Ben has never been on the Isle before. Has never expected to. Even when, before the kaiju, he thought about mending the gap between Isle and Auradon it was always the islanders going to Auradon, never the other way around.
Its like a different world.
It looks a little like they’ve already lived through an attack–but instead of fleeing, they rebuilt. Not as neat or as pretty, but at least they tried. Not like Charmington, not like Auradon.
Not like they had a choice.
There was no option for them to abandon their home. Not without working boats. Not without access to the magic bridge. Not without Auradon. Ben is galled at himself. He didn’t think of them during their time of need and now he comes to them during his?
Then he spots them, the giant machines, standing tall by the docks. As mismatched and unattractive as the Isle they guard, and just as tenacious. The Isle’s answer to the end of the world. Auradon’s last hope.
They salvage as much as they can from the Jolly Roger, but it’s not enough to make another two-pilot jaeger. And Carlos is not going to make another single person jaeger. Not again, not yet.
They’re desperate, but the Hell Jalopy is doing well enough, they’re not that desperate. And even then, so what? They’d have one double jaeger and a single jaeger? That’s not sustainable, not in the long run.
The Isle has always been able to make do on the scraps and leftovers from Auradon, but now? Now they need more. But more than that, now they have the means to get more.
No barges, sure, but the Hell Jalopy can just as easily raid Auradon as it can fight kaiju…
… could just as easily ferry the islanders to Auradon.
Wouldn’t that be for the best? Surely it would be better to run than to continue fighting a losing battle?
The painted skull stares at him accusingly.
The car that Chip and Ben drive to the Isle is several years old, a sedate silver four door sedan, Chip’s car for personal use. No need to antagonize them, he said, a limo would be patronizing.
As it is, Chip’s car is still the shiniest and cleanest thing on the Isle. Even without the magical glowing bridge of an entrance, the car would stand out simply by how new it is.
And by how it has yet to be deconstructed into jaeger parts. Even without knowing it’s passengers, a crowd of islanders gather around glaring at the car; mistrustful, angry, assessing.
It’s not a secret that the decommissioned Jolly Roger is incomplete.
Chip stops the car, both of them step out.
The crowd grows, but there is an empty circle of space around the car.
Carlos only finds out about the car from Auradon two hours after it is first spotted. Only because he asks someone where Harry and Jace are, and the person he asks instinctively answers with the truth despite what her fellow techies gesture behind his back.
Ever since the kaiju, ever since the jaegers, Carlos has been… revered but not necessarily deferred to. He is the head of the jaeger program and anything he needs he gets, but that doesn’t make him a leader.
Before the kaiju, the Isle was a state of anarchy, and the only thing that had authority was power. Before the kaiju, the closest things to leaders were the strongest, baddest villains. The same ones who unleashed the kaiju on the Isle.
The new post-kaiju Isle is now united under two goals–survive and build the jaegers. With that in mind, the closest thing to a leader wasn’t Carlos. It was Jemma.
Now, perhaps, it is Harry and Jace by default. But Harry and Jace have always been Carlos’ in a way Jemma wasn’t.
He goes to them: his minions, his jaeger pilots, his responsibilities. He goes to their meeting with Auradon.
Chip is sure it would have turned into a riot, had the two jaeger pilots not showed up. As it is, he’s not entirely confident that his car will still be there when he and Ben get back. Not completely, anyway.
“Just two people, in that huge machine?” Chip asks, enthusiasm nonetheless shining through. Beside him, Ben looks doubtfully at his mug of slop. What was he expecting from something called the Slop Shop?
Harry and Jace wear their pride like a new, ill-fitting jacket. Like they’re not used to being the heroes.
“The Hell Jalopy was designed for two people, to share the burden of piloting,” Jace says, a strange twist on his mouth.
“The Jolly Roger only needed one person, but it was smaller,” Harry adds, tracing out a shape with her finger, a circle and an x.
“The Jolly Roger, the red jaeger?” Ben asks, “It looked about the same height when we saw it.”
The jaeger pilots share a look, silent and troubled, before turning back to Ben and Chip. They do not explain.
“That’s not the Jolly Roger,” a boy says, from behind them, not much younger than Ben. He is wearing a red, black, and white jacket and when he passes them to snag a seat next to Harry and Jace, Ben can see crossbones on his back.
Ben has spotted the symbol frequently in the past few hours, visible but small on nearly every islander’s clothing. Nowhere near as large as the one worn by this boy.
“Not anymore, anyway,” the boy continues, not even blinking as Jace stands up and moves to sit on his other side, bracketing the boy in between Harry and Jace.
It reminds Ben of himself and Chip, of royalty and their bodyguards. And if Harry and Jace, the two pilots of one of the jaegers, the people that could preemptively stop a crowd from becoming a mob, are bodyguards to this boy. Then that means,
“Are you the pilot of the Jolly Roger?”
Carlos can feel a sardonic smile curl onto his lips, “Captain Hook is dead,” he says, and that damned painted panel flashes through his mind.
“James Hook is dead?” The boy says in confusion, blue suit neat and clean and screaming of Auradon as much as his answer does.
“You’ve got a lot to learn, Auradon. That coward is probably alive somewhere,” Carlos says bluntly, “Jemma Hook is the only Captain Hook that matters anymore.”
“If you’re not a jaeger pilot, then who are you?” The man says, suspicion about on par with an islander toddler.
He can hear Harry chuckling beside him, and on his other side, Jace’s shoulders jostle his with silent laughter. He can even hear amused whispers from the other customers of the Slop Shop, eavesdropping unashamedly.
“Someone’s got to build the jaegers,” Carlos begins.
“That someone is you,” the other boy finishes, more wonder than disbelief, but a decent amount of both.
Carlos laughs, “Now you’re getting it, Auradon.”
A/N: OKAY, so… I think I know what happened to the other three, but apparently the plot bunny wanted this to happen first. And it has a very interesting take on how Ben and Carlos interact.
I guess it makes sense, they’re on Carlos’ turf after a year of him being creator of the jaegers, so it’s a bit of a role reversal…
We’ll see where this plot bunny takes us, I guess.
Btw, anyone have a suggestion for a title?
EDIT: NOW WITH TITLE: “A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS”