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Attack on Titan, vol. 13, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
The Special corp makes it back to the wall, with heavy casualties. Erwin Smith is going into shock, Mikasa can't walk, and Armin is speculating that Eren is the one that caused the wild giants to attack Reiner. Eren vows to use his powers to defeat the giants, then Christa staggers up, claiming to be Historia, and yells at Eren to go back out and rescue Ymir. The others tell her that Ymir had voluntarily chosen her own path, and Jean asks "Christa" what's wrong. Histeria goes hysterical, saying that "Christa is dead."
(Erwin Smith makes a slow recovery after losing his arm. He talks with Commander Pixis and Levi about what to do next.)
The narrator tells us that under the second wall of Wall Rose, there's a cave town that has been accepting a lot of refugees, and that there's a growing problem of too many people, not enough food, and a military force willing to shoot to kill to keep the peace. Then the scene changes to a room where Erwin is bandaged up, missing most of his right arm, and Levi and Pixis are giving him status updates. They're joined by Hange and Connie. Hange had gone to Connie's village to follow up on the situation there, and had used a family portrait supplied by Connie to confirm that the giant trapped on its back in one ruined house is probably Connie's mother. Somehow, someone has the ability to turn people into giants, but it's not certain that all of the giants they've been fighting had started out as people. Hange speculates that there's some connection between the human brain and the giant's body, and that this may be why severing the spine is the only way to kill them. Other bits of proof include the lack of blood in the village, and no spit-up piles of human bodies (since the giants can't digest what they eat). As they're talking about this, Levi catches Erwin smiling happily in a daze before recovering his composure. Erwin asks where Eren and Historia are, and Hange says they're somewhere safe.
(Zoe Hange rushes to find Priest Nick. Sanes and his partner claim Nick was killed by a burglar, but Hange notices that the priest's fingernails have all been torn out.)
The scene switches to a farm house that the team is spiffing up. Sasha is having a field day bringing in food, and trying to pocket loaves of bread undetected. Eren remembers when Levi's team had cleaned up their own HQ building not that long ago. Levi arrives and they start talking plans. Part of the idea is still to block up the hole in Wall Maria using one of Eren's discarded giant husks. The problem with this approach is that, so far, all of the giant husks they know of have completely dissipated after a few minutes. Hange throws a second wet blanket on the fire - The Wall Priest, Nick, was killed that morning. He and an assistant had gone to Nick's room, where two members of the King's guard were blocking the door to what they called a crime scene. They claimed that a burglar had broken into the room, and killed Nick when he was discovered in the act. Hange notices that Nick's face had been badly beaten and all his fingernails ripped out. He and the assistant leave, saying that they believe the story, but Hange vows revenge. Levi commits the team to doing what's necessary to train Eren to strengthen his giant skills, while discovering what had happened to Nick. Then we get Historia's story. She was the daughter of a maid. Her mother would just sit in a field and read, then occasionally get dressed up and meet some man for the evening. Her grandparents ignored her and the local kids would throw rocks at her. She tried playing with her mother once, but the woman pushed her away into the dirt and said that she wished she never had a baby. However, Historia was able to find peace in playing with the horses. One night, a bunch of men arrived. One was Rod Reiss, her father. One of the other men, a tall, lean, grizzled guy, grabbed her mother, who screamed that she has nothing to do with the girl. The grizzled guy asks Rod if this is true, and Rod nods agreement. Histeria's mother yells that she wishes the girl had never been born, and the guy slits her throat from behind with a knife. The guy prepares to kill Historia, too, but Rod tells him to wait, adding that she'll be allowed to live if she changes her name to Christa and goes to live somewhere else far away. A few years after that, she joined the military and met everyone in the Special team.
(An unnamed (so far) group arrive at the farm to clean up some loose ends, when Histeria was a child.)
Eren turns into a giant, but collapses. Hange has been conducting experiments to see what the boy can put up with. His first shapechange turned into a 15-meter tall giant who could speak a little, write a little, and build a house with logs. After turning human, he shapechanged again right away, but was only 13 meters tall, and tried to eat the log house. The third time, he was just 10 meters tall, and his human butt was sticking out of the giant back of the giant's neck. None of the husks lasted long before dissipating. The conclusion is that he can't be used to seal the hole in the wall. As he's thinking about this, Eren remembers his father holding a key, then he gets a vision of a woman who looked like Histeria sitting in front of a mirror, brushing her hair. The vision fades and he can't recall it afterward. Hange says that they'll change focus to try to find out why the Reiss family would know anything about giants, rather than the King being the one with the answers.
(Dimo, the merchant, arranges for one of his wagons to slip over a cliff conveniently close to where the Special corp is waiting below.)
Erwin visits the central city, and he tries to talk with the king. But three of the king's advisers just laugh him off. Erwin suspects that the upper levels of the government have gotten corrupt and are interested only in maintaining the status quo. At about this time, Levi gives Erwin's written instructions to the team to read, then burns them. The other members of the team are stunned, but willing to do what they're told. They leave the farm after dark, and notice some men with torches approaching it and going inside to search for clues. The team goes to town the next day, where the townspeople attack Levi, and kidnap Eren and Historia. When the townspeople look around after the dust settles, the rest of the team has also disappeared. They follow the wagon holding the kidnap victims, who turn out to actually be Armin in a wig and dress, and a different Survey member that kind of looks like Eren. The kidnappers are captured by Levi and company, including the ring leader - Dimo Reeves. Dimo tries to act like an innocent flunky, until he and Mikasa recognize each other from an altercation back when Eren first became a giant. Elsewhere, Historia has a dream where an older girl with long black hair had visited her on the farm when she was a child and read a book to her. She wakes up, and she and Eren wait for the signal to come out of hiding. Later, Levi takes Dimo up to the top of the wall, and the merchant talks about how his town has gone to the dogs since the wall was breached. He's working with the king's guards now because that's the only way to make enough money to support his family and neighbors. Levi offers a partnership to go up against the king's guards, and Dimo happily accepts it in exchange for getting Eren and Histeria. That night, Reeves takes his caravan of wagons through the mountains during a heavy rain. Two of the passengers in one wagon are Djel Sanes and his partner, who are the two guys that Hange encountered outside of Priest Nick's room. The wagon slips off the narrow road and falls into a ravine below. On the other side of the river at the bottom of the ravine, Levi and crew fish the bodies out of the water and disappear into the woods. Sanes' other comrades up at road level think it's an accident, but they have to wait until later to effect a rescue. When Sanes comes to, he's strapped to a chair, and Hange and Levi are bringing out instruments of torture.
Summary: The focus of the story quickly jumps from "defeat the giants" to "why does the Reiss family have all the answers regarding the giants, but the King doesn't?" The implication is that maybe the King is an imposter and Histeria could be used to replace him. Which might make getting the answers a bit easier. But that's going to require a lot more Carnage.