• Published 2nd Sep 2019
  • 560 Views, 23 Comments

Monsters of Our Own - Aquaman



The first portal opened outside our high school, but the next opened deep beneath the ocean—and the kaiju it spawned nearly wiped us out. Fortunately, me and my friends had heroic experience to spare—and some magic pony friends to help us use it.

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Epilogue

On our third day in the med bay, we’re finally allowed a visitor. Apparently, standard quarantine wasn’t enough for the brass this time, not only because we encountered three alien life forms instead of one and suffered acute cerebral exhaustion, but also because Rainbow and Dash, unkillable Jaeger pilots extraordinaire, are allegedly—I'm told I have to say—the biggest celebrities in the entire known universe right now.

Well, us plus Apple, Jack, Sweetie, and Belle—the former pair of whom are great to fight with but just the absolute worst roommates. I mean, the Home and Garden Network? Seriously, Jack? There’s only one TV in the room, you’ve gotta let us watch some of the news coverage following the "Battle of the Millennium.” Hell, The Shawflank Redemption is on at least four hundred channels at any given time of day, at least flip to that once in a while.

Anyway, obviously we weren’t allowed to talk to the media, even though they basically set up camp outside the base’s front gate and—allegedly—I’m very good in front of a camera. Based on snatches of conversation from passers-by in the hallway, though, I know that our fight alone bumped the Jaeger program’s approval rating by twenty points, and that a high-definition cut of our three video feeds—first Chroma’s, then Titan’s, and finally Frostbite’s for the killer finale—was the fastest a HayTube video has ever hit a hundred million views.

Not that I’m trying to humblebrag or anything. As a matter of principle, I always brag non-humbly.

When the door to our room opens, it actually takes a moment for me to even notice, engrossed as I am watching Dash fight the good fight for control of the TV channel. Hysterically, she’s even more pissed than me about the choice of entertainment—television's still kind of a novelty to most ponies, and she’ll be damned if she spends a nanosecond longer than she has to watching some mind-numbing house-hunting crap.

“Who cares which one they pick?” she moans in Apple’s direction. “They all look stupid, and his wife hates all three anyway!”

“It’s about the potential, Dash,” Jack says for like the eighth time. “You gotta get a house with good bones so ya can make it your own!”

“What… bones? It’s a house! Houses don’t have skeletons!”

A gentle knock from somewhere in front of me draws my attention away from my fellow pilots’ bickering. Of the six beds in the room, mine is closest to the door, so I’m the first to see the labcoat-clad woman with thick black specs and a tablet tucked under her arm, flanked by her similarly dressed purple pony pal.

“Hope we’re not interrupting anything important,” Twilight says, her cheeks darkening a bit as she puts on a familiar thin smile. Even after founding the Jaeger program as it exists today and claiming five kaiju kills from the cockpit of the first one she ever designed, nerdy little Sci-Twi still gets nervous when more than three people look at her at once. It’s probably my favorite thing about her. Out of all of us, she’s probably the one closest to still being human.

“Noooope, please interrupt,” Dash says, screwing up her eyes behind her IV-laden hoof. “Please, whatever gods still listen to us, talk about something other than resale value.”

I give a wave from my bed as Apple and Jack doff imaginary hats in perfect sync. At the far end of the room, Sweetie and Belle are uncharacteristically quiet, but the relief on both their faces isn’t hard to read. Unsurprisingly, Sparkle clues in quickly, sidling around her human counterpart to approach the youngest team in the room first.

“How are you two feeling?” she asks softly, ever the Princess of Friendship even though her kingdom is long gone. “Pretty exhausted, I bet.”

“Not really,” Sweetie answers, fingers drumming against the sheets covering her thighs. “Kind of stir-crazy, honestly. Have these guys always fought like this?”

“Pretty much since the day they met, yeah,” Twilight answers. I can’t complain. She’s not wrong. “Anything we can do to help while you’re here?”

Both Sweetie and Belle shake their heads and glance at each other. “Just… wanna get moving,” Belle replies. “Want to check on Frostbite and just…”

She doesn’t finish her sentence, nor does she need to. The look on her face, not to mention the pang in my chest, reminds me all too clearly of my first kaiju kill: the rush of confidence, the ecstasy of victory—and the nausea rolling through me over the next dozen nights, the memory of how a kaiju’s guts felt itching in my sweat-soaked fingers. Honestly, I’m kind of impressed how well they’re handling it. If they’d locked us up like this after our first fight, Dash and I probably would’ve chewed through the walls to get out.

“Well, on that note, I have good news and better news,” Twilight announces, once again wilting a bit as everyone’s eyes turn back to her. Really, though, I only notice it because I’ve known her for so long—she's gotten more confident by degrees over the past few years, and it shines through in every word she says next.

“First, the good news: although we’ll have to do a full core replacement in the former, Titan Sequoia and Frostbite Archangel are on pace for expedited repairs and should be combat-ready in three or four weeks. As for Chroma Vortex, her OS and black box were relatively intact barring some short-term data loss, so we should be able to incorporate them into the Mark V frame Sparkle and I are putting the finishing touches on. Within two months, all of you should be fully operational again.”

In the small pause that follows, Jack and I share a glance. Normally, it takes two months for the engineers to even acknowledge a dented shin guard around here. I can understand the brass being desperate to get at least one Jaeger fixed up quick in case another incursion breaks the usual pattern, but all three? Something’s different this time—and when I look at Twilight again, I get the impression she’s about to tell us what.

“And now, for the better news… well, actually, this requires a bit of explanation.”

I bite my lip and keep my sigh as quiet as possible. Of course it does, Twilight. But hey, not like I’m going anywhere anytime soon.

“So, as I’m sure you’re all aware,” Twilight continues as she sits on a stool between Dash’s bed and mine and props her tablet up on her legs, “your last encounter was… an anomaly, to say the least. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were predictable, previous kaiju attacks followed something of a noticeable pattern, increasing somewhat regularly in frequency and only occasionally involving more than one monster. A triple event like the one you all experienced is unheard of… or was, anyway.”

“They were trying to target us,” I tell her. I’m sure she knows already—I must have told a dozen different doctors, psychologists, and military analysts what Dash and I figured out before we killed the Serpent—but it bears repeating just in case. “Every attack before was aimed at civilians, but with this one, they wanted to take out the Jaegers themselves.”

Twilight nods, and her glasses slip down her nose. “Precisely,” she agrees as she pushes them back up with a finger. “This was a deliberate offensive maneuver. Whether it means whatever’s sending these things is annoyed or scared or hopefully desperate, we’re not sure yet. But what we do know is that this time, they were sloppy.”

Now Twilight unlocks the tablet and turns it around so we can see, a mess of animated data points spreading across the screen from left to right. “Every kaiju intrusion gives off outbound signals—mostly electromagnetic, some radioactive, some magical, all traceable if you know what to look for. At this point, we can predict an intrusion with about half an hour’s notice, but one thing we could never do before is get a signal of our own into the portal. Radar, sonar, unmanned probes—everything hit a wall before it could get in. Like a containment shield around the rift itself, only letting kaiju out and letting nothing else in.”

She swipes her thumb from right to left across the bottom of the screen. Now it shows a cartoonish image of what looks like the Grand Canyon with a dome covering its bed. “This time, though, three kaiju came through in rapid succession, meaning we got enough data to prove something I’ve suspected for a while: the barrier around the rift is much simpler than we thought it was. There’s no spellwork or advanced technology behind it—basically, it’s just a biometric scanner for kaiju DNA. A rather crude one, actually—effectively no different than a metal detector at an airport.”

A tap on the screen animates the canyon again: a tiny kaiju sprite rises towards the dome, pauses while a halo of light passes over it, and then keeps ascending straight through the dome and out of the canyon. “Anything the barrier thinks is a living kaiju, it lets through—and theoretically, if a kaiju were to survive a fight and retreat, it would work both ways. Except it’s not theoretical because, well… we tested it while you all were recovering.”

Apple gives voice to the obvious question. “With what?”

Twilight blinks. “With a kaiju. Well, part of a kaiju.” Now she turns to me, an oddly sheepish twist to her lips. “Hope you didn’t want Nerodia’s head as a trophy. We didn’t have time to ask.”

I can gather that Nerodia is what the brass have posthumously named the Serpent, but that doesn’t stop a cold twinge from poking at my gut. “But we killed it,” I say, half to Twilight and half to myself. “Right?”

“Oh, absolutely!” Twilight says, seeming to suddenly catch what she implied. “Nerodia was very dead by the time we found its head. But not all of its cells were, and we got enough of them into a probe to bypass the rift’s barrier.” Giddily, she giggles to herself before continuing. “Honestly, I still can’t believe it worked, but we did it. We actually got a probe inside the rift. And best of all, we confirmed that we don’t even need a living kaiju to do it, just a convincing enough simulation of one’s genetic code.”

Suddenly, the pieces start to fit together in my mind. Rapidly accelerating Jaeger repairs, giving Twilight the go-ahead on a half-baked theory like this… the brass don’t want to just bask in this narrow victory. They want to strike back. They want to end this entire thing. For once in my life, I actually agree with them.

“We’re going inside the rift,” I guess aloud. “We’re taking the fight to them.”

Twilight nods, chewing on her lip in barely contained excitement. “Not just you. Everyone. The whole gang.”

“The whole…” Jack trails off. She can’t believe what she’s hearing any more than I can.

“Romeo Amethyst is shipping out from Brisbane at month’s end, and Dynamite Papa’s already arrived from Antofagasta. Once Foxtail Hornet is done with refurbishment in Tokyo, Flutter and Shy are in too.” A furtive smile flashes through Twilight’s cheeks. “And this is technically a state secret, so I can’t confirm anything on the record… but off the record, I heard a rumor that Nightfall Aurora might have one last sortie left in her.”

I flop back against my pillows, mind racing with possibilities. A half-dozen Jaegers on one mission isn’t an attack force—it's a whole goddamn army. If we pull this off, the war could be over by summer. We could end the kaiju threat forever—close the rift, take out the maniacs who made it, make them pay for every single life they’ve robbed us of with interest.

“What’s the gameplan?” I ask. “When do we make this happen?”

“Still to be determined,” Twilight says. “There’s more data to collect and more variables to account for in the meantime, but for now, all I need to know is: are you in?”

I start to reply, but Sparkle cuts me off. “Rainbow, think before you say anything. We might have a way in, but we have no idea whether we have a way out. This could end the war… and it could also be a one-way trip.”

Well, duh. I expected to hear that, and it does nothing to change my answer. What I don’t expect is for someone else to beat me to the punch.

“We’re in,” Belle says, Sweetie every bit her equal in determination and sheer intensity. “For Scootaloo.”

Apple meets their eyes, then Dash’s, then Sparkle’s. “For Big Mac.”

“For Apple Bloom,” Jack follows.

Dash looks at me, and even without the Drift I know exactly what she’s feeling—what's glinting in her eyes and radiating through her frame. “For Equestria.”

My answer’s simple too. “For Earth.”

Sparkle smiles, her answer quiet as if she only needs herself to hear it. “For Shiny.”

One by one, we all face Twilight once more—who for the first time today actually looks fully flustered. “Okay, really thought you guys were just gonna say yes or no…” she mumbles. “Um… for science?”

The silence swells in all our throats, and then explodes in gasping, uncontrollable laughter. “For science!” I shout, pumping a fist as Twilight goes beet-red. “And come on, for the Seattle fuckin’ Seven, baby!”

The last callout gets the biggest reception of all—enough that a nurse rushes in to remind us that we need our rest and to please shut the hell up while getting it. Don’t know what she was expecting to happen with eight Jaeger pilots—soon to be fourteen—all in one base together. But even once we pipe down and Sparkle leads Twilight away to practice motivational calls-and-responses, I still feel like I’m walking on water, three hundred feet above the waves with the power of a modern-day god coursing through my magic and metal form.

The kaiju took a lot from us—our childhoods, our families, almost our survival as species. But they also brought us together—as guardians of those who couldn’t defend themselves, as partners from different shattered worlds, and as living, breathing beings that specialize in fulfilling death wishes. We made monsters of our own, but we put humans and ponies inside them. And with all of us together, we’re gonna hand—and hoof—these kaiju the greatest unified ass-kicking the multiverse will ever see.

And most importantly of all: while Jack was whooping like a prize-winning rodeo star, I got my hands on the TV remote. Small victories, man. That’s what being alive is all about.

Comments ( 10 )

I'll be honest, I never really got into Pacific Rim. Heck, I never even saw the movie. I just kind of rolled my eyes at the premise, then nodded along when my friends told me how awesome it was.

I may need to rectify that.

Exquisite variations on the theme of rising from the ashes with the intent of getting even with the guy who set the fire. Thank you for some exquisite writing. Here's to properly chastising the folks who think it's funny to sic giant monsters on unsuspecting realities.
... Hang on, that's technically you. :twilightoops:

9817458
I was wondering if that subtext would come through. Getting to write a super-violent ponyfic that was a meta-commentary about super-violent ponyfics was half the fun!

I'd upvote it twice if I could.

Better than the source material. After the final Bronycon, I'm glad to have had this highlight.

oh hey i finally finished this it was good horse violence but you killed Sunbuttoffscreen so 0/10

9867411
ty ty ty i strive for fairness

I’d need to have The Brain of pinkie pie to come up with the amount of words to describe how awesome this is:pinkiehappy:

Somebody should turn this into a short film /Animation

Somebody or pony needs to take The fight through the rift

Thank you very much for sharing Monsters Of Our Own. I made a blog post about how I was extremely impressed by how Aquaman kept true to the worldbuilding and characterizations of both sets of source material. You made what should have been a discordant chimera of a crossover into a natural feeling unified story. Bravo!

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