• Published 1st Sep 2013
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A Midsummer Night's Dream. - Killbles



Midsummer Night, a Mark-II Jaeger, finds itself in the inky depths of an unknown ocean after a botched brawl. Seems they may have got a bit more than they bargined for though...

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Switchback

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Chapter one: Switchback

“Shane.”

Shane mumbled an incoherent response and rolled over in his bunk.

“Shane, get up!” The voice said again.

“Mahhyuu wha?” Shane groaned, keeping his eyes resolutely shut. While not exactly comfortable, his bunk was at least warm; something to rest of the shatterdome had little to speak of.

“Get up you sloth.” The voice said again, Shane’s waking senses finally recognising that it belonged to his brother, Michael.

“Five more minutes.” He murmured.

“No, now.” His older brother ordered. “We’ve got a mission.”

Shane was suddenly wide awake, nearly falling out of his bunk in excitement. The allure of warmth gone, he hauled himself out of his bunk. He ran a hand through his short, sandy brown hair and fixed an eye on his older brother. “Kaiju?” He asked simply.

“No, scientific mission.” Michael said, dropping a dossier on Shane’s lap. “Read it, we’re launching at 0800,”

“Bah, what a load of shit.” Shane muttered, wishing he curl up and return to his bunk. “What are we doing?”

“Testing some sort of quantum tunnelling device.” Michael said, reading from another dossier. “Apparently it allows us to make short, controlled teleports.”

“Wha- you serious?” Shane asked.

“You know Dr Karkov?” Michael asked. “Apparently that nutjob got it working and the Marshall wants to try it out on a real Jaeger.”

“Christ.” Shane muttered. “Bit risky isn’t it?”

“Karkov reckons it works fine.”

“Urgh, Karkov is a loony. Don’t tell me we have to be the Jaeger when he does it?”

“Yep.”

“Aww shit.”

“Don’t worry I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Michael said cheerfully. “Come on, let’s go get some food. If some teleporter thingy is going to blow up in our face I’d rather do it with a full stomach.”

After a rushed breakfast, the brothers made their way into the Jaeger bays where the last two Jaegers the Anchorage shatterdome possessed idled. Closer to the entrance lurked Chrome Brutus, a Mark-3 Canadian Jaeger which even when powered down, radiated power and strength. As its name implied, the Jaeger was a brutal fighter; she relied on punches, head-butts and on one occasion, a body slam to bring down Kaiju. It had racked up three kills since its deployment, only one more than their own Jaeger.

“They really are big girls aren’t they?” Shane asked absently, staring up at Chrome Brutus’ reinforced head.

“It’s something you never get used to.” Michael agreed, strolling past the sleeping giant. They walked past an empty bay before reaching their own Jaeger, Midsummer Night.

“Beautiful isn’t she?” Michael whispered.

“You get far too attached to your machines.” Shane shot back, admiring the Jaeger regardless. The only American Mark-II still in service, Midsummer Night was based around one of the older Mark-1 models, Coyote Tango. Unlike the Mark-I though, she had a slightly larger, less tapered conpod along with broader shoulders and a thicker chest. Her heavier armour meant she was a bit slower but much, much more durable. In place of the two large mortars Coyote Tango carried, Midsummer Night had a pair of short range railguns propped up on its shoulders. A long, wickedly sharp wrist blade was recessed into each of the Jaeger’s underarms, giving it a reasonable, if somewhat risky weapon for melee. A small, rarely used energy caster was built into the right arm, sticking out like a neglected middle child would at a family meeting. Shane watched impassively as a dozen engineers and workmen attached what looked like a large, bulky backpack to the Jaeger’s spine.

“I’m guessing that’s our dooby whatsit?” he asked.

“Quantum tunnelling device, yes.” Michael said a sigh. “Didn’t you read the brief at breakfast?”

“No. Why would I?” He asked, thrusting his numb hands into his pockets and glancing at a large clock set into the wall. “We’re doing some probably dangerous scientific test in a Jaeger, pretty stupid waste of resources if you ask me. Less I know the better.”

“Look, Shane-.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Shane muttered, glancing back at the clock. “Come on, let’s go suit up. Nearly launch time.”

***

“Morning Sweetie, how are we doing today?” Michael asked jauntily as he strode into the conpod atop the Jaeger. Unlike many other Jaegers such as Gipsy Danger or Crimson Typhoon, Midsummer Night’s head wasn’t designed to be removable, necessitating the pilots climb to the top of the Jaeger before entering.

“Good morning, Pilot. All systems nominal.” the onboard A.I. said back, its voice as monotonous and dull as ever. Michael had dubbed the computer ‘Sweetie’ when he had first stepped into the Jaeger four years ago, a habit that slightly irked Shane. The duo stepped into the center of the con-pod and clamped their feet into the Jaeger. A pair of uniformed technicians stepped in behind them and fastened the back of their drivesuits to the control rig. A series of dull thuds reverberated through their suits as the bolts fastened into place.

“Good morning gentlemen.” The crisp, professional tones of Marshall Pentecost came through the drivesuit’s helmet speakers “As you know, today we’re undergoing a scientific exercise. I have Dr. Karkov from our science division with us today to provide support where necessary. Your orders are to proceed to the waypoint on your map and rendezvous with RV Equinox. Further instructions will be given there.”

“Pilots.” The Russian scientist accompanying them on the mission said, his voice slipping into the conpod like coarse sandpaper.

“Good morning, comrade.” Shane joked. He and Michael had meet the quiet, usually reserved scientist around the shatterdome previously and neither held a particularly high opinion of him. The fact that the Marshall had green lit this ridiculous plan of his didn’t sit well with Shane at all.

“That wall fell many years ago, Mr. O’connell.” Dr Karkov snapped tersely, Shane’s offhanded comment striking a nerve.

“Hey, where’s the socialist spirit comrade?” Shane continued.

“Just do your job, yankee, and I’ll do mine.”

The link went dead, the faint crackle of speaker static being replaced by a low rumble as Midsummer Night’s crawler coughed into life. A faint sense of vertigo overcame them as the Jaeger slowly rolled forward.

“You don’t have to antagonise him all the time.” Michael admonished as he checked several of the Jaeger’s systems manually, a habit he’d picked up after a faulty actuator in Midsummer Night’s arm had nearly broken down a wall in the Jaeger’s bay last year. A trickle of sunlight entered the conpod as the massive doors to the shatterdome slid open, revealing a dreary and fog covered harbour. Their crawler rolled forward, undaunted by the choppy water and almost solid wall of fog that greeted it.

“He called me a coward so I called him a dirty communist.” Shane said simply.

“Right.” Michael muttered, double checking the hull seals around the legs as the Jaeger’s toes lapped at the churning water outside the Shatterdome. A small helicopter buzzed overhead like a tiny gnat, presumably guiding the crawler down the ramp and into the choppy water that stretched out before them.

Shane whistled lowly as a small bank of fog cleared away from the shore line, revealing another metal giant tied down onto the deck of a cargo ship.

“Looks like Gipsy’s finally going to Oblivion Bay.” He remarked, noting the torn arm and shattered conpod atop the once proud Jaeger. He could still clearly recall the memory of Gipsy Danger striding into its last battle the previous year, the Beckett brother’s bantering away like usual. The sight of the veteran Jaeger’s battered and broken body being towed back into the shatterdome with one less pilot had not been a pleasant one.

“I’m going to miss her.” Michael said, a twinge of jealousy mixing with his sadness. Shane nodded, Michael had always been a little envious of the other Jaeger’s speed. Midsummer Night, on the other hand, was not known for her agility, her pilots preferring to stay out of protracted grapples with Kaiju and instead use the pair of heavy railguns mounted on the Jaeger’s shoulders to gut their opponents from range.

“Prepare for neural handshake.” Pentecost said abruptly, bringing the brothers out of their reverie.

Shane tossed a look at Michael. “This’ll be a blast. This time though, I’ll be fine not having to see your first three girlfriends.”

Michael chuckled. “Like you’re one to talk. Ready?”

“Please, after you.” Shane said, an amused look momentarily gracing his features. He took in a deep breath, exhaling slowly as he prepared himself to mind-meld with his brother.

“Neural handshake… initiated.” The A.I. droned as a wave of blue light filled their minds. Flashes of their pasts rose up, flowing from one memory to the next before either could stop and consider them. Michael felt a pang of embarrassment as a rather saucy moment with one of his previous girlfriends flashed before his eyes and vanished, replaced by a flash of them piloting Midsummer Night together in combat.

“Neural link complete. Handshake strong and holding.” The A.I. intoned as the blue wave of memories slowly faded from their vision.

“Calibrating right hemisphere.” Shane said, bringing the Jaeger’s right arm into a defensive position.

“Calibrating left hemisphere.” Michael replied, bringing the other arm simultaneously. They brought their fists together with a crash of metal, their minds and the metal body of the Jaeger now one.

“Calibration complete. Enjoy your trip.”

“Thanks, Sweetie.” Michael chimed, bringing a large scale map onto the conpod’s forward display. The map expanded until Cook Inlet met the Gulf of Alaska, some 300 kilometres from where they were standing. A small blip marking the RV Equinox pulsed feebly out near Kalgin Island a ‘mere’ 125 kilometres distant.

“Don’t tell me we have to walk all that way, isn’t that what the choppers are for?” Shane complained, a navigation course appearing overlayed on the map.

“You see all this fog? Those choppers can’t operate in this weather. Tell me, would you rather walk it for a couple of hours or end up as some crater in the side of a mountain?” Michael deadpanned.

“Walk.” Shane muttered ruefully. “Let’s just get this over and done with.”

“Now that’s what I want to hear!”

***

Kaiju detection network station – Tokyo shatterdome

Frank rubbed his eyes tiredly and refocused them on the multitude of screens in front of him. It was an early morning graveyard shift and like every early morning graveyard shift, it was boring. While most of the other shatterdome personnel had retired for the night, he and six others watched the ring of sensor buoys and drones that kept an eternal vigil over the breach. He yawned and checked his watch again, frustrated at how slowly time was passing.

“Hey, Frank. Coffee?” One of the Japanese men asked. Jiro, if Frank remembered correctly.

“Yeah, thanks.” He said with an appreciative nod. He arrived in Tokyo two years ago and while he found the other late night workers friendly, he had never really connected with any of them. Frank let his mind wander wistfully, thinking of his old flat back in London… No Kaiju there to ruin his day.

“Anything yet?” Jiro asked, returning with a large mug of coffee in each hand.

“Almost sounds like you want to have a Kaiju pop up.”

Jiro shook his head. “No, no. Just makes shift interesting, don’t you think?”

Frank shrugged. “Suppose so.” He consulted a table taped to the console. “The lab boys reckon we might get another one in the next few weeks.”

“What class you reckon?”

“Hell if I know, I’d be a bloody relief for some more CAT 1s though. Mind you, the CAT 3’s put up a good fight against the Jaegers which can be great fun to watch when the Jaegers win.” He smiled, feeling a little guilty for taking pleasure in the act of watching the Jaeger pilots fight for their lives. Frank took a sip of the coffee. “You see the clips of that CAT 4 fighting in Manila last year?”

“Oh yes, very good. Horizon Brave was very skilled.”

“A Mark 1 holding against a CAT 4? Incredible. I thought those Chinese pilots were toast.”

“They would be if those other two Jaegers weren’t there.”

Striker and Gipsy? Yeah, great show by both of them.”

“Sad that Gipsy is dead.” Jiro said sadly.

“Yeah, she was a real fighter.” Frank said wistfully, staring at the console blankly. A sudden squawk from the machine made him nearly fall out of chair in surprise.

“Oh please don’t be a Kaiju.” Frank muttered, scrambling to look at the display. The sensor grid had detected a large upwelling of water from around the breach, an effect usually caused by a Kaiju emerging from the fiery pit.

“Or from the volcanic vents around it…” Frank murmured, unsure if the reading the sensors had picked up was a Kaiju or just a vent letting off some steam. “What do you think Jiro?” He asked, his hand hovering uncertainly above the general alert button.

“Tectonic activity maybe?” The Japanese technician suggested.

Frank scratched his chin and examined his seismographic data carefully. “There have been several shifts over the last week. Could be possible I guess…”

“So no Kaiju?”

“We’ll wait until it reaches the outer ring before we sound the alert. If we get nothing it was just a false reading, if we have a contact it’ll be a Kaiju for sure. Not worth mobilising for what is probably just a tectonic shift.”

“Probably.” Jiro echoed. “How big?”

“2300 tons. Still waiting for a radiation reading…” Frank said tensely. A few seconds passed and the tell-tale radiation spike that followed the upsurgence of water eluded them. “Well… that sort of sells it for me..” Frank muttered, scratching the side of his head.

“Then what do we do?”

Frank pondered briefly. If there really was a Kaiju it would take several hours to reach the outer ring of sensor buoys. Even then, it would still be another six hours or so before it could conceivably make landfall. He slowly withdrew his hand from the general alert.

“We’ll keep an eye on it. No point causing a fuss if it’s nothing. Let it reach the outer ring and if we get anything we hit the alert.”

“Okay.” Jiro said with a slow breath. The sudden tension seemed to recede slightly as the two hesitantly decided there wasn’t a 300 foot monster after their blood just yet.

“Hey, speaking of Kaiju, you reckon Striker could take out a CAT 4 by itself?” Jiro asked, trying to usher back in a sense of normality.

Frank took an unsteady sip of his coffee. “I'd rather not think about it.”

***

Near Kalgin Island, Cook Inlet - Alaska

Midsummer Night is at the rendezvous point. RV Equinox, you copy?” Michael said as the Jaeger ground to a halt. They were about waist deep in the water and the ever-present fog had cut visibility down to a couple of hundred metres. They had nearly stepped on a small fishing vessel on the way out, a timely blast of their fog horn finally warning the tiny vessel of their presence.

“Loud and clear boys!” The long Texan drawl of the research ship’s captain answered back. “We’ll be with you lickity-spit.”

“This guy is going to get on my nerves real quick if he keeps talking like that.” Shane muttered.

“I’d be more worried about this fog. The scanners work fine but I can’t see shit.” Michael said, the Jaeger’s head tilting down slightly to look at the swell around its waist. “Our Texan friend could be right next to us and we wouldn’t know.”

“I’d be more worried about his whole expedition. I’m not sure anyone would want to have some experimental pack… thingy, strapped to their back and be lugging it around.”

“Didn’t you read any of the brief? We’re not the first run. They tested it on Brawler Yukon’s remains and it worked fine. Mostly.”

“Don’t see why we’re the guinea pigs here.” Shane grumbled.

“Again, all in the brief.” Michael admonished, watching the radar as RV Equinox crept towards them. “We should be starting soon.” He said, his eyes flashing over the unfamiliar control panel that had been welded in an ad-hoc fashion into the conpod.

Midsummer Night, test procedures are about to begin. Fasten your jock-straps boys, this is going to get fun!” The captain of the Equinox said with seemingly bottomless enthusiasm.

“Pilot, activate the quantum tunnelling device. There should be a marker over the appropriate control. This will feed power from your reactor into the device.” Dr Karkov said. “I’ll give you instructions on how to operate the device as the test continues. Equinox is standing by to assist and observe.”

“It’s online.” Michael said after examining the panel and flicking the appropriate switch.

“Good, the capacitors need time to charge. Once the level is at 40%, a small jump should be possible.”

“Define small, doctor.” Michael asked as the power levels rose to 20%.

“Maybe move Jaeger only a few hundred metres.”

“Only.” Shane scoffed. “What about at 100%?”

“Don’t know, have not got results yet.” Karkov said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Shane asked, slightly worried.

“Simple. We did not find Jaeger.” Karkov said simply, a trace of amusement in his usually stoic voice.

“Christ!” Shane swore. “I can’t believe Pentecost let that madman play with our Jaeger.”

“Charge at 40%.” Michael said, ignoring his brother’s reservations. “What now?”

Equinox has laid a beacon for you to use. Lock the targeting computer onto it and press the button labelled test.” He said, adding something in Russian onto the end.

Shane’s face dropped and shot a concerned look at Michael. “He didn’t just say what I think he said did he?”

“Well I never really believed in god but I sure as hell hope this works!” Michael said, slamming his fist down on the button marked ‘TEST’ before Shane could object. A curious sensation tugged at them, it felt like their stomachs had dropped a few metres while the rest of their bodies were being pulled apart. Everything flashed dark for an instant before the cool lighting of the conpod and the thick grey fog swirled back into view. A sharp crack sounded through the Jaeger as air around the machine was suddenly forced aside by several thousand tons of metal appearing. The Jaeger swayed drunkenly as its pilot’s tried to regain their composure.

“Well, that went well. I think.” Michael said shakily, raggedly panting as he shook of the strange sensation of their short journey. “Where are we?”

Shane brought the display up with a shaking arm. “On the beacon. Looks like the commie knows his stuff after all.” He said with a nervous laugh.

“I heard that.” The Russian scientist growled. “We move onto next test-.”

“I think not.” The voice of Pentecost said, cutting over the top of the Russian. “We have a situation.”

“Sir?” Michael asked.

“We have confirmed breach. Category 3, 2300 tons. Codename: Switchback.”

“Where is it heading?” Shane asked carefully.

“Seattle. We’re airlifting you to defend the city. We’re starting to warm up Chrome Brutus but it will be another hour until she’s ready to deploy.”

“What about Mammoth Apostle or Romeo Blue?”

Mammoth is in the middle of a repair cycle. Romeo blue is already en route.” Pentecost replied. “The Carryalls are on their way to pick you up.”

“So much for not being able to fly out here…” Shane muttered ruefully.

“This is an emergency, the Kaiju is about six hours away. You’ll be pushing it to get there in time.” Pentecost snapped.

“Why didn’t we see it sooner?” Michael stammered.

“Faulty buoys in our first sensor ring. The technicians decided to not call it in. Our second ring picked it up straight away though. We’ll let you know more as we get it. Any questions?”

“How long till the choppers arrive?” Shane asked

“Around fifteen minutes. Get ready to roll, this is going to be tight.”

***

Seattle airspace – Washington State

Tight was an understatement. The flight down to Seattle had taken at least six hours and until they got there, Romeo Blue would be alone to face a Kaiju that would probably outclass it. ‘Heck’ Shane thought, ‘It’ll probably outclass us.’

“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.” Michael said reassuringly. “We’ll paste this guy and go home.”

“Ten minutes to drop.” One of the helicopter pilots radioed to them.

“How long till the Kaiju hits?”

“A few minutes. Romeo Blue has positioned itself off the city and is waiting for it.” The pilot responded.

“Shane, get Romeo Blue on the horn. Let them know we’re nearly there.”

“Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Shane said poetically..

“Knock it off you dope.” Michael laughed.

“Rodger that. Romeo blue, Midsummer Night is ten minutes to drop. Keep some Kaiju for us okay?”

“Rodger that, good to hear from you.” One of the pilots, Bruce, if Shane remembered correctly answered. “We’ll got a visual on the bastard. Engaging now.”

“How big is it?” Shane asked.

“Must be about three hundred foot at least.” Bruce answered, his reply punctuated by a series rapid thumps as the Jaeger’s chest mounted Gatling guns opening fire. Like Midsummer Night, Romeo Blue specialised at ranged combat. “Fast though.” Bruce swore.

“Just hold on, we’re coming.”

“Better hurry up Shaney, we’re having a tough time down here.” Bruce snarked. “Whoa! Damn thing just blew past us, didn’t even stop to engage.”

“Pilot! Take us into the city, the Kaiju just bypassed Romeo in the bay.”

“Rodger that, coming in for the drop.”

Shane looked above at his brother. “You ready for this?”

Michael grimaced “Urban environment, fast as hell Kaiju… what could possibly go wrong?”

***

“You’re released! Good luck down there guys, call us when you need pickup.” A pilot said as the cables supporting Midsummer Night below the helicopters detached. The Jaeger hit the ground running, the several thousand tons of metal landing with surprising grace.

‘Romeo, where are you?”

“We’re entering the city now… keep an eye out, this thing is deadly fast.” Bruce replied. “It’s roen through the CBD already.”

“Will do, thanks for the heads up.” Michael said quietly, the head of Midsummer Night cautiously turning to search for the Kaiju.

“Damn, there it is! Where’d it come from?” Bruce cried over the radio. A loud roar and the screech of metal came over the radio.

“Damn, we gotta get over there!” Shane said, Midsummer Night breaking into a run. The Jaeger pounded down the streets at full speed, skyscrapers rushing past the conpod as it went to Romeo Blue’s aid. A roar of pain came over the radio.

“Come on Romeo, what’s going on?” Michael yelled, manoeuvring the Jaeger between the buildings like it was a sports car. They skidded past a building and came into view of the distressed Jaeger. They watched in horror as the vaguely lizard-like Kaiju ripped an arm from the machine and hurled it away. Before Romeo could bring its other arm to block, Switchback grabbed the Jaeger’s head between its jaws and ripped to conpod off in one clean bite. Pilotless, the body of Romeo Blue toppled over like a house of cards in a strong wind, nearly trapping one of the Kaiju’s legs beneath it.

Romeo is down!” Shane yelled unnecessarily.

“Sweetie, railguns online. Now!” Michael barked, eager to avenge Romeo blue.

“Railgun system online. Capacitor at full charge in twenty seconds.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be quick enough.” Shane muttered as Switchback hurled the shattered conpod of Romeo Blue with a casual toss of its head. The six glowing blue eyes of the Kaiju locked on Midsummer Night and without hesitation, the Kaiju barrelled towards the Jaeger. Midsummer Night darted aside from the headlong charge with metres to spare and followed up with a punch to Switchback’s gut as the Kaiju tried to turn around. They grabbed one of Switchback’s forearms as it clumsily lashed out them and pounded their other fist into the Kaiju’s soft underbelly twice more. Roaring in frustration, Switchback swung its tail around in a deadly arc, nearly knocking Midsummer Night’s legs out from underneath it. Seizing the initiative, the monstrous Kaiju pinned the Jaeger with a claw and snapped ferociously at the conpod, eager to reach the pilots inside.

“Capacitors charged, ready to fire.”

“Back off you ugly son of a bitch!” Shane yelled, firing the railguns point blank into the Kaiju. Switchback must have sensed the threat though and leapt off at the last second, only one of the shells clipping the Kaiju across the chest. An unnatural screech of pain echoed around the city as the heat of the solid tungsten round burned away at its flesh and cauterised the wound. Before Midsummer Night could steady itself, Switchback hurled itself at them again; the two giants tumbling across the city like two dancers locked in a deadly grapple.

“We’ve got to get him off us.” Michael gasped as one of Switchback’s claws dug deep into the Jaegers chest and pierced the armour there with contemptuous ease. Midsummer Night punched the creature’s jaw several times, shattering teeth and spraying the curious neon blue blood the Kaiju had across their armour. Switchback snapped back furiously, refusing to release its death grip and biting deep into their hull wherever it could reach. With a savage roar it tore open the left arm, making Michael cry out in pain.

Shane wrapped the right arm around its jaw, trying to hold it shut before it could rip the other limb off.

“We need to do something fast or we’re not getting out of this, Mike!”

“Dump power into the quantum tunnelling device” Shane yelled, holding one of Switchback’s forearms back. He parried the claw away and activated the arms inbuilt wrist blade, unleashing a risky counter attack. The move paid off and Switchback’s right forearm was almost severed by the blow. A torrent of blood spilled from the wound, covering both combatants in an almost comical shade of blue liquid.

“We’re running?! What about Seattle?!” Shane asked, his grip on Switchback’s jaw failing as the Kaiju’s remaining forearm started to pry it off.

“Just do it!” Michael roared as the Kaiju’s claws dug further into their chest. “Chrome Brutus will be here soon to finish the job.”

“Dumping power.” Shane said quickly, hitting the button that controlled the capacitors for the quantum tunnelling device. The power levels rose sharply as the thirsty capacitors lapped the charge up from their nuclear reactor.

“Capacitors at 50% charge.” The A.I. warned.

“Another few seconds…” Michael groaned.

“We can go now!” Shane yelled as the Kaiju freed its jaw from their right arm. It snapped at their head again, missing by a mere meter.

“Capacitors at 80% capacity.”

“Michael!” Shane roared.

“Capacitors at 100% capacity.”

Michael’s fist slammed down against the ‘TEST’ button.

***

Anchorage LOCCENT- Alaska

“What just happened?” Marshal Pentecost demanded, looking at the display. One moment Midsummer Night and Switchback had been engaged in a brawl and the next both signatures were gone. “Where’d they go?”

“No idea, sir! They just vanished.”

Pentecost grabbed the microphone. “Midsummer Night, do you copy?”

Static answered him.

“Repeat. Midsummer Night, do you copy?” He asked.

More static.

“Sir, we had a large power spike when they vanished. Similar to when Midsummer Night was undergoing the tests earlier. They may have tunnelled away.”

“Well then where the hell are they?”

***

Unknown location


Midsummer Night drifted through the inky blackness silently, the Jaeger trembled slightly as its heels dragged along the silty ocean floor.

“What happened?” Shane breathed. His mind ticking over silently, evidently the neural link had been severed by the lack of power.

Michael looked around the damaged conpod. “We jumped, that much is for sure. You alright over there?”

“Fine. You?”

“Been better.” Michael responded, slipping into silence. The Jaeger ground to a halt, the muddy seabed sucking up whatever momentum it had left.

“Where are we?” Shane asked finally, breaking the silence that had descended between them.

“Well wherever the hell we are, it’s certainly not the Pacific.” Michael answered, leaning forward and tapping a few buttons on the overhead console. “You still with us, Sweetie?”

“Affirmative.’” The A.I. responded immediately.

“Systems check?”

“Warning: Main reactor offline, systems running on emergency battery power.”

“Can you restart the reactor?”

“Reactor reactivation protocols online, reactor reset in 3... 2... 1”

A dull clunk came from beneath them.

“That didn’t sound good.” Shane muttered.

“Reactor restart failed. Retrying.”

This time, a score of lights flickered on across the con-pod, basking the scene in the familiar cool white light they were used to. A low humming sound came from beneath their feet as the nuclear reactor far below them warmed up again. The display powered up, a few readings and a dozen warning lights flicking on feebly across it.

“Reactor reset complete.” The A.I. said with almost a hint of satisfaction in its voice.

“Now what?” Shane asked.

“Let’s just focus on getting Midsummer back on her feet.” Mike said, tapping a sequence of buttons. “Can we restart the drift Sweetie? I’d like it if we could stop dragging ourselves through the mud.”

“Initiating launch operations, Midsummer Night. Two pilots in neural bridge. Initiate pilot-to-pilot bridge. Pilot one, are you ready to begin?”

“Yes.” Michael said immediately.

“Pilot two, are you ready to begin?”

“What do you think?”

“Interpreting vague answer as, yes. Initiating drift sequence in 3... 2... 1..”

A flash of blue light filled Shane’s mind, his memories, instinct and emotions rolling into his brother’s like a tidal wave. The familiar feeling of Michael’s thoughts worming their way into his mind flooded his consciousness until he had trouble telling which his brother’s thoughts and which were his own. Their feelings expanded as they mind-melded with their Jaeger until finally man and machine became one.

“Neural link complete. Handshake strong and holding.”

“Calibrate right hemisphere.” The A.I. intoned. “Calibrate left hemisphere.” The pilots moved together, the occasional prick of pain making them wince as a damaged component in an arm or leg ground against something or refused to move. They slowly brought their fists together, satisfied they had become one with their Jaeger.

“Calibration complete. Activating the Jaeger in 3... 2... 1.”

Midsummer Night roared into life, the servos in the arms and legs whining as to keep up with the movement of the pilots in the con-pod. Half a dozen flood lights snapped on, illuminating the ocean bed in front of them with a ghostly glow; sending a school of curious looking fish darted away in panic as the giant mecha seemingly materialised in front of them.

“Want to go fishing?” Michael snickered, the pair moving slowly moving the Jaeger forward.

“Position check.” Shane barked, ignoring his brother’s remark.

“No signal on the GPS.” Michael called back.

“Fantastic, can we reach Anchorage LOCCENT?”

“Nothing on comms, radio might be fried.”

Shane growled and slammed his fist against the control panel above his head. A surge of feedback rippled through the neural bridge and Midsummer Night shuddered ominously.

“Caution, integrity of neural handshake falling.”

“Shane, get a hold of yourself.” Michael said calmly.

“We’re lost! No comms, no navigation, nothing! We’re completely blind down here.” He muttered, Midsummer Night juddering to a to a halt as the the neural bond connecting to two pilots diminished.

“Sweetie, can you give us anything, anything at all?” Michael asked calmly.

“Would you stop calling it that? It’s just a machine, Mikey.” Shane muttered icily.

“I think it likes it.”

“It doesn’t feel anything.” Shane insisted.

“Geographical data suggests Midsummer Night is on a continental Shelf.” The A.I. paused for a moment. “Probable course for landing laid out.”

“Thank you.” Michael said, bring the projected course up on the main screen. “Now can you stop throwing a tantrum and pull yourself together, Shane?”

Shane took a deep breath and centred himself. He didn’t trust the computer further than he could throw a Jaeger but it seemed it was the only option.

“Guess we better start walking.”

It was almost an hour later when the A.I. chimed up again. The water around them had turned from a midnight black to a deep blue. Despite his reservations about their position, Shane grudgingly admitted that the A.I. had been right.

“Solid return on sonar ping.”

“Land?”

“Affirmative.”

“See, what’d I tell ya? Complet-.”

“Warning, Kaiju threat detected. Category Three. Identification: Switchback.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me I thought we dumped that fish already.” Shane muttered, already scanning the waters around the Jaeger for signs of the mass of jaws, outstretched limbs and talons that would be the first sign of their foe.

“Where?” Michael asked, “I don't have a visual.”

“I got nothing Mikey, computer confirm Kaiju threat?” Shane asked, looking up to see the surface of the water a few metres above the con-pod.

“Reanalysing data, stand by.”

“We’re about to break the surface, we’ll get a better view once we’re up on top.” Shane said, carefully monitoring Midsummer Night’s sensors. He had no intention of just ‘standing by’ with the possibility of a Kaiju hunting them. A stream of water rushed down the visor of the con-pod as the Jaeger’s head rose from the depths.

“Whoa...” Shane breathed, the sight that greeted them completely unexpected. A sprawling coastal city was laid out before them for as far as the eye could see. A towering giant was visible behind a haze of smoke, occasionally striking out at a building or swiping at some unseen harassers with its tail. Even from the distance the wounds they had inflicted in their last fight were still visible.

“Well there’s our Kaiju.” Michael remarked dryly.

“What’s a Kaiju doing in New York?” Shane asked.

“What?” Michael asked, wondering where his brother had pulled New York from.

“Look, that’s the Statue of Liberty.” He explained. “So it’s gotta be New York.”

“Since when has the Statue of Liberty had four legs?”

Shane looked closer, noticing that the proud statue indeed had four legs. On closer inspection he realised it was decidedly equine in nature. “What the hell…”

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!” Michael jeered.

“Well then where the hell are we?” Shane breathed.

“Positional data unavailable at this time.” The A.I. said. “Warning: Kaiju threat detected.”

“Yes we know Sweetie, you don’t need to tell us.”

“If we dragged that sucker through with us how come he didn't just rip us apart?” Shane asked as the guided their Jaeger past the comparatively tiny statue. Even without the neural link, Michael could see his brother’s confusion. Kaiju weren’t known to just pass up a target.

“Must have thought we were dead in the water. Found this place and went to town I guess.” Michael suggested.

“So what’s the plan?”

“Kill it before it kills us.” Michael said simply. “Sweetie, bring our railguns online. Let’s see if we can gut this bastard before he sees us.”

“Railguns online and charging, forty seconds until firing sequence.”

The pair of railguns mounted on Midsummer Night’s shoulders swung into position to track Switchback, a faint hum distinguishable over the mechanical footsteps of the Jaeger already audible. They moved further inland, the water receding around the Jaeger until the tops of their thighs were visible. As they drew close to the city tiny shapes darting away from the Kaiju became visible. People, perhaps?

“Uh-oh, he’s spotted us.” Shane said as the shark/crocodilian Kaiju noticed the towering Jaeger standing out in the bay. It roared a challenge and charged with supernatural speed towards them, the city it had been so happily destroying completely forgotten.

“Guns?” Michael asked, a trace of fear flickering across the neural link. They’d already seen what Switchback could do to them in melee and it seemed neither of them were particularly thrilled with the possibility of another wrestle.

“Twenty seconds until firing sequence.”

Switchback drew closer, its massive tail reducing a building to rubble in its haste to reach the Jaeger. The ground trembled as the Kaiju dived into the water, demolishing another skyscraper with another errant flick of its tail.

“Now would be a very good time for those guns Sweetie.” Michael coaxed as six the tiny eyes on Switchback became distinguishable from its dark, almost muddy flesh. Less than a hundred metres separated Switchback and Midsummer Night when the two railguns barked and a pair of hypersonic slugs spat out the end, connecting with Switchback before Shane even realised the shells had left the guns. One clipped its shoulder while the other slammed into its face, crushing its dense skull like a juice box. A funnel of cauterised flesh and brain matter blasted out the back of its head as the solid tungsten round bored its way through effortlessly. Presumably dead, Switchback momentum carried it into Midsummer Night, nearly knocking the mighty Jaeger over. An infernal screeching echoed around the con pod as the Kaiju’s claws scraped against their armour. Shane cried out as a massive talon sliced across Midsummer Night’s right forearm in a shower of sparks and rending metal. The Kaiju's tail spasmed violently, the wickedly sharp barb on the end impaling into the Jaeger's chest with a resounding clang.

“Get off.” Michael grunted, directing their left arm to shove the twitching Kaiju off the Jaeger. The massive hand gripped the barb and pulling it out like some grotesque arrowhead. To ensure their foe wasn’t playing possum, they crushed Switchback’s chest with Midsummer Night’s foot, the weight of the Jaeger making a mockery of the Kaiju’s natural hardiness. A sickening crack came from under the water as Midsummer Night shattered the Kaiju’s ribcage under her heel.

“Was that really necessary?” Shane panted, his right arm hanging limp. “We blew its damn head off.”

“Better to be safe than sorry.” Michael said with a shrug. “You alright?”

“I’m fine, it’s nothing serious.”

Shane breathed a sigh of relief and laughed nervously. “Now that little problem is out of the way, how about we find out where we are?”

“Sounds like Christmas morning.”

***

It was truly a sight that had to be seen to be believed. Scores of buildings had been toppled by the monster’s rampage and massive footprints that a dragon could curl up in marked the streets. Another trail of destruction led back to the harbour, marking the path the creature had taken to reach the other giant which had mysteriously appeared.

‘Our saviour.’ Celestia thought cautiously. After dispatching the monster attacking Manehatten with disturbing ease, the metal giant had stood motionless in the harbour. Almost like a silent guardian watching over them.

“Princess, I still do not think this is the best idea.” One of her guards cautioned her as the quartet of ponies flew towards the mighty being.

“I think it is only fitting that we thank our guest.” She said, flapping her mighty wings to rise a little higher in the warm air. By her guess the monstrosity was almost 80 meters high and at least half as wide at the shoulders. A few chunks had been torn forcefully from its chest and arms, evidence of an earlier battle. She flinched as a shower of sparks from a dangling cable flew past her.

“Do you need to personally do it though?” The guard insisted, flying a little closer to her. “That... thing tore that other... thing... apart like it was a grapefruit! It’s dangerous.”

“I do not think it would consider me a threat.” Celestia guessed, reasoning that neither she nor her guards would be a credible threat to the creature.

“It might not understand you.” The guard pointed out.

Celestia had to agree the pegasus had a point. “We must try. I don’t want this potential friend to turn hostile. I appreciate your advice, but I believe this is the best course of action.”

“As you wish, Princess.” The guard muttered, falling back into formation. The small group approached what they believed was the creature’s head cautiously. Up close, Princess Celestia could understand the guard’s concern; she would’ve been able to fit most of her bedroom in the giant’s hand. She approached the head, her white form perfectly reflected in what appeared to be a visor of some kind.

“Greetings stranger. I am Princess Celestia, ruler of these lands. We thank you for destroying the monster assaulting our city.” She bowed her head a little, feeling a little foolish. “We extend the offer of peace to you, we mean no harm to you or your people. If you require aid we may be able to help you.”

Silence answered her. Maybe the guard was right, maybe it couldn’t understand or even hear her. She was about to order the guards back down to the ground when a speaker crackled into life.

“Uhh... Hi?”

“What the hell are you doing?” Shane hissed.

Michael shrugged. “Talking to it I guess.”

“Michael, you’re talking to goddamn flying horse. Horses don’t talk!”

“This one does, apparently.” Michael shrugged again. The two brothers had watched the small group approach the Jaeger and like any siblings, had bickered over what to do. They certainly weren’t expecting the monarch of some nation to fly up to them and start talking in fluent English.

“Yeah but... still!”

Michael shrugged. “Seems like this Princess Celestine-

“Celestia.” the A.I. corrected.

“Celestia, thank you Sweetie. Seems, like she wants to be friends.”

“Yeah just so we don't smash her city like Switchback did.”

“We wouldn’t do that anyway.” Michael said sternly.

“She doesn’t know that.” Shane pointed out.

“I’m not using that as a bargaining chip. Now shut up and let me talk to the lady.” Michael said, flicking the external communicator on again.

“Fine, suit yourself.” Shane grumbled, crossing his arms with a huff. The neural link had been shut off so the Jaeger thankfully didn’t try to imitate his anti-social body language.

“Hi.” Michael said again awkwardly. He opened his mouth and shut it again, unsure of what to say. “Sorry, but where are we?” he asked eventually.

A look of surprise crossed the horse’s face. “We?” she asked.

“Oh right, there’s two of us in here. I’m Michael. My brother Shane isn’t talking right now.”

“In there?” She asked. “How?”

“We’re pilots. This thing is called a Jaeger, Midsummer Night to be precise.”

A look of shock and awe crossed Celestia’s face. “Incredible.” She muttered, “Sorry, where are my manners? Michael, Shane, you are currently standing in Manehatten Harbour on the Eastern Seaboard of Equestria.” She smiled thinly. “Welcome, I take it you are not from these parts.”

“No, ma'am. Not at all.”

“If I may ask, where are you from?”

“We’re from Alaska, United States of America.” Michael paused for a moment, sure he would sound ridiculous. “Earth.”

Princess Celestia shook her head. “These names mean nothing to me. How did you come to be here?”

“Experimental quantum tunnelling device.” Michael explained. “We were undergoing a trial when a Kaiju attacked.”

“Kaiju?” Celestia interrupted,

“A monster, the ugly bastard that we just killed. We called this one Switchback.” Shane snapped.

“Which we are very grateful for, thank you Shane.” Celestia said.

“Anyway, we were attacked by our fishy friend here and... well, we weren't exactly winning. We activated the device in an attempt to escape.” Michael shrugged. “Ended up here I guess.”

“And what about this... Kaiju?”

“Either it followed us or got sucked through.” Michael said. “Your guess is as good as ours.”

“This uh... portal. Did it stay open?” One of the curious winged horses around the princess asked.

“Wouldn’t have a clue.”

“Radiation levels indicate the portal collapsed upon arrival.” The A.I. chimed in helpfully.

“We won't be seeing any more of those... things... again will we?” The guard asked.

“I hope not, for all of our sakes.” Michael said. “We’re not in a good enough shape to go toe to toe with another one.”

“Yeah, it’d be awful if another of your cities got trashed.” Shane muttered under his breath.

Michael flipped the communicator off. “What’s your problem? This princess seems friendly enough. She’s got balls, you gotta respect that.”

“Talking, flying horses are not what I signed up for. I say we ditch these horses and find a way home. That quantum portal... thingy dropped us here, what’s saying we can't use it to go home?”

“Quantum tunnelling device inoperable. Diagnostics indicate thirteen vital components damaged.”

“Well bang goes that idea.” Shane muttered.

“Maybe they can help us.” Michael said, reaching for communicator again.

“How can these horses help us? You think they could fix it?” Shane asked incredulously.

Michael shrugged. “It’s worth a shot. They might be able to patch Midsummer Night up at least. Unless you can.” He added wryly.

Shane snorted derisively. “I doubt these horses are advanced enough to repair our Jaeger.”

“Ponies.” The A.I. chimed again, an almost annoyed tone in its voice.

“Pardon?”

“Average size of their species is more appropriate to that of a pony.”

Michael shrugged his head. “Well there you go, talking, flying ponies. Just another day at the office I guess.”

“Maybe for you... it’s just not natural.” Shane murmured, still distrustful of their new acquaintances.

Michael ignored him and flipped the external communicator back on. “Ma’am, we’d like your help with some matters.”

“We are in your debt, I will be happy to help you in any way we can.” Celestia said.

“Awesome. Firstly, I need maps, charts, star maps… whatever you err... ponies, use to navigate around.” Michael said. “Second. Our intentions are to return home as fast as we can. Our portal device is ah... damaged beyond our ability to repair though.”

“I will contact our top scientists and researchers. We are well versed in the areas of teleportation and the like so they may be of some assistance.”

“Teleportation?” Shane whispered in surprise.

“Oh... great.” Michael said, his surprise evident. “Lastly, we’d appreciate it if you could offer repairs and shelter for our Jaeger. We’re a bit beat from our fight with Switchback.”

“Certainly. While facilities for a machine of your...” Her eyes seemed to sweep up and down the Jaeger. “Size... are not available, we will do what we can to accommodate you. I will go and oversee the preparations.”

“Thank you.” Michael said, flipping the communicator off again as the Princess and her entourage turned and flew back towards the city. “Well that went better than I expected.”

Shane laughed. “Either she’s blinded by some misguided sense of honour or is just plain naive. Only a fool would blindly trust two strangers with a three hundred foot war machine at their whim.”

“Or she knows that we’re not going to turn on her.”

“How would she know that? How could she benefit by offering us her hospitality.”

“I don’t know, because we haven’t done so already?” Michael guessed. “I don’t know why she’s trusting us, but this is good thing.” He bobbed his head. “Probably.”

“Yeah, right. Whatever. Let’s just get this bucket of bolts fixed and get out of here. This place is already giving me the creeps.”

***

“Spike!” Twilight yelled, her temper slowly rising. She stomped around the library, blissfully unaware of the destruction in Manehatten. “Spike!”

The small drake popped his head around her door. “What now, Twilight?”

“Where have my study notes on magnetic fields gone?’

Spike huffed. “They’re on your bed, just like they were when you asked twenty minutes ago.”

Twilight flushed and smiled embarrassedly. “Oh... sorry.”

Spike’s stern glare was cut off by a hiccup and a burst of green fire spewing from his mouth. A scroll appeared out of the fire and landed with a quiet thud on the floor. Spike picked it up and offered it to Twilight. “It’s for you.”

Twilight levitated the scroll and unrolled it gingerly.

Twilight

I require your presence in Manehatten. Gather the other element bearers and get ready to leave. A chariot will arrive for you shortly.

Celestia

“Not even a ‘My most faithful student.’” Twilight wondered aloud. “She must’ve been in a real hurry to send this.”

“Wasn’t Celestia in Manehattan for some opening?” Spike asked.

“A new dock I think.” Twilight murmured distractedly, already trying to figure what books she should pack. “Could you get the others please Spike? It’d be best to not keep the Princess waiting.”

Spike saluted smartly. “Yes ma’am!” He said, darting out of the room as fast as his little legs would carry him.

***

“I don’t see why we all have to go.” Rainbow Dash complained, leaning out of the chariot mournfully. “I have much better things to be doing.”

“Like?” Twilight asked, looking up from a thick textbook she was reading through.

“I don’t know, something.” Rainbow mumbled, scowling at the three pegasus guards pulling their chariot as if were all their fault. “What does Celestia need us for anyway?”

“The Princess is bound to have her reasons.” Applejack said queasily, trying to not notice how high the chariot was. “She’d wouldn’t have dragged us off to Manehatten for nothing.”

“I think Applejack is right, Rainbow Dash.” Rarity piped up without looking up from her sketch. “The Princess knows how busy we are.” She examined her sketch for a moment. “What do you think?” She asked, turning the page so Applejack could see.

“Uh, it’s nice I guess. Does it really need all the frills though?” Applejack asked, looking at her sketch of what appeared to be a guard’s armour covered in unnecessary amounts of flair. “Looks a little frou-frou for them guards to be wearing.”

“I think it’s quite becoming of it!” Rairty objected haughtily.

Rainbow clamped her hooves over her ears and looked sideways at Fluttershy. The butter coloured pegasus was staying out of the fight between the cowpony and the fashionista, decidedly minding her own business.

“What do you think of all this?” Rainbow muttered. “There’s something the Princess ain’t telling us.”

“Oh... it’s um... alright I guess. She is the Princess after all.” Fluttershy said nervously, as if Princess Celestia was standing next to her.

“Hey, guys, guys, GUYS!” Pinkie yelled from the front of the chariot. “We’re nearly there! I don't remember Manehatten being so flat though, maybe they’ve gone on a diet and lost some weight. Or maybe they had a massive pancake dropped on them or maybe-.” She continued, rambling on about some preposterous idea on how Manehatten had been flattened by Princess Luna’s butt.

“What happened here?” Twilight asked aghast. The mighty city had a massive scar torn into it, almost as if somepony had taken a massive bowling ball to it. A much shorter scar lead away and out into the harbour where a new skyscraper was standing.

‘No, not a skyscraper.’ She thought stupidly as she picked out an arm and a head on the massive form. Her jaw dropped as her brain started to process what she was seeing.

“Whoa, what in the hay is that?!” Rainbow yelped, catching sight of the towering figure in the harbour. “Did that thing just wreck Manehatten?”

“I have no idea.” Twilight murmured. “But I’d bet my life savings that we’re here because of it.”

Author's Note:

Midsummer Night - Mk II American Jaeger

Height: 269ft/82m
Weight: 2421 tons
Speed: 4
Strength: 8
Armour: 7

Operating System: Nauthlus-5 Zirca Sync
Energy Core: Iso-thor nuclear reaction chamber
Weapons: V-PI Energy Caster
2 x M68 Railgun
Mk4 CQB system
Body Language: Stalwart Bruiser
Power Moves: Precision Strike
Pilots: Shane/ Michael O’Connell
Kaiju Killed: 3

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