When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge - the Drift. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju attacks, which are escalating in power and frequency. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes - Emma Swan, a washed-up former pilot who lost her lover (and copilot) to the Kaiju during battle, and Regina Mills, an intrepid scientist driven by vengeance - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
DISCLAIMER: The characters from Once Upon a Time and Pacific Rim are not mine. I'm using them for fun, not profit. Hopefully I didn't mangle it too poorly! I'd like to give a special shoutout to WalnutHulls, who proofed this for me many times. If there are any mistakes, they're all mine.
He had flown in by helicopter. Of course he did.
She had heard the rumblings from the few contacts she had left in the program, that he had been seeking her out, but it had been five years. Five years where neither of them made any real effort to get over what had happened in Alaska.
And she was perfectly fine with that.
She had just come down from another shift on the construction site: her muscles ached from swinging down the I-beams after welding so many of them in place, and all she wanted was to get her rations, get out of her work gear, and maybe drink for a bit at the tavern by the docks. She wasn't one for hanging out in the bars very much anymore - she got her fill of that and then some shortly after Neal's death - but it was the only way to get news from the frontline since her TV was on the fritz again. The Jaeger Program was being shut down, and the funding was being reassigned to the Walls - giant barriers along the coastlines that should have kept the Kaijus from causing too much damage to the cities shielded by them.
Apparently the Walls were about as effective as the paper screens she wrecked during a bar fight gone south in Tokyo a few years back: not very. One of the damn monsters had torn through Australia's walls like wet tissue paper, and the only thing that stood between Sydney and total destruction was the Jagged Hook - the only Mark V Jaeger in the program. The new tech was amazing - she couldn't help but read up on it, despite herself - but with the program cut, it was the first and last one produced. Jagged Hook's Rangers - Graham Humbert and Killian Jones - were on top of their game, and easy on the eyes to boot. Jones seemed to have a chip on his shoulder the size of Eurasia, however, snarking about how weak pilots caused the failure of the Program.
They had just wrapped up the news segment when she heard it - the whirring of helicopter blades. Some of her coworkers continued to stare into their cups, but most everyone else looked out the window to see what the commotion was: a matte black helicopter, landing perilously close to the bar. Her heart lodged in her throat when she spied the Jaeger Program's insignia painted discreetly on the tail boom.
She hung back, thankful for the crowd, so she could take stock of the situation. She saw him almost immediately - his long black coat was wrapped around him, leaning heavily on his cane as he stepped out of the cabin. He took his sunglasses off to scan the area, and his gaze homed in on her like a guided missile. The man started to make his way through the curious crowd, who parted like the Red Sea for him. He still had it, apparently. She wasn't really surprised: he cut an intimidating figure, even with his age and his injury.
She decided to get it over with, and met him halfway. They both stopped, silently assessing one another. His brown hair, always a bit longer than she expected, was now streaked with gray. She was sure he was taking in the evidence of her harder living; she had tacked on a few more scars since she'd seen him last.
"Miss Swan. I'm glad to see you're well."
She kept her face neutral, but she balled her hands into fists within the confines of her jacket pockets. "Same to you, Mr. Gold." They regarded each other in silence after that, but the rising murmur of the crowd started to grate on her. "Care for a drink? First one's on me," she offered, gesturing to the tavern behind her.
"No, but thank you."
The tension continued to grow, and the spot right between her shoulder blades started to itch. She'd be damned if she was going to break first.
A small grin, laced with regret, finally appeared on Gold's face. "I suppose you're wondering why I'm here, Emma. Care to escort an old man back to his car?"
The tension eased slightly, but the itch refused to subside. "If by 'car' you mean 'helicopter,' sure." They walked side by side, and she could feel the stares from people she might have called friends once upon a time boring into her. "What's the deal, Gold?"
"I want you to rejoin the Program."
His words slugged her in the gut. She had expected it as soon as she saw that damn helicopter, really, but the lack of his usual preamble took her completely by surprise. She felt the color drain from her face, and she really could've used that drink. "I'm sorry, what?"
"You heard me well enough the first time, Emma." His face started to cloud over.
"I - Sir, I wasn't being a smartass." She held up her hands in surrender. "I did hear you, I just… you caught me off guard." She took a deep breath, bracing herself for the next bit. "It's been five years, Gold. Five years since - five years I've been out, and the Program's on its last legs. Why are you coming for me now?"
"The program still has a few months of funding left, and we both know I have ways to keep it going beyond that."
He looked her square in the eye, and she shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. Neal hadn't borne much resemblance to the man in front of her, except for the eyes. Gold's eyes were sharp like flint, and they lacked the twinkle Neal's had, but they still had the same shape, the same color… it was enough to make Emma hear him out.
"An apocalypse is coming, Miss Swan, and I need the best pilots I can get to prevent it… so I came to you. Are you in?"
She stepped back, and she wrapped her own coat around her like a suit of armor. "You know why I left. You know why I can't go back."
His gaze didn't waver. "So you'd rather die on the Wall? Installing rebar in hopes it will stop a Category I assault? Or would you rather die fighting in a Jaeger?"
She would have preferred to die when she lost Neal, but she didn't say that out loud. She didn't have to. Gold fell silent; she wasn't sure if he regretted his words, or if he was trying to pour the pressure on. Emma looked at the Wall, its scaffolding reaching to the sky like the ribcage of a rotting corpse, and then back to the man who had recruited her so many years ago.
"I'll hear you out, but I'm not making any promises. Let me get my gear."
Regina Mills stood on the flight deck, umbrella in hand, as she waited for Gold to arrive with the newest recruit. The black fabric snapped tight as the wind swooped under the panes, and she had to tighten her grip to keep the umbrella from flying away. It already looked like it was about to flip inside out, though, making it relatively useless in keeping her dry under the downpour. She tried to tuck her dark brown hair behind her ears, but it kept flipping to the sides as the wind shifted.
She knew she didn't have to be on deck to meet Gold, but her curiosity had been piqued when he told her he had finally found the linchpin to their operation. The flight was running late, though, and she had half a mind to tell the Control Tower to notify her of Gold's arrival so she could go back inside the Shatterdome and warm up for a bit. It was so cold out that her wedding band was getting chilled as it rested on her breastbone, dangling from the chain she wore it on. She was just about to hit her comm button when she heard the helicopter blades over the sound of the roaring wind. Moments later, the skids touched the deck, and the blades started slowing down. Gold disembarked first, ignoring the rain that pelted him, and moved aside for their newest team member.
A taller woman stepped down from the cargo area, clad in a red leather jacket and skinny jeans. A fuzzy gray cap covered most of her hair, but a few blonde strands had escaped, and the rain plastered them to her forehead. She carried an olive green duffle bag, decorated with a few faded patches stitched to the surface. Her boots came up over the calf, and Regina expected to see them end in ridiculously high heels; the heels were actually reasonable, however, much to her surprise. The woman's hands were bare, revealing pale skin lightly marked with a few scars. The newcomer seemed physically fit and conventionally attractive, but other than that... she couldn't figure out why Gold hunted her down.
Finished with her assessment, she made her way to the pair, offering the umbrella to Gold. He waved her off, and gestured to the woman beside him.
"Meet our newest pilot," the older gentleman said, a small but genuine smile on his face.
That was interesting - Gold's smiles were rarely sincere.
"Hey, I didn't agree to this just yet," the newcomer said, also shaking off Regina's reluctant offer to share the umbrella.
"Of course you didn't." Regina could hear the eyeroll in her superior officer's voice.
"She's not what I expected, Gold," Regina sniffed, defaulting to her native tongue.
Gold opened his mouth, but the woman shook her head and turned to fully face Regina. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. "I hope I didn't disappoint you," she replied in kind, startling Regina. "I'm Emma Swan, and you must be...?"
The ring warmed up suddenly, burning against her skin.
Blue-green eyes sparkled with mirth as she scrambled to collect herself, rejecting the proffered handshake. Emma Swan? The name sounded familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. "I'm Regina Mills, Director of the Mark III Restoration Project."
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Mills."
"Doctor Mills," Regina corrected, drawing herself up. She refused to let this woman throw her off her game, no matter who she was.
"Doctor," Swan agreed amicably. She rocked back on her heels as she looked to the sky, blinking as some of the rainwater dribbled into her eyes. "So... are we just going to stand here for a while, or what? I mean, I don't care either way, but..."
Gold's eyes darted between the two women, and Regina could practically hear the gears turning in his head. She tilted her head a bit and squinted at her superior, trying to figure out his sudden interest, before heading over to the nearest elevator. She held it open for the both of them, but Gold waved his hand.
"I'll join you later," he said in explanation, hobbling off towards another part of the flight deck. "Do enjoy the tour, Miss Swan - the Shatterdome has changed since you were here last."
"I'm sure it has," Swan muttered as the doors shut.
Silence filled the car as it descended into the bowels of the Shatterdome. Regina chafed at being relegated to impromptu tour guide, and the confidence Swan possessed when she stepped off the copter gave way to a nervous energy. It radiated off of her in waves, and it set Regina's nerves on edge.
"I take it you've been here before, Miss Swan?" she asked. She wasn't trying to break the awkward silence - she was merely assessing how much of a 'tour' she would have to give.
"Sure, you could say that." Swan removed her ridiculous hat, revealing long blonde locks that tumbled around her shoulders. She didn't offer anything else after that.
Well. So much for that line of questioning.
The doors finally gave way to a dimly lit corridor. The bright halogen lamps were spaced in a sporadic pattern, and the light they gave was swallowed by the gun-metal gray catwalks, piping, and conduit littering the walkway. They made their way to another elevator, ducking and weaving past various crewmembers. That was when Regina noticed a few of the senior staff doing a double take upon seeing Miss Swan. At first she assumed they were focusing on the taller woman's physical attributes, but that theory was tossed aside when she caught the expression on their faces. They were walking quickly, so she didn't have much time to analyze their reactions, but it looked like they recognized Swan - and were shocked to see her wandering the halls.
Regina placed her access chip on the control pad for the next elevator, and noticed Swan making a motion to do the same before stuffing her hands back in her jacket pockets at the last second. "Curious," she murmured - and cursed herself when the blonde arched an eyebrow at her. She hadn't meant to say that out loud.
They both jumped when a tall, lanky brunette rushed towards them, skidding into the elevator before it could close. She jammed her foot in between the closing doors, and stuck one of her heavily tattooed arms through the opening. "C'mon, Belle, before the door chops my toes off!"
A smaller woman followed suit, her reddish hair breaking free from the hasty bun she must have pulled it into. "I swear, Miss Lucas, this wouldn't be an issue if you had remembered your pass!" she huffed, squeezing herself into the confined space.
"What's more important: going back to my office for a stupid security chip, or checking out the newest lab specimens before the techs get at 'em?"
Regina was both annoyed and grateful for the interruption. "Both are of great importance, Professor Lucas," she intoned, glaring at her younger colleague. "Emma Swan, I'd like you to meet the entirety of our research division: Professors Ruby Lucas and Belle French."
French's eyes grew wide as saucers, while Lucas began to vibrate with excitement. "Holy shit, Emma Swan? Here?!" Lucas shrieked. "No fucking way!"
"It's an honor to meet you, Miss Swan," French supplied, holding her hand out.
Their reactions to Swan were confusing, to put it lightly, and Regina hated being in the dark. She started turning everything over in her mind, struggling to put the pieces together.
Meanwhile, Emma took French's hand in a firm grip and flashed a smile; Regina noted that it wasn't entirely sincere.
"I can't even..." Lucas clearly didn't notice; she was in rambling mode, twirling a chunk of dyed red hair around her fingers. "I just... wow. Emma Fucking Swan," she breathed.
"It's nice to meet the both of you," Emma replied, nodding to them. "You're really the entire research team?"
"Yeah, what's left of it. Savin' the best for last, naturally." Lucas waggled her eyebrows and leaned against the elevator wall, scooting closer to the blonde. Regina sighed. The girl sure moved quickly in the pursuit of one-night stands; it was a pity she couldn't move that fast on most of her research projects.
Swan backed up a bit, and glanced at Lucas's tattoos. "Is that Yamarashi?" Emma asked, pointing at one of the many Kaiju figures decorating the brunette's arms.
"Oh, yeah - you recognize it? I mean, of course you would! I'm an idiot, sorry." Lucas was looking at Swan like one would regard their favorite celebrity. "They're amazing creatures, y'know? Their biology is fascinating: dual brains to control their cognitive and motor functions, the ambient radiation they give off, and the way they tend to self-destruct right after death… I mean, Kaiju Blue is crazy! The corrosive properties alone are - wow, and the way it can render an entire area uninhabitable… Man, I'd love to see one of them up close."
"You wouldn't last two seconds against a Kaiju's bloated corpse, let alone a live creature," French sniffed. She rolled her eyes at her fellow researcher. "Ruby is our resident 'Kaiju Groupie.'"
"Am not! Geez, Belle-"
"Groupie or no," Swan interrupted, her voice grim, "you don't want to meet a Kaiju face to face, Professor Lucas. Trust me on this."
The taller woman actually looked contrite for once, adding another piece to the puzzle.
The elevator dinged, and French perked up. "This is our stop," she said. "Come along, Ruby."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Killjoy," the other woman groused. "Anyway, we'll see you ladies later, right? Right!" She waved her fingers at Swan, and even managed to throw her a wink, before a frustrated Belle tugged her away.
"That... was interesting," Swan offered in the renewed quiet of the car. "Anyone else I should look out for?"
"Funny you should mention that."