mikasa were pulled away from Levi and Armin, though everyone sympathized with their shared agony, Hange in particular. Levi ordered everyone present to leave the area while he gave Erwin the injection, but once he was alone he began to have second thoughts. Realizing that Erwin had already given up on his dreams and accepted death while Armin still had dreams to live out with his friends, he chose to save Armin's life. After receiving the injection, Armin transformed into a Titan and ate Bertolt, who cried out for help in his dying screams. Armin left his Titan form fully healed, and Erwin died of his wounds.
Once Erwin's corpse was respectively covered and put to rest in an abandoned home, the nine surviving members of the Survey Corps regrouped atop Wall Maria, and Sasha's wounds were further treated. Armin eventually regained consciousness, but with no recollection of the battle after Bertolt's transformation into the Colossus Titan. Eren recounted the forgotten events to him, and the survivors discussed the implications of Erwin's death. Once all matters were settled, Eren, Mikasa, Levi, and Hange went into the ruined city in search of the old Yeager family household and Grisha Yeager's basement while the others kept watch atop the Walls.
The four discovered that the Yeager home was untouched by the Colossus Titan's destruction. After clearing away the wreckage, untouched in the five years since the fall of Wall Maria, the basement door was found. The key Eren received from his father five years ago did not work on the door, which had to be kicked through instead. The soldiers discovered that the basement appeared to be a typical doctor's office containing medicines and medical reference texts. However, Mikasa discovered a secret keyhole in Grisha's desk which fit Eren's key exactly. Inside was a drawer with a false bottom, and beneath there were three books preserved in peppermint oil and charcoal: "The Early Life of Grisha Yeager", "Titans and Everything Known of History", and "Information About the World Beyond the Walls". Within the first book, the four discovered a photograph, an technology unknown to them, depicting a younger Grisha with his first wife Dina Fritz and their son Zeke.
Reading Grisha's story, the survivors learned of their true nature as the "Subjects of Ymir", the people of the nation of Eldia who served the royal family, descendants of the first Titan Ymir Fritz. Eldia had ruled the world in ancient times until they were defeated by Marley in the Great Titan War, their land now reduced to the cramped space within the three Walls on the island of Paradis. Marley now ruled the continent across the sea, segregating the Eldians into internment zones such as the one where Grisha was raised in his youth.
As a young adult, Grisha joined the Eldia Restorationists after learning his sister had been killed needlessly by Marley. He married the royal-blooded Dina Fritz and together they had a child named Zeke whom they planned to give the Founding Titan in order to save Eldia, but when he sent his son Zeke to become a warrior he and his allies were betrayed and sent to Paradis to become Titans. However, Grisha was saved by Eren Krueger, the "Attack Titan" and a spy who had been aiding the revivalists. Grisha was given the task of taking the Founding Titan from the royal family to restore Eldia eighteen years ago, and he inherited the Attack Titan from Krueger.
Once the survivors read through the information Grisha had left behind, they returned to Trost District in the afternoon. As consequence for violation of military law, Eren and Mikasa were imprisoned. During their time spent behind bars, Eren looked into his father's memories and compared them to the knowledge gained from the basement, and he confirmed that his father's writings were consistent with the truth. Furthermore, Eren realized that Dina Fritz, his father's first wife, was in fact the Titan which ate his mother.
Ten days before the scheduled ending of their sentence, Eren and Mikasa were released from prison in order to attend an upcoming military gathering. Before the meeting, Queen Historia Reiss was given the letter from Ymir, which told of her past as an orphan girl named after Eldia's goddess-matriarch.
Soon afterwards, the leaders of the military of the Walls gathered together to discuss the findings from Grisha Yeager's basement. When Grisha's writings were matched with knowledge gained from the Reiss family and Eren's memories, the leaders concluded that the only way to defend against their enemies beyond the Walls, essentially all the world against Eldia, would be to use the Founding Titan to unleash the Wall Titans, an impossible task while Eren Yeager held the dormant power. Eren thought of any possible means to use the Founding Titan, and he recalled the moment two months ago when he struck the hand of Dina's Titan, unleashing the Founding Titan in the final hours of conflict in the Wall Rose invasion. Eren concluded that touching a royal-blooded Titan may be enough to use the Founding Titan, but he chose to keep his discovery secret out of concern for Historia's safety.
After some debate, the leaders of the military concluded that the information about the world beyond the Walls must be delivered to the public. The Berg Newspapers handled distribution of the information, and reception was mixed. While some accepted the information as fact, others believed it to be laughable falsehoods. Some believed the newly released information to be a military conspiracy. Once the basement information had been made public, the nine surviving members of the Survey Corps were honored in ceremony.
Throughout the following months, the Titan guillotine outside of Trost District was put to continuous use in clearing out the Titans from Wall Maria. With the gate in Shiganshina District permanently sealed, the Titan activity within Wall Maria continued to drop until the land was completely cleared of Titans by the first snowfall of the year. After the winter months had passed, the safety of Wall Maria was publicly confirmed. Around springtime, some residents of Wall Rose set out to repopulate the abandoned districts of Wall Maria.
One year after the battle of Trost District, the Survey Corps set out for an expedition beyond Wall Maria, the first of its kind in six years. As predicted by Commander Hange, the land beyond the Walls was nearly completely devoid of any Titans since the majority had entered into the Walls five years ago. Following the trail left by a crawling Titan, the Survey Corps eventually reached the "borderline", a Marley military structure where Eldian captives were turned into Titans. Near to the borderline, the Survey Corps finally reached the shores of the ocean, the last barrier between Eldia and their enemies.
Marley's defeat at the battle of Shiganshina District significantly reduced the nation's military power. With both the Female Titan and the Colossus Titan lost, the weakening of Marley's strength soon became known to other nations of the world. Having lost two out of their initial seven Titans with no Founding Titan to make up for their lost power, the Paradis Island Operation was temporarily abandoned.