A Tale of Two Kingdoms, part 2/11 (2015-08-15) [2]

There’s not much left on the Isle to cannibalize into a second jaeger, but Carlos makes it work. The Jolly Roger is just one against a never ending parade of kaiju, and he knows Jemma won’t be able to last for much longer alone.

The second jaeger is designed with data collected from the Jolly Roger’s battles. The second jaeger is larger, deadlier, and more advanced. The second jaeger is designed for two pilots.

Carlos builds it thinking it’ll be named Gaston the Fourth, thinking that who best to co-pilot a jaeger than two twin brothers with the same obnoxious personality and belief that their father was the true hero of his story.

Fortunately, the second jaeger does not get named Gaston the Fourth because, unfortunately, the Gaston twins cannot pilot it together. Their identical dispositions mean that they both try to dominate the other for control over the jaeger. They think the same but they don’t think together; two people screaming at each other, instead of speaking to each other.

For three days, Carlos stares up at the second jaeger, bewildered and devastated. Its cockpit remains empty.

Auradon first learns of the jaeger program when the Jolly Roger’s eleventh battle brings it nearer to the coast than any villain or descendant of a villain has been in two decades. Only those at the Wall see it, but the news of something fighting back against a kaiju, beating it back even, makes its way swiftly to the royal family.

It is hope. They have known for a while that the Wall was just busy work, something to show their people that efforts were being made, but this news–this is good news.

Until word of what the machine looked like is sent. Red and black and white, a skull and crossbones; pirates.

And for the first time in nearly a year, Auradon remembers the Isle of the Lost.

It would have been four days, except Harry and Jace come for him. Carlos has never considered them friends, only minions inherited from his mother, but he’s grateful for them now. Jace makes sure Carlos is washed and fed and watered. Harry tells him what has been happening with the Jolly Roger, with Jemma.

“She took out a class two, but it ripped up the connections in JR’s right arm. I’ve had the other techs begin working on repairs, but it’ll be at least a week until it’s back to fighting fit,” Harry says, speaking loud enough so Carlos can hear her while Jace shampoos his hair. Carlos doesn’t care how potentially embarrassing this is, how he’s being treated like an incompetent child, he’s tired and the movements are actually kind of soothing.

“That’s bad,” Carlos says when Harry hesitates, thinking she’s looking for a response of some kind.

“It gets worse,” she says, because of course it does, “Jemma’s in the hospital.”

The chill washing down his spine has nothing to do with the bucket of water Jace pours over his head.

“That’s happened before,” Carlos splutters, spitting water and shampoo and denial, “She’ll be out in a few hours.”

“It’s already been two days.”

Auradon is hardly a kingdom anymore, but it still has a king. Or rather, two kings.

“We need to help them,” Ben argues, voice firm with conviction.

“We’ll find some other way,” his father says, more stubborn than logical.

“What other way? What other way can there be that we haven’t already tried?” Ben asks, waving at the Fairy Godmother who has decided to stay in Auradon–after evacuating her school, daughter included, to a neighboring kingdom of course.

“It wasn’t magic,” she says, her now ever-present wand gripped uselessly in her hand, “This is beyond magic,” the smallest, saddest smile graces her lips, “this is human ingenuity.”

Fairy Godmother’s side made clear, Ben knows he has won.

Regardless, his father roars, “You’ll be giving them the means to destroy us!” his fear fueling anger.

“No,” Ben says, “I’m giving them the means to save us.”

The first dual event happens less than ten hours after Jemma, finally awake after an eight day long coma, has been cleared to leave the hospital. Cleared to leave but not cleared to pilot.

It doesn’t matter. The Jolly Roger is the only jaeger they have.

Except, not really.

Carlos stares at the second jaeger, built and empty, unpainted, unnamed. There’s a license plate whose letters and numbers are still legible, GB-Y136 slanted on the jaeger’s torso.

The Jolly Roger has barely been enough to defeat one kaiju lately, it won’t win against two. Jemma will die on her own.

Behind him, Carlos hears footsteps and breathing. He knows who they are without turning; they have shadowed him his entire life, his minions, his guardians.

“The Gaston twins can’t pilot it,” he says, because it’s the truth. “It’s built for two.”

Jace says, “It doesn’t need identical minds.”

“It needs compatible minds,” Harry finishes.

Ben stands in the ruins of Charmington, the first living person to do so in months. Chip, a few steps behind him, is the second.

Charmington is the closest point of Auradon to the Isle. If they’re going to cross the ocean, they’re going to minimize the amount of travel time necessary.

And it is necessary. Ever since the fall of the barrier, the awakening of the kaiju, there has been no communication between kingdom and island. If Auradon is going to… if Ben is going to help the Isle, he is going to have to be the one to reach out.

“Are you sure you want to come with me?” Ben asks.

“To be honest? No,” Chip says, but he lays a reassuring hand on Ben’s shoulder, “But more because I’d prefer it if you weren’t going at all. I followed your mother back when I was made out of porcelain, I’m a little hardier now. I’m not letting you go alone.”

Ben sighs, a seventeen year old boy, a king of a destroyed country.

“Let’s go to the Isle.”

The first dual event leads to the debut of the second jaeger, the Hell Jalopy.

It is also the Jolly Roger’s last fight. Captain Jemma Hook dies in battle, brain too stressed in too short a time.

Carlos has the techs deconstruct the Jolly Roger for parts, to be rebuilt into a new jaeger, because they cannot afford to have it standing empty. But he keeps the panel the skull and crossbones are painted onto, hangs it up beside the docked Hell Jalopy and the construction of the third jaeger. Anyone who passes by, which is nearly all of the islanders, will be able to see, will remember.

Carlos wears the crossbones on his back and fails to stop thinking about– Uri, killed. Jemma, dead. Harry and Jace, jaeger pilots–how he hasn’t heard from Mal or Evie or Jay for almost a year. Not since their parents sacrificed a boy to kickstart the end of the world.

~

A/N: Uh… so, I think I am going to go ahead and finish this series first before going back to Ain’t No Rest… Mostly because… I don’t know what has been done to Mal and Evie and Jay and this’ll bug me until the plot bunny tells me and I can find out.

And… this may be longer than three parts. But probably not longer than five? I DUNNO, THIS THING IS GROWING ON ME.

EDIT: NOW WITH TITLE: “A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS”

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