It’s as if all the thoughts have flown out of Carlos’ head leaving only an overwhelming sense of relief, vague confusion, that mild contrariness from before. And fear. Denial. But the part of him that is the head of the jaeger program is already moving, planning, changing up orders.
“Get more pilot suits,” he says to the technician, who startles but does as told. To Dreda he says, “Tell your crew to prep the fourth jaeger,” and though she hesitates at first to look him in the eyes, she nods and leaves as well.
He doesn’t fully understand it, but it’s as if he just suddenly knows. Knows that what Auradon says it the best course of action. He doesn’t need the drift analyst to know that the four of them would be better jaeger pilots than he and Dreda.
“Queen Cobra?” He asks Evie, she tilts her head toward Mal and Auradon and smiles, small and reserved.
“And the Dragon Knight,” she says, and something in Carlos deflates, resigned.
Carlos sighs, a long quiet exhale that drains everything but the jaeger program from him. “Let’s get to work, pilots,” he says, then turns and walks away, headed towards the control room where he belongs. The docks are his domain, here he is king.
Queen Cobra is the first to set out, towards the class five kaiju.
Mal knows that Evie and Jay will be fine, in part because of her own experience of them. Evie’s omniscience combined with Jay’s battle prowess could only be enhanced by the literal giant fighting machine Carlos has built. They’ll be fine, she knows, because she has faith in them; they are her friends, and she believes in them.
Those aren’t words she’s all that familiar with, but in the drift with Ben it’s easy to admit these things.
In the drift, she also tells Ben the complete truth of the kaiju. Thoughts bounce between Mal and Ben, pooling together their knowledge and building off of each other.
The kaiju are to that world what the jaeger are to theirs–tools for battle. But where the masters of that strange world use the kaiju for conquest, Carlos has built his for defense.
Carlos has built the jaegers out of scraps, not bioengineering like the masters. There are only four jaegers; four jaegers to defeat over a year’s worth of kaiju.
If the masters had gotten a hold on the mind behind the jaegers… It’s why Mal couldn’t let Carlos go.
The past several kaiju had not been designed to demolish everything in their path. All of the past kaiju had headed straight for the Isle, not the shores of Auradon. They had been designed to capture Carlos.
How dare they?
A wave of protective aggression crashes through their drift. It is the ferocity of Mal defending her gang and the devotion of Ben fighting for the boy he loves.
How dare they even try?
The Dragon Knight won’t let that happen.
All of the jaegers are equipped with cameras, streaming directly to the control room; all the better to keep track of the situation. The footage caught on that day tells a story. A story of survival, yes, but there’s more to it than that.
It is a story, not about heroes defeating villains, but of humanity. Of people, regardless of their past and their legacy, working together to protect each other. The Hell Jalopy and the Rebel Watcher, two jaegers built by Isle and Auradon hands, used by Isle and Auradon pilots. Both defending each other to defeat their shared enemy.
It is a story, not about villains’ kids realizing their potential for heroism, but of redemption. The Queen Cobra, Evie and Jay, defending the Isle which their parents’ greed had put at risk. Proving that magic is power, but power can be used for great acts instead of terrible.
It is a story, not about good versus evil and the unlikely places both can grow, but of sacrifice. The Dragon Knight’s camera works up until it crosses through the tear into the world of the kaiju. Maybe it was the signal, or maybe the strange star and it’s twisted light could not be recorded. The events that occurred there will forever be a secret, known only to Ben and Mal.
It is a story, not about a boy defying both nature and nurture to save the world, but of a boy just trying to do his best. A boy who built a ship for a heartbroken girl, a boy who let his friends fight despite the risk, a boy who asked for aid and was always surprised to receive it. A boy in love.
It has been said that every story is a love story.
The steady beeping of the heart monitor has been the soundtrack of Carlos’ life for past two weeks. It’s as easy to manage the gradual shutdown of the jaeger program from a hospital room as it is from the docks. Though he does admit, he has been delegating a lot of his duties to Harry, Jace, and Dreda.
It’s not like he’s the only visitor: Evie and Jay stop by frequently, as much to reconnect with him as it is to check on Mal–without the rush of danger, the gang can take their time. They realize that Carlos has gotten a growth spurt in the past year and is finally taller than Evie, so long as she doesn’t wear heels. He’s still no match for Jay, of course.
Chip has acted the part of a guilt ridden statue in the room everyday. When he’s not arguing on behalf of the Isle for better equipment and better supplies and a better way of life, really– “Just continuing what he would have wanted,” Chip shrugs, though with how tense he is, it’s more like a hunching of his shoulders.
But Carlos has a lot of time to himself, the metronomic beeping and his thoughts. No more kaiju, so no more jaeger program. No more head of the jaeger program, so he’s just Carlos now. Just himself–a runty, nerdy boy from the Isle.
With a prince from Auradon?
The steady beeping of the heart monitors suddenly… isn’t. Carlos startles out of his sulk to stare–the pulses on the monitors are getting faster. Away from comatose state into consciousness.
They’re waking up.
Carlos pushes the call button for a nurse who enters, startles at the long-awaited revival of her patients, and proceeds to summon practically an entire army of nurses and doctors. Most of them are from Auradon, and they crowd around their prince, but there are some who circle around Mal’s bed. At least until her hoarse, but still scathing voice forces them to make room for Carlos.
“Carlos,” she calls, voice rough from disuse, and she gestures weakly at him to come closer.
The first thing Mal does to him, after he’s within grabbing reach, is to take Carlos’ head in both of her hands and just…. stare. Even without knowing she now has magic, Carlos freezes in fear–Mal had always been more intimidating than Jay despite muscle mass, despite the fact that she’s been unconscious for two weeks.
“I don’t want to kiss you,” she says evenly to him. Which… okay?
“I don’t want to kiss you either?” He agrees uncertainly, this is a very strange conversation.
“But if you do not kiss that guy soon,” Mal says, physically turning Carlos’ head so he can see Auradon in the other bed, “I may just kiss you to put all three of us out of our misery.”
Carlos is fairly sure that doesn’t make any logical sense, but he’s not going to argue. So he nods, or nods as much as he can with his head in her grip.
She releases him, and though he straightens his back he stays by her bed. “Mal,” Carlos reaches for her hand, and she magnanimously lets him hold it, “You did good,” he says.
She shoots back, “We all did good,” and they both laugh at the irony–the baddest gang of the Isle, saving the world. Then she bats his hand away, and Carlos probably would feel hurt except she pointedly waves towards Auradon’s bed, significantly less crowded than before.
And Carlos’ empty chair next to it.
“Hey Carlos,” Auradon rasps, and smiles. “I’m back from my quest,” his fingers barely have to twitch before Carlos grabs for his hand.
“You brought my friends back to me,” Carlos responds, voice little more than a whisper.
“You asked for them,” Auradon says simply, easily, as if he would give Carlos anything he asked for without hesitation. Because… that is what he’s been doing, Carlos realizes. “I have been trying to court you for several months, Carlos,” he explains.
“Auradon–” Carlos starts, then stops, cheeks flushed red. Because even now, he doesn’t know Auradon’s actual name.
Fond amusement spreads across his face, stretching his grin wide, “Please, call me Ben.”
A/N: IT’S FINALLY DONE! WOOHOO!!!! Descendants fandom you are now also the recipient of my second ever completed multi-part story!
Just want to say thanks a lot to theotpauthor for all the encouragement during this fic! I’m so thankful to you, really, and your messages were greatly appreciated. You know how frustrated I was with this story, but you really helped me through it. So thanks again 🙂
And, yeah, it’s technically three in the morning on the 28th, buuuuuut whatever. I’m counting it as my August 27th post.
Okay, if I’m gonna be completely honest, there was more content that I was considering putting in but decided not to. Because, seriously, this was getting too long. Just little things, like–what happened to the villain parents, especially the magical ones involved with the ritual. And random stuff like–I was actually considering keeping Anthony Tremaine alive and having him be drift compatible with Doug? But then it was like… that’s totally unnecessary.
So if anyone wants to shoot me questions about various head canons I have about this story that I couldn’t include in the story itself, go for it. That sounds like fun.
Also, if anyone would be willing to beta this so I can put it up on ao3, please let me know. Because that would be really cool, and I would be extremely grateful.