A test short story introducing the pilots of my upcoming Jaeger, Prime Meridian.
Blake had always loved listening to the drum of rain on the windows during a storm. Wind brought it down in tides that ebbed and flowed on a whim, sometimes relenting, and sometimes driving curtains of heavy droplets into those glass panes in a deafening roar of constant taps. But the rain and thunder and lightning flashes had never scared him. In fact, the louder a storm was, the more Marcos enjoyed it, for he took comfort in thinking no matter how hard the rain pounded, he was safe and warm inside. It was the same way his Conn Pod made him feel, even from the top of a 200-foot tall Jaeger in the middle of an ocean storm.
Outside of the colossal fighting machine’s reinforced visor, dark clouds had filled the air with almost as much water as the turbulent sea below. Thick sheets of rain cast the horizon gray above a boiling sea murky with sand swept from the ocean floor by wild currents. The only breaks in this grim expanse were the white crests of waves as mountains of water crashed against the Jaeger’s armor-plated belly.
But within, there was no roar of waves, and Blake couldn’t even hear the rain he saw pelt and sluice off the Conn Pod’s wide viewport in tiny streams. Between him and the storm were layers of glass, titanium, steel, and bright holographic displays that constantly updated with feedback about the Jaeger’s status. Sporadic beeps interrupted the hum of the readouts, coming from his co-pilot’s gloved hand as she tapped in a series of commands. Turning his attention to his own controls, Blake swiped his finger through a blinking hologram to answer the hail coming from their overseers at LOCCENT, back in the Shatterdome in Panama City.
“Control, this is Ranger Merino. Prime Meridian is ready and waiting.”
A moment later, a man’s voice answered him through the static interference caused by the storm. “Prime Meridian, we copy. Pacific Tracking Network has confirmed Kaiju contact inbound on your location. Outline is very large, possible Cat-Four. You sure you’re up to this on your own?”
Blake glanced over to his co-pilot, Kaalyn Daniels, and found she hadn’t seemed to react at all to the news. Steeling himself to match her calm composure, Blake answered, “Not a doubt in my mind. Meridian out.”
A moment after he’d terminated the com channel, the dark-skinned young woman looked over to him and flashed a grin. “Well that was a lie.” Blake didn’t bother denying it. He was connected to Kaalyn through the Pons System by a mental link; she sensed everything he did at the very same moment. He couldn’t censor anything, and though it could sometimes be embarrassing for them both, it was the only way to achieve perfect synchronization. The link went both ways, of course; she hadn’t even needed to speak to chide him for the lie, only thought it and Blake got the message. With the mental equivalent to rolling his eyes, he focused back on the tasks before him.
Layers of information were stacked on top of one another. Readouts in his Heads-Up Display overlaid the diagram of the Prime Meridian being projected in front of him, the window beyond that where soon he’s be staring down a monstrous Kaiju, not to mention the gauntlet and myriad other displays all around him. But drifting with his partner’s mind made it easier. Their ability to process information wasn’t just doubled, it was squared, able to shunt data back and forth. They saw everything clearly, and understood it.
Neither of them was sure who it was that heard the earpiece buzz in Blake’s ear as LOCCENT called them back. “Kaiju on final approach. Prime Meridian, weapons free.”
Kaalyn’s mind issued a command, and both of their bodies braced, hunching forward as if leaning into the wind. Armatures attached to their arms and legs tracked the movement, and the giant Jaeger leaned just as they did. It was nothing like pressing down on the gas pedal of a car. The metal titan didn’t just respond to their movements, it was a part of them. It shared feedback with them in the same way they did with one another, as more than an armored shell. They were just another part of it, and at the same time the neural link grasped and made itself a part of them.
Three, not two pairs of eyes, spotted a towering fin split the waves and rise from the water a hundred meters out, cutting through the waves in a straight line as it homed in on the Jaeger with single-minded intent. Prime Meridian focused likewise, anger building as the thought of this ugly beast killing human beings entered its dual minds. With its fists clenched, the Prime Meridian and its pilots launched forward into the surf ready to meet their opponent in the eye of the storm.