What if?

What if it had been Raleigh's oxygen line that got cut during the final battle with Slattern, instead of Mako's?

-.-.-

"On my count, rear jets! Three… Two… One… NOW!"

Mako and Raleigh both toggled Gipsy's thrusters, and Mako let go of the bifurcated Kaiju carcass. Raleigh then guided the badly-damaged Jaeger on a collision course with Slattern as Mako's arm flashed up to grapple with the massive Category V. Then, they collided, and Mako deployed her Chain Sword to pin the Kaiju in place.

Raleigh continued the burn, driving the two massive warriors towards the Breach. "Hold on!"

Slattern was not happy about that… or being slammed through a black smoker chimney. He proceeded to lash out with his tails, slamming through hastily repaired armor panels at the small of Gipsy's back, tearing at her shoulders, finally landing a solid blow between Gipsy's "shoulder blades" and crushing vital life support systems.

-.-.-

Far away, in LOCCENT, an alarm that Tendo had never hoped to hear again went off. "Raleigh's oxygen is down. Half capacity!"

Herc stood by, helpless. "Can you reroute it?"

"I'm trying, sir!"

-.-.-

"Hold on, Mako."

"Heat shaft… purge."

"I'm gonna burn this son of a bitch."

Raleigh fought off the creeping darkness as the edge of his vision and activated the chest mounted turbine exhaust. The incredible heat blasted outwards, tearing through Slattern's chest cavity and finally killing the Kaiju. Just in time, as they fell into the Breach…

And transited it.

-.-.-

Tendo watched the two signatures disappear from the sensors. "They're in! They're in."

Newt let out a sigh of relief. "It worked."

-.-.-

Mako retracted the Chain Sword, as it was no longer needed. She looked over to Raleigh, who was fading fast.

"Oxygen main… right hemisphere. Critical levels."

Mako's glance flashed over to Raleigh's flank, where his air intake was. It was flashing red. No. Nonono. Not now.

"Operating at… 15% capacity."

Mako unhooked her own oxygen supply and reached over to Raleigh's side of the Motion Capture Rig.

"10 % capacity."

Mako unsnapped Raleigh's failed line.

"5% capacity."

-.-.-

Tendo's face paled as he saw the readouts change. "She giving him her oxygen."

-.-.-

Mako snapped her oxygen line into Raleigh's suit.

"It's okay now, Raleigh. We did it. I can finish this alone. All I have to do is fall." She smiled slightly as she touched his helmet. "And anyone can fall."

Tendo's distorted voice echoed in her helmet as she reached over and armed Raleigh's escape pod. Forgive me for this, Raleigh, but this is the path I chose so long ago… "Mako! Your oxygen levels are critical now. You don't have much time." She turned to watch as Raleigh was encapsulated in the escape pod. "Start the core meltdown and get out of there. Do you hear me? Get out of there now!"

As soon as Raleigh was fully encased in the pod, it ejected from the top of Gipsy through a series of armored hatches, and he hurtled clear of the doomed Jaeger towards the surface.

-.-.-

Tendo's face fell as he watched the readouts. "One pod is ejected. No detonation, sir."

Herc slammed his fist to the desk, before hearing Mako's voice filter through from another universe. "LOCCENT, if you can still hear me, I'm initiating manual override now!"

A beeping sound echoed in the background of the link, followed by a garbled message from the AI.

"What's going on?"

Tendo flew across the LOCCENT main panel in his chair. "Trigger's offline! She's going to have to do it by hand."

Newt's panicked voice came from behind Herc. "She's out of time. She has to self-destruct now!"

-.-.-

Mako unhooked from the harness, grateful for the automatic reconnection system she'd insisted on installing. Carefully, Mako worked around the edge of the Conn Pod, making her way to the back door where the manual trigger was located. She noticed the faint graying of the fringes of her vision as she burned through the last of the oxygen in the cockpit, but pushed on.

Then, the Jaeger tumbled, and Mako swore in Japanese as she fell, barely grabbing hold of the edge of the gyro shaft casing. With a feral snarl, she pulled herself off the edge and over to the trigger housing, which she heaved open. A small, detached portion of her brain realized that she ordinarily would not have been able to perform that task, but that the adrenaline had made it possible. She shook her head and went through the steps to trigger the self-destruct. "Shudō sōsa de kaishi. T - 60-byō de koamerutodaun!" Manual override initiated. Core meltdown in T-60 seconds!

Mako stumbled over to her side of the rig and strapped back in. "Reactor meltdown in… 55 seconds... 50 seconds."

Mako briefly blacked out, but fought her way back to consciousness. Wiping her helmet to clear away the water, she used the fuel purge to act as a thruster just like Raleigh had in the skies above Hong Kong, bringing the Jaeger to a halt eye to eye with… well, Mako wasn't quite sure what they were. But they were creeping her out, and they would soon be dead. How's it feel to have your world invaded by a giant war machine?

She noticed the time, swore again, and initiated her own ejection, rising into the ceiling of the Conn Pod on the armature of her MoCap Rig. Then, with a loud BANG, Mako's pod closed up, and was promptly kicked from the dying Jaeger. She watched through her small window as she tumbled upwards towards the Breach, and got one last good look at her Jaeger as it hovered there, ready to explode.

Then, just as she entered the Breach, there was an eye-searing flash from behind her pod, and Mako was slammed through the throat of the Breach. Then, the world went dark, and Mako couldn't fight it.

-.-.-

Raleigh regained consciousness about 30 seconds before the escape pod surfaced, giving him enough time to regain his bearings and begin to worry about Mako. Why would she eject me like that?

SPLOOSH.

Raleigh's pod broke the surface, and he actuated the releases, blowing the top cover off and opening the doors. He stood up, searching for the other pod that should be nearby…

SPLORSH.

Miracle of miracles, Mako's pod surfaced less than ten meters away. Then Raleigh noticed that it was badly scorched and battered. No… Not again. I can't lose another copilot. He dove into the ocean and swam over to the pod, which hadn't opened up yet. Come on, Mako! He pulled himself aboard, worrying the whole way. And still the canopy didn't pop off. So Raleigh hit the eject handle, and the cover blew off and into the water. He hauled Mako's helmet off and pitched it into the waves, then promptly began to search for a pulse. Nothing… NO! NOT AGAIN! "Come on, Mako! Wake up… Please wake up!"

No response, not even from LOCCENT.

Raleigh hauled Mako's limp body upright and hugged her tight, not wanting another dead copilot… wait… why do my ribs hurt like someone's crushing them? Raleigh eased off the pressure on Mako's ribs, and the pain in Raleigh's ribs eased as well.

Mako suddenly gasped, still desperate for air. "You were squeezing me too tight, Raleigh."

Raleigh laughed in delight as he hugged Mako close, just not as hard as before. "I thought I'd lost you there for a while."

In the distance, the slap of helicopter rotors signaled the arrival of their ride home, and the two Rangers embraced, happy to have survived.