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Chaos/Pacific Rim: The First Line of Defense (1/7)

December 29th, 2013 (02:14 pm)

feeling: annoyed

Notes and other parts in MASTER POST


“Hey, Martinez!” Redman calls at him from the doorway. “You coming?”

Rick looks up from his work. “Where to this time?”

“Bunch of us are going to make a weekend trip,” he says. “Up to San Francisco. We’ve still got room in Daly’s van, if you’re up for it.”

Rick makes a face, pretending like it’s a tempting offer. And it’s not that it doesn’t sound fun -- a weekend away with friends -- but… “I got a lot of studying to do,” he says, trying to sound apologetic.

“Rachel’s going to go,” Redman says, waggling an eyebrow salaciously.

That is a bit more tempting. Rachel Goodman is about the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He’s been working his way up to asking her out, when he can find the time.

But that’s the thing. There is no time. Not if Rick is going to graduate with a double major in linguistics and international affairs. Not to mention his minors in French, Russian and Italian. And he’s still got his job down at the local shooting range…

He shakes his head again. “Maybe next time.”

Redman shrugs. “Suit yourself, man.”

Rick chuckles and gets back to work.


There is no next time.

Rick’s studying when he hears the noise down the hall. There’s talking, and then an expletive.

“Hey!” Rick calls. “Can you keep it down?”

It’s not a few second later when someone swears again and then someone starts crying.

Annoyed, Rick gets to his feet. He puts up with a lot living in the dorms, but this is ridiculous. “Come on,” he says. “Some of us are trying to study….”

The words die in his throat, though, when he sees the television screen in the lounge on his floor. The picture is in high definition, and it shows what’s left of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the footage turns to the San Francisco skyline, there’s smoke and fire. There’s a burst of movement and then the feed stops.

The anchor appears, pale-faced and bumbling. “We, um, appear to have lost our feed,” he explains. “We’ll see about getting that back for you. For those of you just joining us, we seem to be witnessing a catastrophic event in the San Francisco Bay. There is no word yet on what the actual cause is, though we are getting conflicting reports about the possibility of a giant creature. There is also no official word on casualties, but as you can see, the damage is...extensive.”

Rick is still standing there, hours later when Oakland is decimated. He watches when Sacramento is ravaged. He sees the airwaves go still when the military finally drops a nuke and destroys everything.

He never sees Redman, Rachel, Daly or any of the rest of them again.


Rick’s always been conscientious -- he’s been positively anal about his studies. He never parties; he barely watches TV. He’s never had good friends because he’s always been so devoted to his work. He has to be. If he’s going to get into the CIA, he knows he need to be the best.

But when he sees the first footage of the beast -- the Kaiju, they’re calling it -- coming out of the Bay, everything changes.

Suddenly he doesn’t care about learning world language. Suddenly it doesn’t matter how international politics work. Suddenly it is unimportant how fast and straight he can fire a gun. Because Rick wants to be a hero.

But now the world is one where the monsters win.


The death toll is staggering. Tens of thousands. Entire cities -- gone. The entire West Coast has changed.

The entire world has changed.

Rick watches the list of survivors, but hope dwindles. The building where his brother works was one of the first ones hit. Eddie had always bragged about it, an office with a view of the bridge. “Good luck topping that, little brother.”

They never find a body, but his name goes on the memorial wall. Rick first visits with his mother, just outside the decontamination zone. She cries, clutching Rick’s hand before she wails and falls to her knees. Rick might think she’s making a scene, but when he looks up and down the length of the makeshift monument, there are hundreds of people doing the same.

When they leave, his mother dabs her eyes and swallows. “Are you going back to school, then?”

Rick laughs. “What’s the point?”

His mother looks at him, eyes welling again. “This beast took one of my sons,” she says. “Do not let it take another.”

“But how am I supposed to go back to studying when Eddie’s gone? When my friends are gone? When San Francisco is gone?” he asks.

She smiles at him sadly. “What else do you think you can do? You are a smart, good boy, Rick. But there’s nothing else you can do.”


The hard part is, she’s right. Rick’s an undergrad. Top of his class, sure, and he hasn’t got the scientific background to be of any use. He can fire a gun, but somehow he doesn’t think a semi-automatic pistol is going to be much use against a Kaiju.

He goes back to his studies. He works harder, trains more intensely. Rick presses on.

The world mourns.

Things go back to normal.


Then Manila is attacked.

Cabo falls next.

This is just the start


Rick’s studies start to slip. He finds himself researching online, reading the latest theories and the newest technology. He studies everything he can from the Pan Pacific Defence Unit, and makes contacts on message boards. People are skeptical about the idea of giant robots, including Rick, but when he sees the first footage of a massive machine dismembering a Kaiju, Rick understands.

He doesn’t want to be a cop.

He doesn’t want to be a spy.

He wants to be a Jaeger pilot.


“Collins, what the hell sort of solution is that?” his instructor asks. “You didn’t follow any protocol whatsoever.”

“But I did accomplish the objective,” Billy points out with an earnest and very helpful nod.

The man is just short of apoplectic. “But we have protocol for a reason,” he says. “Did you listen to anything you’ve learned here?”

“Of course,” Billy says. “What was my score on the multiple choice?”

“95,” the man reports begrudgingly. “But knowledge without application is nothing.”

“And that’s the point,” Billy says. “Look, I know I can do this job. I was born to do this job. And I’ll do anything it takes, even breaking the rules, to do the job as well as I possibly can. Neither hell nor high water will keep me from that. And that’s a promise, sir.”

The man collects a breath and lets it out. “Your other instructors believe that,” he grumbles. He holds out a folder, looking positively put out. “Welcome to MI6.”


It’s nothing short of a dream come true. Sure, Billy changed his mind a few times. He’d wanted to be a footballer in his youth, but he’d given that up when he realized how much physical exertion was actually required. He’d contended on being a poet in college, but apparently his love of poetry didn’t quite match up with his skill. Then he’d tried literature, language, political science and a brief stint in divinity.

Then he got recruited to train for MI6.

And he’d never looked back. Most of the other recruits talked about backup plans and what-if scenarios. For Billy, there is no backup plan. He’s going to be a spy. Bloody James Bond. He’s going to serve his country, he’s going to go up against the worst folk in the world, and he’s going to look awesome doing it.

This is what he wants.

Without a doubt. Neither hell nor high water.

And then he sees the Kaiju.


He’s celebrating, taking himself to a pub on the way home and buying everyone there a beer. He doesn’t have any friends there, per se, but that’s never been a problem for Billy. After the second round, they’re all his friends and he’s leading a rousing chorus of Wonderwall when something on the TV catches his eye.

With the ruckus, it’s been turned down. At first, he thinks it’s a bad disaster flick with the smoking buildings and ruined bridge. But then he sees the channel -- news.

Frowning, he moves toward the corner and turns it up, even while the crowd starts in on the next verse.

“The apparent attack on American soil is unprecedented and there is no indication of who or why might have staged such an event,” the announcer is saying. “However, the early reports suggest that the death toll will easily top the September 11th attacks, making this a dark day for the world, indeed.”

It’s not hell and it’s not high water.

But Billy starts to wonder if MI6 is really what he wants after all.


Now that he’s been formally accepted, Billy’s training steps up a notch. There’s not much time to think, even though there’s plenty to think about. In the intelligence community, Billy hears things the newscast leave out. Things about the fallout, not just from the blast, but the Kaiju blood. He hears about the way conventional warfare is completely useless.

About how the attack on San Francisco may not be an isolated event.

He hears stories about some of the pilots who helped with the attack. He sneaks in on briefings whenever he can. It’s not his jurisdiction, but Billy’s drawn like a moth to a flame.

People are scared of the Kaiju -- even the tough bastards at MI6.

That just makes Billy want it more.


When another Kaiju decimates Manila, Billy volunteers to help in any way he can. He brings coffee to the briefing, makes copies just to steal glimpses. At the first mention of the Pan Pacific Defense Unit, Billy volunteers.

“You’re not even out of nappies, lad,” he’s told.

Other agents are sent, though, along with the best personnel from the RAF. Billy knows this means he has a chance.


Billy’s never been a particularly dedicated student, but he can do anything when he decides he wants to. The problem with school was that he never cared enough. Even in his MI6 training, he’d been hit or miss.

But now, his focus is singular.

He shows up to work early; he’s the last one to leave. He studies, he trains, he learns. He studies outside of the MI6 workspace, reads up on the science and the politics. He learns the intricacy of the PPDC, and he makes friends with as many people as he can.

Because if Billy’s going to be a hero, he’s not going to be one here. He’s not going to be one with MI6.

He’s going to be one there.


The third Kaiju takes Cabo, and Billy puts in a formal request.

It comes back denied, and he’s assigned surveillance work instead. When the first Jaeger is debuted, Billy is awed, and he puts in his request again.

When he’s denied again, most people would take that as a sign.

Billy just takes it as incentive -- and he works harder still.


He knows the specifications of the Jaegers. He knows how they work. He learns about the neural pathways, and the massive support system in place to let them function. It’s a hard-fought operation, but it works.

The Kaiju falls and the Jaeger is still standing.

It works.


Billy studies the Kaiju, too. He knows their names and their personalities. They’re sadistic bastards, but they’re damn impressive. Sometimes he thinks, if he could just see one in action.

He’d marvel just for a second.

Then he’d blast its bloody brains out and come home a hero.

This is a school boy’s fantasy, but Billy does like his dreams.


Funds are shifted, and most of Billy’s classmates are laid off due to budget cuts. Billy is finally offered a field position in Beirut, a posting he would have coveted a year ago.

Instead, he shakes his head. “I don’t want Beirut.”

“It’s an enviable post,” he’s told. “The very best we’re offering anyone in your class.”

“Give it to them, then,” Billy says.

“And what are we supposed to do with you, then?”

And Billy’s eyes light up.


This time, the transfer is approved. MI6 can’t afford to keep its recruits anymore anyway, and this seems like an easy fix to keep as many people employed as possible.

Really, Billy thinks maybe they’re just tired of hearing him ask. And seeing him sneak into briefings. And trying to confiscate all the classified material from his desk drawers.

Either way, Billy gets what he wants.

Because he’s going to save the world.


Fay mumbles sleepily in the bed, rolling close to him. “Don’t do it,” she murmurs.


Fay snuggles against him, draping an arm over his chest. “Michael, it’s Saturday.”

“National security doesn’t take days off,” he tells her, stroking her wild curls gently.

“Mmm,” she hums. “That’s why we hired weekend analysts. There’s always someone monitoring every source imaginable. They’ll call you if they need you.”

“Those are low level analysts,” Michael says.

“With supervisors.”

“Who I don’t trust.”

Fay scrunches up her face. “That’s because you don’t trust anyone.”

“I trust you,” he says.

She opens her eyes, tilting her head up to look at him. “Then trust me and stay in bed.”


Fay groans, flopping back to her side of the bed. “You’re impossible.”

Michael sits up, grinning. “You love me.”

She chews her lip. “What if I said we could…”

Michael raises his eyebrows. “Really?”

She shrugs provocatively. “I know it’s not as interesting as news feeds--”

He moves back toward her, pressing his lips to hers and running his hands down the curves of her body. “Maybe it can wait,” he says. “Just this once.”


It turns out, it can’t.

When Michael finally gets out of the bedroom and turns on the news, the report is already there. Just one glimpse, and Michael knows this is bad.

He picks up his phone and starts making calls.


By the time Fay gets out of bed, Michael has three different contacts on hold from up and down the West Coast. He has a source from just outside of San Francisco and another asset in a military unit responding to the event.

“What happened?” Fay asks, brow creased as she looks at the screen.

Michael glances at her. “You want the long or short of it?”

“Short for now,” she says, sitting on the chair next to Michael’s.

“Basically, we’re looking at a major security breach off the West Coast,” he says, clicking open an email.

“Terrorism?” Fay asks.

“Only if al-Qaeda has figured out how to make Godzilla while we weren’t looking.”

“Wait,” Fay says. “You’re saying…”

“Yeah,” Michael confirms. “A giant lizard came out of the ocean and destroyed San Francisco.”

“What about our tactical response?”

“Worthless,” he says. “The thing’s in Oakland already.”


“But nothing,” Michael says. “This time we’re fighting the beast--”

He looks at the screen, shaking his head.

“--and the son of a bitch is winning.”


Fay makes him eat something, but she doesn’t stop him when he says he’s going into the office. In fact, she joins him and when they get there, everyone is on hand. It’s all hands on deck, and the CIA is following every lead as they try to figure out what this is and why they didn’t see it coming.

There are some who seem to think it is terrorism. Others are speculating that it’s a Chinese science experiment that got loose. There’s some chatter about naturally occurring elements and the unexpected side effects of climate change. A few have started to bring up the possibility of alien life.

None of them know how to stop it.


Six days. Michael doesn’t eat; he doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t go home, and he doesn’t shower. He barely looks at Fay when she checks on him, and his phone doesn’t stop ringing.

In the office, Simms chews his nails and shakes his head. “It’s the damn apocalypse,” he mutters. “And what do they think we’re going to do?”

Ray walks by, smacking him with a file. “Our jobs,” he says. “Things don’t just appear out of the bottom of the ocean.”

“We didn’t have a single piece of intel that predicted this,” Simms says. “We miss stuff, but not like this. Even on 9/11, we knew crap was up.”

“Never thought terrorists on airplanes would look so appealing,” Ray sighs.

Michael squints, trying to will his eyes to focus. He runs a hand through his greasy hair. “It’s not about what we missed,” he says. “It’s what we’re missing now.”

“Oh, and what’s that, if I may ask?” Ray asks.

Michael gets up, moving to the map of California he has plastered on the wall. He circles San Francisco. “We have a starting point,” he says. He draws the rough path to Oakland and then through the cities toward Sacramento.”

“Yeah?” Simms asks.

“So, there’s no end point,” he says. “And the thing isn’t take a clear path. If it’s a creature, right? It’s just got instinct. So why leave the water? It’s following highways.

Ray’s brow creases. “Make your point, kid.”

“My point is,” Michael says. “It’s looking to maximize damage. It’s going for major cities. This thing isn’t some science experiment. It’s not a side effect of global warming. It’s intelligent.”

“That’s speculation,” Ray says. “We need actionable intelligence.”

“No,” Michael says, stepping back to look at the map of a whole. “We need to stop the damn thing.” He sees Sacramento and follows the line across every major city all the way to D.C. “At all costs.”


Michael agrees with the military’s decision. A nuke’s the only option. With enough time, the area’s cleared out anyway. The damage will be considerable, but the alternative…

Well, there is no alternative.

Still, when they hear the reports. When the first bomb falls and the thing roars. When the second comes and it rears back and takes the plane with it.

It’s the third that does it in, destroying the Kaiju. And just about everything else.

It’s lauded as a victory; an end.

Michael knows it’s anything but.


People slowly get back to work. Missions go out again. There’s still terrorism and unstable countries and plots against US interest.

Michael can’t stop looking at the intel, though. He follows his feeds, and picks up a bunch of new ones. He starts staying up at night, tracking everything related to the Kaiju he can find.

“It’s time to move on,” Ray says. “We have a job to do.”

Michael knows. Better than anyone else, he knows.


After the second attack, Michael stops sleeping. He stays up the nights, and takes over the spare bedroom, taping information and pictures all over the walls.

He has to figure out where and how. He needs to figure out why.

He needs to stop it.


A third attack, and his work is suffering. Fay grows weary.

“They have divisions for this, Michael,” she tells him. “Entire governmental departments.”

But it’s not enough. They’re not good enough.

“I swear to God, Michael,” she says. “You should have married a damn Kaiju.”

She storms out.

It’s the next morning before Michael realizes he hasn’t come back.


“Kid, I need you to focus,” Ray says. “We’re spies.”

Michael barely listens. Like terrorism matters when Sydney is destroyed.


When there’s chatter about the PPDC, Michael wants in.

“Put me in there,” he insists.

His boss raises his eyebrows. “We have no jurisdiction--”

“Put me in there,” Michael says again, vehemently now.

“It’s a program that doesn’t even officially exist now.”

“That’s not your job,” is the comeback.

“No,” Michael says. “But it should be.”


He can’t focus. On a mission to Kuwait, he almost gets his whole damn team killed. Afterward, he’s called in to debrief.

“This is the last time we’ll be having this conversation, Operative Dorset.”

Michael braces himself, ready with a defense.

His boss holds up his hand. “Let me finish,” he says. “This is the last time we’ll be having this conversation because your paperwork just came through.” He pushes a file across the table. “As of next week, you’ll be officially assigned to the PPDC, operating out of Los Angeles.”


At home, he tells Fay. He expects her to rail, but instead, she sighs. “It’s the only thing that’s going to keep you sane,” she says.

He falters, looking at her again. She’s so damn beautiful, it hurts. She’s too good for this. Hell, she’s always been too good for him.

“Come on,” she says gently. “I’ll help you pack.”


Casey has the best damn job in the world.

He’s a spy, assigned to deep cover missions. His living quarters are never very good and the pay sucks, but he does get paid and his job is essentially to lie, cheat and hurt people. Casey can’t imagine anything better.

He’s working a long term gig in China, which is good because he does like Chinese food. Sure, Chinese mobsters are sort of a pain in the ass, but nothing he can’t handle.

And there’s Linda…

Beautiful, dangerous, and very good between the sheets. Or on the floor. Or the couch. Hell, even the coffee table, the bathtub, the kitchen counter and once the balcony overlooking the seedy alley behind their CIA-rented apartment.

Life is pretty perfect.

Until Linda turns on the TV one morning. She swears. “Did you see this?”

Casey doesn’t look up from his laptop. “If this is some attempt to get me to watch bad Chinese game shows, then yes,” he says.

“No, this is serious,” she says. She swears again, and her voice sounds uncharacteristically hollow and weak. Emotional.

Linda is many things, but emotional she is not. If she was, Casey wouldn’t have the patience for whatever it is they’re doing with each other.

Curious now, he gets up, making his way toward the living area. “You know you can’t trust Chinese news,” he starts to lecture, but then he stops, too.

Because the Golden Gate Bridge is gone. The headline on the screen reads Attack on America.

“Well,” Casey says, a matter of fact. “I guess this changes things.”


Casey spends the next few hours on a secure line with the CIA. He can’t talk to anybody who knows anything, but he talks to enough people to know that his job is to stay put. To keep doing his job. They’ll let him know if he needs anything.

When he gets off, he’s tired and grumpy. Linda is still staring at the TV.

“It still hasn’t stopped,” she says.

“I don’t suppose the useless media in this country has provided any idea of what it is,” Casey says, starting to pace.

“Some of them are saying it’s Godzilla,” Linda says.

“We wish,” Casey mutters. “And I suppose they think it’s a just punishment for our attempts to interfere with the rest of the world.”

Linda shakes her head. “Does it matter?”

Casey looks at the screen. “No,” he says. “Probably not.”


After another few hours, Casey can’t take it. Linda won’t turn off the damn TV, but Casey’s going stir crazy. He gets up and grabs his coat.

“Where are you going?” she asks with sudden concern.

“I have a meet with our asset,” he says.

“But look what’s happening,” she says, pointing at the TV.

“I know,” he says. “But that’s in San Francisco. We’re in China. We still have a mission.”

“Casey, people are dying,” Linda starts.

“They’re dying everywhere,” Casey says with a sigh. “There’s probably little kids a few streets down dying of malnutrition but we’re not watching that in slow motion now, are we?”

Linda gives him a look.

“Look,” Casey says. “I can’t help them in San Francisco. But I can help out here. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

Linda says nothing as Casey walks out the door.


The meet goes well. His asset is impressed he showed.

“Your homeland,” the man says in stunted English. “It is bad, yes?”

“I find national loyalty tiresome when taken to extremes,” Casey replies. “Now, are we going to do this?”


Linda doesn’t leave the motel for a week. Casey handles his duties and hers, and he tries to make contact with his handlers, but apparently the priorities at the Agency have shifted. He can barely get a verbal confirmation of anything.

Worse still, all his intelligence channels are clogged with news about the attack. There’s reports about the creatures; delineations of how it was finally defeated. There’s discussion of where it came from and why it came. And that’s all well and good -- but it doesn’t mean much to Casey.

He doesn’t like that some giant beast came out of the sea to kill people, but it’s not his fault either. He can’t do anything about it. But he’s a spy. That’s his job.

Everything else in the world can change, but that’s always going to be the same.


After a few weeks, Linda starts up on her part of the mission again. Things go back to normal.

Until another Kaiju -- that’s what they’re calling them now -- comes out of the sea and destroys Manila.

And takes Casey’s career right with it.


In the aftermath of Manila, Casey’s funding gets cut. Resources are being reallocated; personnel are being diverted. It’s Linda who gets the call.

“They want me on the ground in Mexico,” she says. “There’s a lot of chatter from there about the attacks being some widespread effort against the Pacific Rim.”

“It’s a wild goose chase,” Casey says.

“It’s a job, Casey,” she responds. She shrugs. “An important one. Probably the most important one. We have to know why this is happening. We have to be prepared.”

“But we have a job,” Casey protests.

She takes his hand and squeezes it. “You said it yourself,” she says. “This changes things.”


And not for the better. Linda leaves. When Casey makes his bust, he proudly opens up the crates before he makes a face. It’s not drugs. It’s not guns.

He picks up a piece of leathery skin. “Kaiju parts?” he asks in total disgust. “That’s what I’m doing now? Busting Kaiju-smuggling?”

As if things couldn’t get any worse.


Then they do. The third Kaiju attacks Cabo.

A month later, they add Linda’s star to the wall.


There’s no intelligence outside the Kaiju anymore. World tensions are at an all time low. Even the mobsters have stopped killing.

Casey has nothing to do.

For the first time in his adult life, he hates his job.

When the Pan Pacific Defense Corp starts looking for people to fight the Kaiju, Casey resigns from his post and volunteers.

“The program is still in its early stages,” he’s told. “And this isn’t your typical warfare.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Casey says. “You’re going to build giant robots and have people create a neural interface to pilot the things. I get it.”

“Our tests are still very preliminary.”

“Fine,” Casey says. “It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do.”

“It’s dangerous,” he’s warned. “The physical toll and then the Kaiju--”

“Look,” Casey says. “You have my file. I’ve taken your tests. Am I qualified for this job or not?”

“Of course,” is the reply. “We just want to make sure you understand…”

“That this is the most dangerous job in the world? That it requires mental stamina and physical perfection? That pilots can hold no fear and must be willing to accept that even the slightest mistake will be their death?” Casey ask. “Yeah. I get it. And that’s why I’m here.”

“Okay, then. Welcome to the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, Mr. Malick.”