A Tale of Two Kingdoms, part 4/11 (2015-08-18)

What ensues during the following months is the strangest rivalry the Isle has ever seen. It’s also the most argumentative courtship Chip has ever witnessed which, considering what his childhood was like, is certainly saying something. The different views probably explain the confusion.

Carlos asks for cars, Ben gives him cars. And boats. And computers. And planes, because why not.

Carlos asks for better tools, Ben provides those. As well as access to factories and Auradon technicians who don’t mind working alongside islanders or under a teenager.

Carlos asks for pilots, and Ben volunteers himself… until drift compatibility is explained to him.

“You can’t just jump in a jaeger with a random person and hope for the best, Auradon,” Carlos says, refusing to even learn Ben’s name, much less use it, “The pilots have to be compatible in order to share the controls. Otherwise you’ll end up with the disaster that would have been Gaston the Fourth.”

Ben grimaces at the mention, and not just because of the stories his mother has told him about her youth.

Carlos seems to think of him as a challenge and a resource, for some reason prickly at Ben’s generosity but willing enough to answer his questions. The rest of the Isle look at him with a collective bemusement, cautious but grateful, and a little entertained by his interactions with their jaeger program head.

But the Gaston twins? It’s not like Ben has announced his parentage–the islanders just seem to take his identity as Auradon at face value–but those two seem to somehow know, as if expecting him to transform into a monster at any second.

Or maybe it’s jealousy. They were supposed to have been jaeger pilots instead of Harry and Jace, it would have been their opportunity to be heroes as they seemed to think of themselves. For Ben to arrive and successfully aid the program without being a pilot himself, well. Just imagine how pissed they would be if they knew who he actually was.

With all the material he’s getting from Auradon, building a two-person jaeger out of the remains of the Jolly Roger is no longer a problem. In fact, they have enough for another two double jaegers, which Carlos sets his technician teams to work on. Auradon gave him actual engineers who follow his directions; that guy is so strange.

The problem now isn’t the lack of jaeger parts, or a lack of technicians, it’s a lack of jaeger pilots.

No matter how willing Auradon seems to be, it’s not just a matter of stuffing two random volunteers into the cockpit. If it were just that, there wouldn’t be a problem–sure the Isle is made up of villains and evildoers and their despicable descendants, but there have been a lot of islanders willing to risk their lives to save their friends and family.

Really, they were lucky that Harry and Jace were drift compatible, that the Hell Jalopy has a stable pair of pilots.

They need drift compatible pilots, and there aren’t any more on the Isle. Even including the engineers, Chip, and Auradon himself.

Carlos thinks this will be the sticking point. It’s one thing to give materials, one thing to have people build the jaegers, but piloting is dangerous. Has already proven deadly. Auradon may be willing to volunteer himself, but there’s no way he can get others to do it.

He’s just one guy, not the personification of a kingdom. Carlos knows what it’s like now to be seen as more than himself, as a means to an end instead of just a boy, the head of the jaeger program instead of Carlos De Vil. He shouldn’t expect so much from the other boy, no matter what he calls him.

Ben knows that being a good king isn’t about power. It’s not about absolute rule backed by strength and fear. It’s respect. It’s asking his people to do something, and having them agree because they believe in it too.

The engineers working on the Isle now? They were the ones working on the Wall, despite knowing how futile it was against the kaiju. They were the ones who saw the Jolly Roger fight back. They know, more than Ben does, just how important the jaeger program really is.

There’s no difficulty in getting people with faith in something to help contribute to that cause.

But pilots are another matter.

“They have to be teenagers,” Harry admits, because Carlos won’t.

“Have to?” Chip asks–like Ben, he’s been helping out with the jaeger program as much as he can, and has become fond of the islanders that are part of it.

“Carlos tried to change the programming,” Jace says, “There are at least a few parents who would rather be pilots than watch their kids do it,” though on the Isle, that number isn’t very high.

“It’s the compatibility–adults have a stronger sense of self than most teenagers,” Harry explains with a shrug.

Teenaged volunteers for jaeger pilots… this particular request is going to be harder than Ben thought.

Auradon leaves the Isle. He says it’s to find jaeger pilots, but Carlos knows it’s an impossible mission. At best, Carlos expects him to come back having tried and failed, a sheepish smile on his lips, with a few more planes and technicians as a consolation prize.

At worst? Well… no, no need to even consider that. He’ll come back, he has to. He’s left Chip behind, there’s no way Auradon won’t come back.

Carlos spends the next few weeks a little snappish and irritable, combing over every little move the technicians make until Harry and Jace bodily remove him from the jaeger docks.

“You’re making them nervous,” Jace scolds.

“Of course they’re going to make more mistakes when you’re breathing down their necks,” Harry adds, shaking Carlos by the collar of his jacket. She hasn’t done that in ages, and not because of his growth spurt.

“They have your blueprints, they know what they’re doing, just let them build in peace.” Jace finishes, before handing Carlos a sandwich. The food on the Isle has gotten better too, yet another thing Auradon keeps giving him. Them. The Isle, that is.

“What’s wrong with you?” Harry asks, when it appears that not even food can make his bad mood go away.

“I’m thinking about Jemma,” Carlos deflects, though now that he says it, he really is, “I wonder if… had I known to split the control of the Jolly Roger…”

“It’s not your fault,” Jace reassures quickly.

“Yeah, I know,” sometimes Carlos does, anyway, “But what I meant was. Who she would have been drift compatible with. Maybe I would’ve–”

“Except we need you to build the jaegers, not pilot it,” Harry interrupts.

To which Carlos scowls, but agrees, “Yes, that. But I wonder if… maybe she would have been drift compatible with Uri.”

Harry and Jace share a worried, knowing glance.

“I wonder what happened to them,” Carlos continues; there is only one particular set of ‘them’ that could refer to.

Time moves differently on this side of the tear. They know it’s been over a year, they have watched their friend change and grow and lose so much. Whenever they can, whenever they feel safe enough, they crowd around Evie’s tiny mirror and watch him.

They know that months have passed. But to them, it only feels like days. A few weeks at most, really.

They need to get back. Somehow. They need to get back to Carlos. To tell him what they’ve seen, to tell him what’s coming.

To tell him how to stop the kaiju for good.


A/N: It’s a bit messy, but I figured better to post this and edit it later than have it languish on my laptop.


A Tale of Two Kingdoms, part 3/11 (2015-08-16)

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.

For now.

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?


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.