When I was kid, before I was sent to Jump Zero, before I snapped a mans neck with my mind, when my parents were still dealing with the fact their kid could move things with his mind, my mother used to tell about the K-War. The war at the beginning of the second millenium. Where mankind was nearly driven extinct.
Some people would think that would be pretty heavy to hear about as a child. A war where colossal monsters with supernatural strength and bodies so long they could be seen for miles around. Not exactly a story for the whole family.
But my mom knew what she was doing. Because even with all the horror, the stories of unstoppable monsters called Kaiju who lived purely on human flesh, controlled by aliens from another dimension, there were heroes.
I won't tell you the story my mother told me. That's mine, and its something I'll pass on to my own children one day. Instead, I'll tell you the official story.
On April 10th, the year 2013, Earth's history was changed when the first Kaiju attacked. A monster 302 feet tall and weighing 2700 hundred tons, it came from a interdimensional breach and destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This moment was called, K-Day. The Kaiju, now called Trespasser, traveled through the city of millions, ignoring any conventional weapons used against it as it devastated the cpopulace. Millions were killed.
Many of those millions were devoured, used to fuel the beast rampage.
In the end, after rampaging through Sacramento and San Francisco, it was killed in Oakland with three nuclear bombs, along with any survivors in the blast zone. Then it got worse. Only six months later, another monster appeared as the last one did, from a portal beneath the ocean. When that beast was defeated, another came. More and more, with increasing size and strength, coming faster and faster.
Even in defeat, the monsters caused damage. Kaiju Blue, the name given to the phenomenon that followed the spilling of Kaiju blood. Toxic and acidic, it destroyed the landscape, making it as costly to defeat the Kaiju as it was to fight them. For a time, it seemed humanity would drown beneath the beasts.
Until the people of Earth banded together to create the Jaeger program. Enormous machines built with neural implants to allow a pilot to move them as efficiently as their own bodies. Plasma guns were created to burn Kaiju flesh, limiting the risk of Kaiju blue significantly. Enormous blades were inserted into the machines to allow peak performance in hand to hand combat. Jaegers. The most incredible creations man ever dreamed of.
But it was to much for one human to control. The strain of moving such a massive and complex machine broke the mind of the first pilot to link with it causing seizures and eventually killing him. A scientist named Caitlin Lightcap came up with a solution. The Drift. She realized that by melding two minds together, two pilots could move a Jaeger with ease. But it required mind melding. Combining two minds took trust.
It took a bond that was unbreakable. Siblings, spouses, friends, none of it mattered. What mattered was the absolute faith between the pilots. Caitlyn and Sergio D'onofrio proved to fit the criteria, and together piloted the worlds first Jaeger, the Brawler Yukon to the greatest victory over the Kaiju humanity had ever seen. With that, the Jaeger project was in full effect. Humanity started winning.
With the Jaegers, humanity stood against the titans that threatened them. But even this was not enough. Kaiju started coming faster, each equipped with strange biological weapons to counter the Jaegers. In the end, only four of the more than thirty strong force of Jaegers had survived until the end of the war. In the end all the Jaegers and most of their pilots were sacrificed to bring the war to an end even as the governments of Earth had given up on them.
But they won. Gipsy Danger, a Mark 3 Jaeger, was piloted into the breach itself by hiding on the signature of a dead Kaiju, and detonated itself within as its pilots, Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori barely escaped with their lives, destroying the portal.
All told, the story should have ended there. But humanity was not willing to trust that conflict was over so soon. A year later, another portal opened. Kaiju poured out, dozens, rising from the depths to attack once more. Only to stop. Because when the Kaiju attacked again, they were met by a force made up of Jaegers. A force made up of 60 impossibly huge robots, created by using the remains of their fallen brothers and sisters. Mark 6, each top of the line, trained by the best and willing to sacrifice everything for humanity. And at the front, stood the Gipsy Danger 2, piloted by Raleigh Bucket and Mako Mori. As the Kaiju stared at the army facing them with the best dumbfounded look a monster can sport, Mako and Raleigh shared a smirk before saying two words in unison.
At least, that's how my mom tells it.
With that final battle humanity removed the threat of the Kaiju. The new portal is defended round the clock by an ever more powerful force of Jaegers, each more than capable of handling an army. Raleigh and Mako became heroes, and upheld as some of the greatest example of humanity in history.
They continued to train new Jaeger pilots, and streamlined the process of joining the Earth under a single united government until their deaths decades later. It was no surprise that with this newfound peace, humanity became ready to tackle new challenges. And so it turned to the stars.
And the Jaegers, now an important part of human culture, were at the forefront of this endeavor. Once primarily combat weapons, new Jaegers were built for exploration, traveling the Solar System. And then, on Mars in the year 2148, a new discovery was made.
The Prothean research facility. With the discovery that more life had once existed in the universe came the technology. Element zero and mass effect fields revolutionize human technology, allowing for the building of larger Jaegers with Mass Effect drives.
The mass effect drive allows Jaegers to move with blistering speed and power by using the fields to lesson the mass of the Jaegers. This also allows for limited flight in gravity environments, and constant flight in deep space. Mass effect fields also allow for Jaegers with shielding. One more upgrade given to them is due to the realization that the fields can 'shape' a plasma shot in mid-flight, allowing for plasma shots to hit at incredible ranges by forcing formerly shapeless plasma into a more aerodynamic shape.
Of course, all these neat gadgets were soured by the First Contact War.
The turians, a member of the Council Races, attacked when they see human explorers try to activate a dormant mass relay, a practice forbidden by Council law. Though they took out many of the soldiers guarding the relay, the turians found themselves completely outmatched. No vessel made by the Council races could match a Jaegers speed, strength, maneuverability, and flexibility, making fighting one in a standard spaceship a practice in futility. The Jaegers and their pilots, led by Commander Williams of the Alliance Navy, curbstomped the turian invaders on every front.
That isn't to say the turians didn't fight back as well as they could. Superb tacticians, disciplined soldiers, and a brilliant ability to hold tight under pressure, allowed them to strike back against the monsters around them. Many Jaeger pilots lost their lives in the war. But it wasn't enough.
For the next month, turians were continuously driven back by the human defenders, and the Turian Hierarchy began to prepare for full scale war. Luckily the Citadel Council intervened before more bloodshed could ensue. The Pacific Rim Alliance Of Earth, named for the final battle in the Jaeger-Kaiju war, agreed to a truce, and joined the greater galactic community.
As part of the agreement, humanity gave the Citadel Races the schematics to build their own Jaegers (Something many pro-human groups say was stupid. I say they're racist assholes who can't the long-term benefits of simply working together). The concept of Drift Compatibility, so much like Asari mind melding, became a subject of great scientific interest. In return, humanity was given access to many of the technological advantages developed by the Council Races. Omni-tools and omni-gel, access to research facilities across the galaxy, permission to mine out planets for resources.
Some aliens grew terrified by the speed of our growth. In the span of a few decades, we had an empire rivalling the Asari or Turians. Jaegers built to mine, swim, and withstand the pressures of space helped us explore in ways that had once been unimaginable.
The fact that drifting itself took a full decade to be developed for alien minds didn't help. In the time it took for other races to have functional Jaegers, humanity had a fleet of hundreds for the military, and more for civilian use.
All in all, its a tough road to be human. But we'll make it. We have our own strength, and we have the strength of the aliens that actually see as as worth a damn. Like always, we'll face the odds, and take them as they come.
My name is Kaidan Alenko, and I approve this message.
In a room in the Presidium of the Citadel, three men look at datapads with critical eyes. One of them, an balding older man dressed in formal clothing, looks up from his datapad.
"Well, what about Shepard? He's a spacer. Lived aboard starships most of his life."
The man across from him, a black man who carries himself like a soldier, nods. "Military service runs in the family. Both his parents were in the navy."
The two of them look up at the third person in the room, a grizzled man with a large scar going down his right cheek. The man has a grim smile on his face as he plops his datapad on the table. "You're forgetting his sister."
The balding man blinks and looks back at his datapad. "Oh yes. His sister. Colorful history on this one." He frowns. "How is it that twins can have such completely different backgrounds?"
"Look closer Udina. Its right there you see." The black man asks calmly.
Udina frowns. "Ah yes. Remind which Kaiju it was Anderson?"
"Remf." The two soldiers in the room say with a shared smirk. Udina notices it and frowns. "Is there something I'm missing Mr. Hackett?"
Steven Hackett smirks a bit wider. "Just a joke between two old men Udina. Still, the strange history between the twin Shepard's in well documented now. A Kaiju attack on the hospital they were born in separated the two. While John was taken by his parents as they escaped onto a starship, Jane was found in the rubble, and was assumed to be an orphan in the attack. Still, both seemed destined for the military. High scores in all fields of the military. Jane is a Sentinel class, and seems to be the more tactical of the two. John carries the Vanguard classification, and has shown incredible aptitude in close quarters combat. All in all, extremely proficient warriors on the ground."
"And then there's their Jaeger piloting skills." Anderson adds as Udina stares at his datapad in shock.
"My word." The man says in stunned silence.
"My thoughts exactly." Anderson says with a smile. "They only found out about their relationship in the academy, thanks to the standard DNA testing required in their physicals. Despite having almost no relationship outside of blood, they are some of the most Drift compatible pilots we've ever seen. Not to mention the fact that for some reason, they can pilot effectively with almost anyone else. They work best together of course, but they don't seem to slow down when you replace their partners with someone else."
"It served them well on Elysium." Hackett adds casually. "With an outdated Jaeger, they managed to hold off the Batarians, switching between each other so there was always a Shepard either on the ground leading troops or in the Jaeger destroying ships. From what I'm told, it was the sister that came up with the idea, but both did as well leading troops as they did piloting. Command material, the best the N8 program has ever produced."
Udina puts his datapad down with a sigh. "But in the end, we can only have one Spectre candidate. So which will it be?"
The entire room sat silent.
John Shepard stands in a empty room looking at the planet below with a look of melancholy on his face. A tall man with a shaved head and dark eyes, he seems to be in deep thought. In actuality, he's thinking about his guns. Specifically, the ones on his back.
'Seriously, why am I required to carry four weapons when I can only use two of them? I'm a Vanguard, I never received any training with sniper rifles or assault rifles! At best I can bash someone in the head with them.' He thinks to himself. 'Heck, I don't even like sniper rifles or assault rifles. If I need to hit something I can't reach with my shotgun, I'll either use my pistols or my powers to take them down. Stupid regs.'
He starts to grumble under his breath, getting more agitated as time goes by. He's so lost in his thoughts that he doesn't notice another person is in the room with him until he's tapped on the shoulder. He spins around, startled, only to relax.
"Oh. Hey Jane. You need me for something?"
His fraternal twin sister gives him a small smirk. Shorter than John, she still manages to stand out, with bright red hair and piercing red eyes. She gives him a consoling pat on the back.
"Thinking about the gun thing again?"
"I just don't get it." He said gloomily. "I can't use two of them, why would I have to carry them anyways?"
Jane grins as she slaps his arm playfully. "Quit complaining. At least you can use your shotgun. I'm stuck with three useless weapons." She pulls him away from the window. "Come on. We're heading into the mass relay. Maybe it'll take your mind off things."
John smiles a bit as they enter the elevator. "Heck, maybe we'll see your stalker while we're at it."
Jane stumbles a bit. "Can we not joke about that!? Seriously, the guy is around every corner I go around. The only reason it isn't creepier is that he follows you too."
He smiles. "And the fact that he usually ends up following you right after?"
"I have a gun." She say flatly.
He laughs as they step off the elevator, coming into the CIC of the SSV Normandy. The pair head to the bridge, stepping around crew members and trading quick salutes as they go. They get to the bridge in time to watch as they enter the relay. In a burst of light, the ship is sent halfway across the galaxy. With one shift of gravity, the entire ship has broken the laws of physics.
Jane turns when she realizes someone is talking.
"...just under 1500 K." Joker, a young man with a scruffy beard and Alliance Navy cap says casually.
"1500 is good. Your captain will be pleased."
Jane groans internally when she realizes that she recognizes the second voice. Out of the corner of her eye she sees the form of Nihlus, the turian spectre that John jokingly calls her stalker. Like all his race, he has the appearance of predatory bird, his face covered in white face paint that contrasts against his brown skin. Jane can almost feel John's amusement as Nihlus turns to leave. She blinks in surprise when her thoughts are voiced by someone else.
"I hate that guy." Joker says.
Kaiden Alenko, the final person in the room, gives Joker a disbelieving look. "Nihlus compliments you. So you hate him?"
John speaks up before Joker can respond. "Well he seems to have a gift for making people dislike him. Right Jane?"
"Can we leave it alone? Please? Seriously, I will shoot you. You've got medi-gel, it won't affect you for long."
At this, Joker seems to perk up. "Whats the matter Shep, you and your boyfriend lose the magic between you?"
Jane is contemplating the merits of shooting her brother and pilot when Commander Anderson calls on the intercom.
"Joker. Status report."
"Just cleared the mass relay, Captain," replied Joker. "Stealth system engaged. Everything looks solid."
"Good," said Captain Anderson. "Find the nearest comm buoy and link us into the network. I want mission reports relayed back to Alliance brass before we reach Eden Prime."
"Aye, aye, captain. Better brace yourself, sir," Joker warned. "I think Nihlus is headed your way."
"He's already here, Lieutenant," Captain Anderson replied, amusement in his voice. Kaiden glanced at Joker, who was shaking in his head in an nervous way. "Tell John and Jane to meet me in the comm room for a debriefing."
The twins sigh and turn away as Kaiden reprimands Joker. On the way they run into Presley, a balding man dressed in Alliance blue. John stops to talk to him as Jane continues on to join Jenkins and Dr. Chakwas. After a bit, they meet back up in front of the comm, both deep in thought as they prepare to enter. They take a moment to look at each other.
"I think Presley might be racist." John says.
"I think we should keep Jenkins out of away missions for a bit." Jane says.
The pair sigh in unison, and John opens the door to the comm room. As they enter, Nihlus is looking at an image of the planet they're heading for, Eden Prime. He turns to look at them.
"Ah, just the pair I was looking for."
Jane holds back another groan. John decides to take point for her.
"Can I ask why? Is there something wrong?"
"I was curious about this world we're going to." He says far too casually.
"Well, Jenkins was raised there." Jane answers. "He says the place is a paradise. Not much in the way of a military force yet."
"Yes... a paradise. Serene. Tranquil. Safe." Nihlus looks between the two of them, as if he's studying them. John stiffens his back as he begins to realize that despite how he and Jane had been joking around, Nihlus was still an experienced soldier, and a commanding officer. "Eden Prime has become something of a symbol for your people, hasn't it? Proof that humanity can not only establish colonies across the galaxy, but also protect them. But how safe is it, really?"
"Whats going on, Nihlus? What aren't you telling us?" John says as Jane took position next to him.
At that moment, Captain Anderson stepped in. He gave Nihlus a serious look. "I think you should tell them Nihlus."
The Spectre nods. "Very well. This isn't just a shakedown run. We're going into Eden Prime to pick up something of extreme importance."
The twins share a glance. "Well," John says carefully. "Most of the ship has guessed that. What's so important that you couldn't tell anyone the full details of this mission?"
"Because of what was found at a dig-site on the planet." Anderson answers stoically. "A Prothean beacon, to be specific."
Jane felt a shock go through her. "A beacon? Are you serious?"
Nihlus nods. "Deadly. Anytime a civilization find a cache of Prothean technology, its science is catapulted hundreds of years. Look at the progress of your own people when they found the facility on Mars." He looks at each of them carefully. "Of course, this time humans aren't the only ones who will benefit. The Council is very interested it what could be hidden in that beacon. And since Eden Prime doesn't have the facilities to research the beacon thoroughly-"
"We're taking it to the Citadel." Jane finishes. "Makes sense. A lot of races are nervous about humanity. This would help smooth things over a bit."
"Also explains why you're here Nihlus." John adds. "The Council would want a Spectre on something so important. Glad to have the help." Jane grumbles under her breath at that, which makes John smirk a bit.
"Actually, that's not the only reason Nihlus came along." Anderson cuts in. "He actually came for you."
"What?" John asks, sharing a glance with Jane. "Which one?"
"Both." Nihlus says calmly. "I will be taking this opportunity to evaluate you both at the same time. To become Spectres."
Jane, a little bit more knowledgeable on political matters then her brother, feels herself take in a breath. "That's a big step for humanity. We've been trying to get more influence in Council matters for years."
"Yes. And that's one of the reasons why I put you both forward as candidates."
If there was any doubts that John and Jane were twins, they disappear at the sight of the equally confused looks on their faces. "You?" John says. "No offense, but even with all the time that's gone by, I thought it would be decades before any turian would forgive humans for the Relay 314 incident."
Nihlus cocks his head at John's use of the turian name for said incident, rather than the human name. "I understand why you would think so. In pure military terms, the whole affair was an absolute disaster for the turians. And of course, those are the only terms turian leadership thinks in. But I don't care about that. You both proved yourselves on Elysium. Fighting together with absolute precision while leading civilian troops against almost overwhelming odds."
Jane smirks. "Not really. No odds are overwhelming with a Jaeger on your side."
"Even an outdated one? One with no shields, mass effect drives, or weapons?" Nihlus says pointedly. "That's the kind of soldier we need in the Spectres. Someone who can take a good look at the odds and find a way to beat them. Its why I put you both forth as candidates." He crossed his arms behind his back. "Of course, this won't be our only mission together. The plan is for us to go on several missions, with me sending in reports on your progress together. If all goes well, one, or even both of you, will be the first member of your species to be a Spectre."
"Until then, we focus on the mission at hand. John, you're in charge of securing the beacon for transport to the Citadel. Jane will take point with Nihlus. You'll keep in radio contact at all times. We can't run the risk of raiders getting their hands on the beacon if it turns out to be a weapons archive. So Nihlus and Jane will go in to confirm the beacons location, and John's team will arrive to secure it." Anderson was going to continue, when Joker came on the intercom.
"Captain, we've got a problem."
They all look up, instincts from old battles surging to the forefront. "What's wrong Joker?
"Transmission from Eden Prime, sir. You better see this."
"Bring it up on screen." The group direct their attention to the vid-screen.
For a moment, there is nothing but gunfire and static. After a moment, a woman appears. She is wearing black N7 armor, and carrying the standard assault rifle, her black helmet covering most of her features. John frowns and watches the woman move forward and push the filmmaker aside as she yells at him to get down. The screen continues to shake as a group of soldiers fire in one direction. Despite the chaos onscreen, the soldiers react with admirable fire discipline, obviously picking their targets with timed bursts rather than firing wildly. The woman takes leadership of the group, directing them where to pick their fire in loud yells as she fires away next to them. A sudden lull overcomes the battlefield, and the soldiers stare at something off-screen before the female officer snaps them back to attention. The camera spins around to focus on a huge black object in the distance. This seems to be enough for the soldiers, and all beat a ordered retreat as they fall back, watching each others backs.
"Everything cuts out after that. There's scattered reports of fighting, but some kind of jammer must be in effect. Whatever is happening, Eden Prime isn't giving up yet, that much we can tell."
Anderson nods. "Good. Reverse the video and hold at 38.5"
The video bounces back and stops on a image. The group seems to take in a collective breath at what is on screen. It look like a massive metal creature, rising above the landscape on Eden Prime like something from hell. John asks the first question on everyone's mind.
"Is that... a Kaiju?"
"Can't be." Nihlus says with a shake of his head. "No planet except Earth has ever shown any sign of Kaiju activity."
"Whatever it is, the mission has gotten a lot more complicated." Anderson said grimly. "Joker, Status report."
"Seventeen minute out, Captain. No other Alliance ships in the area."
"What about Citadel? Asari or Turian?" Jane asks.
"Out this far in the Terminus systems? No, no one else."
"Take us in then. Fast and quiet." Anderson commanded.
"We should stick to the original plan sir." John says as the others turn to him. "Jane can go with Nihlus to provide intel on the area, while my team provides fire support."
Captain Anderson turns to Nihlus. "Is that alright with you Nihlus?"
The turian shrugs. "I move faster on my own. But it would be nice to have some backup. And despite the circumstances, its a good way to evaluate you both. See how you handle a mission that takes this kind of turn."
"Good enough for me." Jane says calmly.
"Very well. Get Alenko and Jenkins and suit up. Be ready in ten."
The three of them walk out of the room, leaving Anderson to stare at the screen, contemplating the image of the behemoth before him.
Nihlus left the twins to get his own gear. Jane turned to her brother. "Hey, you saw the same thing as me right? An N7 operative."
He nodded. "Yep. Well trained too. Rare that you see them so far out in Terminus space."
"Yeah. You recognize her?"
"Nope. Could be someone who joined right after we got promoted into the N8 Jaeger program?"
"Could be." She said thoughtfully, biting her lip as she spoke. "Guess we'll find out." They nodded to each other, then walked away.
Time to get to work.