I feel like I'm getting lazy with my writing. Hopefully I'm not.
Gipsy had offlined the moment the officials arrived, and he was sure Striker had done the same - if he was as smart as he claimed, something Gipsy was starting to doubt. But his peaceful 'slumber' was interrupted the when he was forced to awaken by the technicians, a jarring and stinging sensation traveling through his limbs one at a time. If he knew pain, he'd claim the process hurt.
He extended his sensors to the three jaegers in the hangar with him, but only Striker pinged back. He was just as confused as Gipsy at the sudden awakening.
"A-are you sure about this? I mean, it does sound a little ridiculous, don't you think? Jaegers? With minds of their own-" Whoever spoke was cut off by a stern, official sounding voice. Gipsy wasn't sure if he liked it or not.
"That's why we're making sure. You two," He seemed to gesture to someone… two someones. Familiar. "Drift trial in one hour. Keep the jaeger online."
Gipsy wished he had optics, so he could see who was talking.
There was a scuffling, he thinks, then a shout. His pilots! They were his pilots, he remembered, and they were going to drift with him, talk to him. But there was fear. Gipsy was afraid, afraid they'd reject him and think it was too strange. His pilots. Would they consider leaving him?
Not an hour later were his pilots situated in his conn-pod, initiating the neural handshake. It didn't turn out like he'd expected.
They knew he was there. They could hear him, feel him. They were aware of his presence and Gipsy knew now he wouldn't be able to hide. Not like he wanted to, anyway - he always wanted to speak with his pilots!
They startled, and he could feel it.
:Alive… you're…?: Raleigh, Gipsy decided. That was Raleigh, because he was the most familiar. The oldest.
It was Mako's turn to speak now. Gipsy knew her voice as well, but not as well as Raleigh's. She too, like Raleigh, seemed unsettled. That worried Gipsy. :The technicians had suspicions about this sort of thing, but we didn't know if it was true:
:Not long ago, I woke. I knew things:
:Are you the only… you know…?:
:Awake? No. The annoying one is also awake: Annoying? Gipsy felt them catch on, and knew that they understood who this 'annoying one' was, without him having to elaborate. :So is the Old One. Cherno Alpha:
:Cherno? Hah! Everyone wondered about that old rust bucket. Didn't know if it was true or not…: Gipsy dipped into his old pilots memories, for just a moment. The humans had, in fact, been curious about Cherno's subtle shift in position every morning.
:What about Crimson?:
:No. Crimson Typhoon has been cold for a long time now:
:Oh. That's too bad…: Ralegh stalled for just a moment. Gipsy and Mako knew what he was thinking.
:You are good pilots:
Mako giggled, :Thank you, Gipsy. With your voice, should I be apologizing for saying 'she' all this time?:
Gipsy took that into consideration. Never had he thought about gender, or identifying himself as either male or female. It was unimportant, since he had no gender-specific… parts. :No need. It doesn't matter:
Raleigh snorted, :Hey, I'm not calling you a girl now. You sound way too… manly?: Mako mentally smacked him. :Just saying:
:So be it:
With the resolution of their conversation, Raleigh and Mako pulled out of the drift, contemplating what the hell just happened. Their Jaeger spoke to them. It was aware of them, and it knew them. And not only was Gipsy aware, but the other two, excluding Crimson, were 'sentient' as well.
It would take time to wrap their heads around such a thing.
Gipsy didn't remember offlining. He awoke, suddenly, waiting for the familiar warmth to kick in. As usual, he extended his sensors to his fellow Jaegers. Only Striker was online, where as Cherno hadn't onlined in quite a while, and Crimson… Gipsy never sensed any warmth from Crimson, and passed it off as 'not like him'. He sent a link invitation to Striker.
:Did your pilots drift with you?:
:Yeah, what of it?: Gipsy sensed Strikers warmth increase. Angry, maybe? Like Gipsy had once been?
:Do you think it's strange for us to: Gipsy stalled, strengthened the link when Striker tried to pull out, then continued. :Be 'sentient?:
:No. Humans overreact. They always do: Maybe he spoke to Cherno as well, who'd told Gipsy many things about humans on his first night. Not to move, to keep silent. Of course, Gipsy had done all those things anyway, but at the time he hadn't known any different.
:I don't care about your damn pilots:
Gipsy felt his warmth increase, and severed the link with Striker. The humans at his feet startled when he shifted. He wanted to move. Too bad they wouldn't let him, too many hazards. With nothing else to do, he offlined.
Gipsy decided he didn't like Striker.
The Marshal said Gipsy was free to roam, as long as he didn't break anything. Three-to-nine, he said. Gipsy relished the chance to walk without a pilot, and he had to stay near the other Jaegers. So he got stuck with Striker.
Striker just wanted to strut and tell Gipsy about his achievements. Gipsy didn't care.
Aleksis said Cherno would join them, but that never happened. Cherno would rather stay with his pilots and Crimson, who still hadn't shown signs of awareness. It made Gipsy wonder if he was one of a kind, a jaeger with awareness. Or if what he was was unintentional and unwelcomed. He knew the government officials didn't like it. Striker told him to forget it, they had their pilots and their freedom. Everything was good.
On his roaming time, Gipsy watched the ocean, allowing his warmth to cool in the breeze. How had he not noticed this before? He turned to where Striker stood, though he could not see him.
:Do you remember what I remember?:
Striker remained silent for a long time. :Yeah. Kaijus. Lots of water. A bomb, I think:
:Nuclear, like my reactor:
:That's nice. I don't care about your reactor: Striker lowered his head, musing to himself. :First time I lost a pilot, you know? Gonna miss him…:
Gipsy understood what Striker meant. He too had lost a pilot, back in Anchorage. An arm, too. But he liked his new replacement pilot, Mako. She and Raleigh fit so well together, so well with him…
:Do you like your new pilot?:
:You should. It would be good for you: Gipsy accessed his pilots memories, of comforting words and gestures. One in particular seemed to fit his needs.
He reached out and set a hand on his fellow Jaegers shoulder. Striker, at first, didn't understand it and therefore didn't respond until he, too, checked his database and shrugged off the offending appendage. Gipsy didn't know why.
:He's not perfect. No one is good enough…: At this point, Gipsy realized that they could feel. He could feel, Striker could feel. It felt so foreign.
"Hey, uh... Gipsy… Striker?" Whoever spoke obvious wasn't used to talking to giant robots. "Some, uh, people want to see you. So… you should return to the hangar…" The short man winced, as if fearing them, afraid they'd stomp on him for daring to give them orders. Gipsy just nodded. Another thing he'd conveniently picked up in the drift.
Without communicating to Striker, Gipsy turned and followed the tiny man back to the hangar, and wouldn't have sensed the men he was supposed to see until Raleigh waved him down. Men in fancy suits stood by, trying to look important. Gipsy didn't understand the word.
"And you are sure there is no pilot?" One of the men asked.
"No pilots but us are allowed near Gipsy, sir." Raleigh grinned. "We won't let 'em." From where she stood, Mako also smiled. Gipsy's pilots were his only pilots.
"I see… and how long ago was this?"
"A few days ago was when it was first noticed. They moved without a pilot guiding their actions." A tech this time. Gipsy didn't know how he knew. "The drift trial just proved it."
The man in the center of the group looked up into Gipsy's visor and held up a hand. The way he spoke bothered Gipsy, made him wary. "Is it intelligent enough to know which hand I'm holding up?"
Raleigh almost fell over in laughter, but luckily contained it and went with a funny look instead. "Sir, not trying to be rude or anything… but Gipsy's got no eyes and no mouth. He can't see you or respond to you."
The man glared, then sighed. "See to it that you do something about that, Ranger."
Raleigh and Mako looked up at Gipsy, who had stood motionless through the entire exchange. "Guess we should get you eyes, Gipsy."