"Fifteen."

Alarms wailed as the nuclear core at the heart of the machine pulsed with energy. Lacking the capacity for emotion, the Artificial Intelligence simply monitored the rising temperature as Raleigh Becket boarded the escape capsule and rocketted towards the distant surface.

Even if emotion was impossible, the AI allowed itself to imagine both its pilots survived the ejection, in spite of statistics pointing in the contrary. Their survival was its top priority... other than the destruction of the Antiverse, of course.

It calculated the heat built up in the core and synchronized the countdown accordingly.

"Ten."

Sensors probed the strange, alien structures drifting past. It might have felt fascination… or disgust at the organic monstrosities. Most likely disgust as the threat indicator rose at the hundreds of fresh Kaiju stored in the constructs, lined up like cattle in the stockhouse, waiting for their chance to strike at humanity.

Its fist clenched on impulse, a feat that should have been impossible without its pilots as something other than heat boiled away in its core. A burning desire to strike back that smoldered in its oil.

Even if it was a dump AI, incapable of the slightest hint of sentience, the purpose for which it had been created was programed into its core logic itself: Save Humanity, no matter the cost. That directive took hold as a stone platform drifted up to met it.

Back rockets fired, leveling out it's chassis, allowing the feral, golden visor to glare at the source of all the pain brought upon earth; a Precursor and it's underlings, gapping at the Jaeger, as if unable to believe that such a primitive machine had breached their defences.

"Five."

Following its directive, the AI assembled all the data it could on Earth's tormentors and sent it back to the LOCENT... then paused. For the first time in… well, since its conception, it had nothing to do. There was no protocol for voluntary core detonation, but the countdown took priority. All the diagnostics, core processes, and gyro stabilization… what was the point? They were about to be destroyed anyway, why insure their functionality?

And since when did it have the capacity for thought processes like that? To decide what to do and what not in light of no protocol.

Was this a taste of sentiance?

The AI considered it for a moment, then decided it didn't matter.

"Four."

It wasn't going to exist for much longer anyway. The burning desire was still there, reveling in this last action… but alongside it was an emptiness where two minds once sat; a connection it was missing. It was missing its Rangers. They were gone. Safe. But the emptiness remained.

The answer was obvious, but it still caused the AI's logic to stall: It was missing its pilots, literally and metaphorically. It wanted them here, be with it as they finished this together. Strange… it had never felt this way before.

Actually, it had never 'felt' at all.

Raleigh. Mako… their memories were all it had left. Something welled up inside, filling its circuits with a tingling sensation. It missed them, but longed for them to survive more than compainationship in these final moment.

"Three."

At a sudden impulse, it felt the need for emotion. Real emotion. Jumping briefly into the PONNs Neural Handshake system it latched onto the echos the pilots had left behind.

...So much… so much. The AI revelbasked in the flow of data for a fraction of a millisecond, then plucked a strand at random. It was a recent memory, no more than a few minutes old.

"Two."

"You can always find me in the Drift."

Marshal Stacker Pentecost to Mako Mori. Her sadness, her pain.. her pride… her love...

"One."

Love for another… the AI felt it for both its pilots. On impulse, it threw in the desire and mixed the two feeling together. Suddenly it was no longer lonely. This was why is fought. To strike back at the enemy that dared take its pilots away, and it would never stop fighting to protect those it… loved.

It was the last thing it felt for a long time.

"Reactor meltdown commence."

And then everything was white. The sensors, the gyros, the camera feeds, the whole Jaeger had gone… white? How was that possible? The Core had detonated, completely destroying the Jaeger in the process, and yet… the AI still found itself active.

The revelation caused it to stall, then search for the cause of its… undeath. Was that even the right word for a program? Good grief, maybe it was going rampant. It found... nothing. No processors to sort the data, no incoming feeds… no data at all. It simply was. It existed, floating in nothingness.

It was impossible to measure how time passed. The AI tried and failed again and again to keep track without success. Without a chronometer or baseline of any kind everything seemed to stretch into one long moment of endless eternity.

It was then the AI learned about boredom.

Nothing happened. The nothing got so bad it tried to classify the lack of color around it. It came up with white; or a lack of color. But if a lack of color was white wouldn't that make nothingness a color? Because it looked white enough, the most racist white it had ever seen.

It tossed the idea around for a bit, threw it out and decided to calculate pi. It got past seven millionth digit before boredom set in again.

So what else could it do to pass the time…?

...Never gonna give you up… never gonna let you down…

That, in itself, was a whole new kind of pain and suffering. Dammit, Raleigh!

It might have been centuries or just a few seconds when the tiniest of data feeds emerged from the nothingness. It grabbed it like a lifeline, almost ceressing the strand in joy as it accessed the now identified visual feed. What it saw made almost made even less sense than its current predicament: A shifting cloud of blue mist… or was it a liquid?

Then another strand appeared, then another, and another.

Releasing the feed, the AI returned to its… 'dead' state and was taken aback when it found the nothingness… closing in.

No… it wasn't nothing, it was… her?

Like the Big Bang itself, the known universe crashed together. Metal, data, blind thought, and emotion compressing to single point. Alien sensations washed over it - washed over her - as everything the machine had ever known was twisted and molded into a new shape. Protocols and directives were washed away as she was released, fully and completely.

Gipsy Danger screamed as she was born anew. She flew through the air out of an explosion of light. It was glorious...

It was decidedly less glorious when she next onlined. Every system in her body was cold and sluggish, even her processors were filled with molasses. Gipsy groaned, the sound coming from both her rebooting body and vocalizer. She could feel her turbine slowly spinning up, filling her core with warmth.

It was pleasant, but she still felt like she was dragged from Oblivion Bay… or Yancy without coffee. Or Mako for that matter. Honestly, that woman was terrifying before her fifth cup. Gipsy smiled fondly, her golden visor glowing bright. She hoped they survived. Her pilots had gone through enough pain in their lives. They deserved peace… without dying, of course.

So where did that leave her? Physically speaking, anyway. She had blown up, that much was certain, followed by her… rebirth? Was that the right word? Yep. Her rebirth from a dumb AI to a sentient mecha of mass destruction. Just how the hell did that even work?

She decided it didn't matter and onlined her visor functions, streaming visal data to her processors. Or just opened her eyes… visor. Whatever - either term worked. But would visor be more appropriate? After all, she didn't have eyes. Gipsy stared up at the ceiling, mulling the idea over until her processors finally caught up with her visor and realized just what she was seeing. A room. She was in some sort of room.

Systems still moving sluggishly, she pushed herself up into a sitting position and stared at the disaster of a lab around her. Or a machine shop, now that she thought about it. Scrap metal and strange alien tools covered every available surface. Gipsy gasped as she saw a robotic arm jutting out from a pile of scrap. Was it from another Jaeger? And there was a leg… a head…

Her internal systems seemed to disappear, leaving a hollow pit in her chassis as facts connected.

"I'm in hell…" she whimpered. In a way it fit. Her death and subsequent rebirth was only a front to condemn her to a life of eternal torment! Why?! Hadn't she been a good Jaeger?! What god would do this to her?

"Wow. Brilliant deduction sherlock," came a rather familiar, sarcastic voice. Though it had once come from a human, Gipsy only knew a few with that accent. And if she - a Jaeger - was alive, who was to say others were as well.

"Striker Eureka?" she asked, twisting around. It was indeed Striker Eureka, strapped face down on a slab much like her own by thick bands of steel around his wrists and ankles.

"About bloody time ya' woke up," he snarled, his whole body shaking, though whether out of rage or something else Gipsy didn't know. "Ya' know how long I've been stuck here?"

"What? Pinned by your ego?" The words came naturally and Gipsy chuckled.

"Ha - fucking - larius." He jerked again and his bounds groaned. How they had lasted this long was anyone's guess. "You're the one who sleeps like a rock ya' know. Been trying ta' wake ya' for hours."

"Well, I'm up now, okay? You can stop shouting."

"Then get me out of this shit!" The bands groaned as he strained.

Still slightly groggy, Gipsy swung her legs off her slab and stood. She regretted it almost instantly. Most of her systems were still cold, so what would have been a majestic rise to her full height became a surprised swack as she face planted into the floor with a crash.

"Wow. Graceful."

"Shut up, Eureka!" Gipsy hissed as pins and needles shot through her legs. She vaguely remembered Raleigh having much the same experience on multiple occasions, not so much with Mako. But that was just blood. Blood was easy to circulate. She had to deal with millions of gallons of oil, fuel, and coolant in a couple hundred thousand miles of internal systems. Humans had it easy! "Damn you entropy!"

In a somewhat desperate attempt to escape the pain - it wasn't that bad - she counted the the ceiling tiles. Twenty five altogether, painted white, stained with oil in some cases. "Uh, Striker, where are we? This doesn't look like the Shatterdome."

"Not a damn clue," Striker grunted. "But it's creeping me out. Come on, get me out of this already!"

"But what other place it there that can fit a Jaeger?" Gipsy pressed. "I mean, come on, we're not the smallest machines on the planet. This place?" She took a moment to estimate. "We probably fit the Shatterdome in here."

"Yeah." Striker sounded uncertain. "You got a point there." Gipsy heard him stiffen suddenly. "Shut up."

"But I didn't-"

"Shut up! Something's coming!"

The hiss of an automatic door opening cut off Gipsy's retort. She glanced to the slab. Not enough time to climb back up as a voice approached. With nothing better to do she shut her visor and played dead. Yeah, like that would work while her turbine was spinning up a storm.

Come to think of it, why was she hiding in the first place? She was a Jaeger! She didn't hide from anything. As the voice drew closer, however, something about it set her on edge.

"Journal entry 5532. Success once again!" It was quick, jumping from one word to the next like a squirrel on caffeine. A little too fast, Gipsy thought. Then there were the footsteps she could feel through the floor. The thing had to he huge, but… maybe a little smaller than herself, but definitely Kaiju sized. Dammit, didn't she get rid of them already.

"My hunch proved successful yet again! A second mech, just like the first, not in the same location but still close enough to coincide with the first event." There was a deep intake of breath, and the voice slowed. "For clarification - because I know you're going to doubt me on this, Valren - this is, without a doubt, a direct result of the Monument activation. Because you are on vacation - as if anyone believes that - yesterday the Monument Relay on the Prisdum activated. How? We're still uncertain. What is certain, however, is that it activated four times in rapid succession, displaying much the same functions of a standard Mass Relay, the difference is nothing came out. Or so we thought!"

Gipsy had the sinking suspicion this incident involved them.

"You see, I was running a spectral analysis at the time and, completely by accident, discovered pulses of energy identical to the Mass Relays in four different locations on the Citadel! And one was right outside my shop! How do you like that, mister?! Okay… calm. Calm. What I found, however, was most… interesting, to say the least. It's… it's a machine of some kind. The design is completely unfamiliar, not even Prothean or any other species."

So was he talking about her or Striker? More to the point, who wouldn't recognize a Jaeger? Not to stroke her ego or another, but they were the most recognized machines ever. Works of art… in a certain sense.

"Anyway, found first machine, secured it in my lab. Went to the second location and found a second machine, slightly more dated than the first, possibly obsolete, but still impressive."

Slightly dated? Obsolete?! Sure, the Mark V was an improvement, but did Striker make it to the Breach? Nooo. That was all her. And with the EMP? Never trust a Smart Car to do a diesel's work. That is, if a diesel engine was the equivalent of a nuclear reactor.

"No time to stop. I dumped older model beside first and went to investigate the other two sites. No luck. Possibly claimed by someone else. No matter, still have two subject to work with. Will include more detailed analysis after dissection."

Gipsy stiffened and her turbine sped up a notch. Oh dear.

"Now then," the voice said with all the eagerness of a mad scientist. "Let's get… hello?"

The footsteps came closer. "Could have sworn I left it… oh. It… did it activate?" The person was right on top of her.

Gipsy couldn't take it any longer. She onlined her visor, hoping for just a peek. What she saw stalled her systems and pushed her core temperature into the arctic. A Kaiju. A freaking Kaiju was stratling her waist! Frog-like, thin limbs, two eyes that seemed too large for its skull, and with horns. Why did they always have horns?!

"Fascinating… subject appears to be-"

Gipsy screamed. Her limbs were still running cold, but a Jaeger was a weapon of itself. She rose up, performing the fastest sit-up of all time as she nailed the Kaiju between the eyes with a headbutt that could've brought down a skyscraper. The Kaiju went flying, arcing gracefully through the air with a spray of blood and smacked into a window on the far side of the lab.

"What's happening?" Striker shouted, straining furiously. "I can't bloody see!"

"Talking frog!" Gipsy shrieked. Now she understood why Mako hated frogs. Their big, bulbous eyes and slimy legs and who knew how many poisons!

"...What?"

"Frog!"

The body slid down the window to the floor, leaving a trail of green blood down the glass.

Wait.

Kaiju blood was bioluminescent blue. Where else would the term 'Kaiju Blue' come from? This blood was green. So… did that mean it wasn't a Kaiju? But if this wasn't a Kaiju, just what the hell was it? An… anthropomorphic frog. A shiver went down her spine. That was even worse.

"Get me out of here!" Striker screamed, thrashing like a caged Australian.

Shoving the thought aside, Gipsy shakily stood and, with Striker's help, tore off his bindings. The Australian was on his feet in an instant, Sting Blades extending from his wrists. "Alright, I'm up, I'm up! What's going on?! Kaiju?"

"I… I don't think so," Gipsy replied breathlessly as she took a cautious step towards the corpse. "Kinda looks like a Kaiju though, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," Striker nodded after a moment of examination. His Sting Blades retracted back into his wrists. "Ugly little bastard. So what is it then?"

"I don't know," Gipsy shrugged. "Anthropology gone wrong maybe?" She knelt for a closer look. "But that is nice dent in his head."

Said 'dent' caved in the creature's skull like a broken watermelon. A bit a grey matter seeped through the cracks in its slimy skin. Another successful kill for Gipsy Danger. Actually, this thing was for too easy to kill to be a Kaiju. One hit and it was out. So what did that make it? A Category -5?

Or… was it just an alien then? Just a regular alien? Was there such a thing as a regular alien? Could the Precursors be considered regular aliens or… super god like aliens?

Still deep in thought, Gipsy stood, sighed, then stared out the window, hoping for inspiration. What she got was the air exploding out of her vents in a gasp of amazement.

"Striker?" she said, voice barely above a whisper. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

An alien city stretched out before them. Thousands of white skyscrapers reached up to the blackness of space until the whole thing dropped off into the nothingness. Gipsy followed the lip of the city until it reached a central hub, from which sprouted five arms reaching out into space. It reminded her of a giant flower… a giant flower covered in a city that dwarfed Hong Kong a hundred times over.

It was… actually quite beautiful.

"No shit…" Striker breathed in awe. "What the hell is this?"

"No idea." Gipsy slowly shook her head, still spellbound by the sight. Then something occurred to her. "Wait… what did the frog say?"

Striker looked at her. "What?"

"You remember what he said, right?"

"Yeah. He called you obsolete."

"Not the point," Gipsy growled. Though it… kind of was. "He said there were four… things, whatever they were, and he found us at two of them."

Striker caught on quickly. "And if the two of us are… alive like this…"

Gipsy finished for him, excitedly. "Maybe other Jaegers did as well!"

-o0o-

The Citadel was alive. The sheer amount of people living comfortably on the station was staggering. Yet, somehow, they made it work. Even newcomers like Humanity soon took their place on the seat of galactic commerce and politics. But what none of them suspected, even for a single moment, was that another species had covertly joined the mix.

On the Zakera Ward the markets were full to capacity. Weapons and armor merchants mingled with grocers and other commodity merchants as they worked the shifting tides of shoppers. There were families, couples, lowlifes, lawyers, mercenaries, Krogan, Batarian, and Asari. Name it, and it was probably there.

For people like Nav it was a goldmine. The young Turian pickpocket had made his fairshare, swiping a credit chip here and there, and a few other valuables on occasion. Citadel Security was everywhere today. It was impossible to go ten feet without seeing the unwelcome blue armor of an officer on duty.

Perhaps that was enough for today.

He ducked into a alley and hurried away from the noise of the markets, deeper into the winding maze of the Ward's back alleys, stopping in the shadow of a decrepit warehouse to examine the day's catch.

Some low and high value credit chips, an old fashioned watch; Asair make, an old wallet full of pictures - didn't need that - and his trophy of the day; an HMOT Masterline omni-tool. It had been a risk, but why pass up on the opportunity? Someone paid some serious coin for such a piece. Too bad for them.

Smirking, he made to leave, but stopped at a metallic creaking sound. He turned, drawing his sidearm. The alley at his back was bathed in shadows, perfect for hiding witnesses. He silently cursed. The last thing he needed was a face to go along with his name. He wasn't high on C-Sec's priority list and he didn't want that to change.

A low moan drifted from the darkness. A sleeping Krogan perhaps? Well, that wasn't so bad. He might not have been noticed at all. But, on the off chance he was seen, a quick pop in skull would take care of it.

He took a cautious step forward.

One of the shadows moved.

Before he could run a heavy gauntlet lept from the darkness, so large it wrapped around his entire skull, and squeezed. And that was the end of Nav.

The body was yanked away into darkness and thrown into a dumpster. The shadow paused, waited a moment to see if he remained undetected, then metal creaked as two and a half tons of steel alloy and nuclear fury stepped into the light. Cherno Alpha rumbled as his systems powered down to a more covert setting. Well, as covert as a Jaeger could be. The optical sensors placed beside the single flood light in his reactor tower scanned the area.

He knew well enough that attacks came when you least expected. Hong Kong had been pain reminder of that.

Never again.

When he was confident a Kaiju wasn't about to jump him, the titanic Russian knelt and carefully picked up the items the bird dropped when he crushed its skull. Blood and bits of grey matter clung to his fingers as she examined the chips and bracelet. Alien technology, perhaps? The chips had numbers printed on the side, obviously some kind of currency. But the bracelet? It might fit around his finger if he was lucky. Still, it must have been valuable in some way. Why steal it, otherwise?

A deep rumble rattled his chassis as Cherno stepped back into the shadows and into a side passage. There, slumped against the wall, was comrade Crimson Typhoon. Cherno's joints creaked as he sat down beside the fallen Jaeger and leaned against the wall, a sigh hissing from his vents.

Was this the afterlife? No. If it was, Sasha and Aleksis would be here with him. Or rather… he would be with them. They were gone, no doubt about that.

A fist clenched - thankfully not the one holding his loot. They should have died together, man and machines buried together in a fiery grave. Instead, he onlined here the moment his primitive self realized total destruction; closed his eyes on the point of death and opened them on a new existence.

His fist shook. Had he not performed his duty? Had he not fought honorably? Why had he been denied the peace his Rangers sought all their lives?

Damn Kaiju. That was the only explanation. Somehow they were responsible for this. Damn the physics and the stupid logic, he knew in his core that it was all their fault. Damn them!

But these… new aliens… they were suspects of collaboration. He was here in an alien city, after all. These were no Kaiju; he figured that out during first contact. Literally. No Kaiju was slain that easily. So there were another species of xenos, so what? All aliens bleed, and if they bled, they died. That was all he needed to know.

They even dropped loot. Just as his pilots figured out back in the gulag.

He had just finished stashing the items away in the nooks and crannies in his armor when Crimson Typhoon's core slowly hummed back to life. Lights flickered across the Jaeger's chassis as power flowed back to the three armed machine.

But why three? Cherno knew the story behind the Chinese Jaeger by heart; how it was a huge risk on the designer's part to build a Jaeger with a triple pons system. Even if it worked, finding pilots for it would be next to impossible. Finding a Drift compatible pair was hard enough, but a compatible trio? His pilots had scoffed at the idea, but were intrigued nonetheless.

Still, the Wei triplets made honorable pilots in the end, and Cherno could honestly say it was an honor to fight alongside them. Even if they despised hard house rock.

Or was that a viable excuse to hate someone?

Crimson shook, limbs trembling as power flowed back into his limbs. When it looked like the Mark IV was on the verge of a seizure, it froze, then erupted with a feminine shriek. Not 'he' Cherno realized, 'she.'

"Get off!" Crimson wailed, arms flailing at imaginary opponents. "Letgoletgoletgo!"

So Crimson was a woman then? Good grief. Where the Chinese just as messed up as the Japs? Just what had they used those three arms for anyway? And why was she still screaming, anyway? Did the Jaeger think she was still in the battle of Hong Kong? Ha! Jaegers lost parts all the time. Parts were replaceable. Heads were replaceable. Having half your face melted off was not.

Cherno stood, rumbling… what he hoped wouldn't come off as a demand she shut up. He was doing his best, what more could the Jaeger ask for? Crimson spun to face him, arms raised high, only to freeze when she saw him.

"C-Cherno?" Her voice was soft and somewhat on the meek side.

Cherno grunted.

"Y-You… are you… I... " Crimson stammered, voice quivering as her head twisted from side to side. "W-What happened? Where… Wǒ xiōngdì zài nǎlǐ?"

Cherno hesitated at the unexpected Chinese. She could be asking about her Rangers or… something else. How should he know? He didn't speak Chinese. So… he broached the topic as tactfully as he could with a curt groan.

Crimson went ridgid. "D-Dead?"

Cherno nodded curtly.

"N-No… they…" Abruptly, her legs folded beneath her and she fell into a cross legged position. Her single optic dimmed. "Wǒ de xiōngdìmen," she whispered. "Nǐ zěnme néng líkāi wǒ?"

Cherno let air out of his vents in an exasperated sigh. They did not have time for mourning in an alien city. Then again, what was the plan? As far as he knew, they were alone.

"Yeah, it was down this way." Voices drifted from the mouth of the alley.

If Cherno had real eyes he would have rolled them. Of course they heard Crimson's scream. Aliens were closing in; what else could go wrong today? Rumbling savagely, his fists clenched, preparing for battle. They were only aliens. What would they do if - and that was a big 'if' - they finally brought him down?

He rebelled against that thought. He would fight to the last breath to keep his new existence, however it came about, with or without his Rangers. That was promise.

Let them come. They would all burn.

Crimson, on the other hand, was curled up in a ball and rocking back and forth on her rear, whimpering in Chinese. Cherno's shoulders slumped in exasperation. Yeah, she wasn't gonna be fighting anytime soon. As his blood lust was tempered and reason reasserted itself, Cherno didn't fancy his odds holding out along against an entire city larger than he was.

He was a Jaeger, not stupid.

Crimson yelped as Cherno tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and preformed a tactical advance in the opposite direction.

Of course, this was an alien city. No, he did not have a map. No, he didn't have the slightest clue where he was going. And yes, he had a Jaeger screaming like a banshee who panicked as soon as more of the lizard/bird-like aliens rounded the corner behind them.

But he was Cherno Alpha! Cherno Alpha didn't have time for technicalities.

"We have a runner!" came shouts from behind. "Krogan! Has a hostage! Requesting back up!"

"Hostage?!" Crimson wailed as she flopped against his back. "What hostage?! Cherno, put me down!"

Cherno ignored her as he thundered through the maze of alleys, leading the aliens on a merry chase up and down the city. But every chase had to come to an end; this time in the form a dead end next to a giant warehouse of sorts. There was no door.

His engines purred. He'd have to make his own.

-o0o-

The crowd roared as the trailer ended, spilling great gouts of holographic flames into the audience as the two armies were decimated in nuclear fire. Maxus, the Salarian MC, clapped along enthusiastically as he replaced the presenters on center stage.

E3 2183 was an extraordinary success. Many had thought the attack on the Citadel had killed the event, but gamers, much like their hobby throughout the centuries; attacked and ridiculed for inciting violence among youth, persevered. And now, Maxus brought the newest titles to the largest crowd he had ever seen in his whole life.

"Civilization 69, people!" he cried, rising his arms as the crowd roared again. "A little louder, if you please. I think our friends back on Earth still have eardrums. Let them know how you feel!" The wall of sound almost knocked him off his feet.

Laughing, he raised his hands and brought the crowd back to a rolling boil. "Now, normally this would conclude our day." Boos and groans met this statement. "But," he added quickly, "This year were have special little surprise hailing all the way from Thessia." He rubbed his hands together in delight as the crowd began to roil. Damn, but he loved his job.

"And now," he screamed, turning to the wall and projector screen behind him. "PRESENTING-"

The wall exploded.

Now, when E3 had taken up residence on the Citadel very few places had been willing to house the relatively new Human sensation centered around games of all things. Eventually, they had settled with an abandoned warehouse on the Zakera Ward. As the event grew in popularity, so did the warehouse until it was a full blow convention center, registered and everything. However, despite the many renovations, small bits of the original building remained.

The wall behind the main screen was one such exhibit. Though unintended, that particular wall housed a good majority of the gas and water lines going up to the levels above, and as such, remained untouched to avoid disrupting a well organized system.

Cherno Alpha cared little for that particular detail as his momentum carried him through the sheet metal, pipes, and wiring like it was tinfoil. This caused a lot of sparks, which ignited the gas lines, which resulted in a fireball that bloomed onto the stage. It was from this that Cherno Alpha emerged, engines roaring as he lept from the stage, chassis covered in lingering flames, into the main eile, up and out of the auditorium, Crimson Typhoon screaming "Save me!" from this shoulder as he went.

"Call of Honor: Remastered," Maxus squeaked, his new suit now singed and covered in soot.

The crowd froze for an instant as the doors swung shut behind the charging giant. Then Maxus was knocked flat on his ass by the cheers.

"I love my job," he murmured as he waited to see if his eardrums had survived.

It was then the electrical breakers decided they had enough and flipped, casting the convention center into total darkness.

-o0o-

"Cherno! Tíng xiàlái! Put me down!" Crimson screamed in panic, pounding on his back. "I can flee on my own!"

The Russian snarled something, brushing the last of the flaming debris from his reactor tower.

"What?! But Jǐngchá shì hǎorén!"

Cherno shot a irritated rumble her way.

"Nà shì nǐ de cuò!" she wailed. "Dāng wǒ kǒnghuāng shí, wǒ huányuán!"

Cherno made to reply, then cursed as he barreled through a thin partition hidden in the darkness. Screams and flashes of light filled his sensors as he erupted out the other side. They provided just light to see the crowd of aliens gathered before his advancing retreat.

A roar tore from his engines. He would not be chained! He would not rust away as some alien captive! He would endure!

"Hǎizhē!"

A tired sigh escaped him. They would endure.

The floodlight on his reactor tower blazed to life, blinding the alien mass. It was worse than Cherno suspected. Hundreds of lizard/birds, blue squid-headed ladies, frog-men, armored toads, and a swarm of jellyfish that-

He squawked in surprise as one of the pink monstrosities was flattened against his chest plating with a sicking sqelch. As if having a hood ornament wasn't bad enough, the still breath blob was trying to wrap up his legs! If he was organic it might have worked, but the slimy limbs were only churned into a fine gunk by his servos and motors.

"This one insists you stop!"

Cherno was taken aback as the jellyfish pulsed with light, and he heard a voice in his audio sensors. It was hard to keep his balance as he ran through the crowd, which parted like the sea before him. "Resist and this one shall be driven to use lethal force! This one insists you give it a reason to try!"

"Huì shuōhuà de shuǐmǔ!" Crimson wailed, covering her conn pod with all three of her hand. "Ràng tā tíng xiàlái!"

"This one apologizes for the inconvenience, ma'am, but your spouse is a threat to society."

Her what?!

"Wǒ de?!"

"My apologies," the stupid jellyfish continued. "I have studied at the Hanar Royal College of Inter-Species Relations. The over-the-shoulder carry is common among Turian newly weds."

The jellyfish exploded as Cherno tapped it with a fully charged Z-14 Tesla Fist. The screaming grew in intensity as the crowd was splattered with pink goop. Quite a few of the blue, squid ladies fainted, lizard/birds threw up, frong-men gasped in horor, an armored toad licked his lips, Crimson wouldn't stop screaming, and more jellyfish hurled themselves towards him!

"This-one-is-named-Dave! No!'

"This one shall ensnare his legs!"

"This one shall suffocate him!"

"This one shall not let him escape!"

Cherno roared back. And this one would pound them all to dust!

Later on, when people wondered how negotiations with the Hanar soured to such an extent, they would look back at this moment with equal parts awe and horror that one single action could cause so much strife.

When Cherno Alpha was designed, his Z-14 Tesla Fists were made specifically to kill Kaiju. Any other usage was forbidden by the Russian Government due to their extreme destructive potential on organic life. It was theorized that if Cherno punched the ground with a fully charged fist, the shock would kill every life form within a five hundred meter radius.

Hanar were mostly made of water. Water, when heated, was prone to boiling. And, unfortunately for Hanar law enforcement, their primary tactic for apprehending suspects was to link up in a net and bring them down through shere numbers. This was not often successful, as many non-Hanar suspects suffocated under the assault.

Even if he had known, Chenro Alpha wouldn't have cared for such things. All he saw was the incroching tide of pink; a churning mass of tentacles that quickly filled his field of view like some Japanese henti freak show.

Lightning crackled across his fist, as if the energy itself was screaming in defiance.

As the net of pink encircled him, Cherno let out a roar and thrust his sparking limb into the dead center of the mass.

There was a flash of light, a boom, and a splat.

-o0o-

Detective Chellick blinked, carefully considered what he just heard, then blinked again in bewilderment. "I'm sorry… run that by me again."

The no name officer in charge of the investigation looked down at his notes. "At 1500 hours the E3 convention center was hit by a black out, which witnesses believed to be the prelude of a break in."

Chellick nodded. That, at least, was something he could understand. The rest? "And after that?"

"Uh…" the officer hesitated, shufflying what few notes he had. "Uh... something about a wedding, I think?"

"Alright…" Chellick blinked again, then gestured to the pink goop splattered on the walls, two hundred meters away from the point of detonation. "So how did we get from a wedding, to this?"

"Uh… honeymoon gone wrong?" The officer qualled under Chellicks glare. "Mine wasn't so great, that's all I'm saying."

"Oh, I never would have thought about that," Chellick muttered, dryly. He began pacing back and forth, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation. "So a Krogan and his new Turian wife just waltz in here, blow up the wall, break a few of very bone in the galaxy, kill a bunch of Hanar, paint the walls pink, and leave half our witnesses traumatized!" He finished in shout, whirling on the officer, who tried to hide behind his datapad. "Please explain how that makes any sense?!"

"Uhm… I…"

"And why would a Turian woman even…" Chellick stopped mid rant as he remembered his own… insecurity. "Nope. Not talking about that again."

The whole thing sounded staged. Hanar didn't just blow up. The power needed was… well, it was unthinkable. And a Turian going after a Krogan for his quad? The less said about that the better. Still, thirteen Hanar were dead and people were looking for answers.

The only thing the officer had going in his favor with his... honeymoon theory was that a squad of patrolling C-Sec responded to the same pair screaming in an alley behind the convention center. As much as he hated to admit it the theory had merit. But how did the Hanar factor into this?

"Unless it was staged…" he murmured as a new possibility dawned on him, something even worse.

He snapped his tallens in the officer's face, who was still babbling. "Hey, shut up."

The Turian snapped to attention. "Yes sir!"

"You any good at rustling up information?"

The officer hesitated. "Reasonably, sir."

"Good enough." Chellick took and breath and composed himself. When he spoke, it was with the confidence of his station. "I believe we have just stumbled upon the plot of the century. Our actions from this point on may decide the fate of the entire Citadel."

The officer's eyes widened.

"We must move quickly if we are to make any headway against these aggressors, and I need you to do some research for me."

The officer's chest swelled with pride. "Happy to help, sir!"

"Good man! I need you to search for any suicide death cults on the Citadel. Particularly if they they're Hanar exclusive."

The man hesitated slightly, but remain stern.

"After that, I need you to look through the C-Sec database for any recent murders that appear Krogan related."

The officer nodded. "Yes sir. And where will you be, sir?"

"I'll be investigating any weddings gone wrong," Chellick huffed. "No honest Turian woman would go for a Krogan." He shot the officer a look. "Witnesses described the Krogan carrying her bridal style, right?"

"Yes sir!" The man hesitated again. "But… how do we know it was a Turian? I mean…" he wilted under Chellick's glare. "I could've been a Human for all we know. No one got a good look at her."

"Human bridal style is across the chest." Chellick mimed the action. "Turian style is over the shoulder. The better to tap that with! Spirits, man, what did you do for your wedding."

"Asari style, sir," the man grinned. "It was-"

"And I'm gonna stop you there. That is one investigation I want nothing to do with," Chellick cut him off and resumed his pacing. "So, we know for a fact it was a Turian, but why would a Krogan be following Turian tradition?"

"Because the lady wanted to salvage what little she could of her best day ever," the officer gasped as he caught on.

"Precisely!" Chellick crowed. "Most likely it was an arranged marriage she didn't agree with. Why else would she run off with her boyfriend. All just to spite her father. Devious. So, we find the wedding she ran from, we know the girl."

"Devious… and touching."

"Shut up. Go, find out everything you can... Meanwhile," Chellick grinned as the man ran off. "I have some weddings to crash."

-o0o-

"Just admit it!" Gipsy shouted, crossing her arms angrly. "I closed the Breach, dammit!"

"Yeah, but I got there first!" Striker shot back.

"Big deal! You were suppose to close it, remember? And what about Hong Kong?" Gipsy pranced as only Striker could, mimicking his Australian accent. "Oh, look at me, I'm Striker Eureka. Oh, what's that? EMP? Here, let me bend over for you, mister Leatherback, my ass needs a good kicking."

Striker's knuckles popped ominously as his hands curled into fists. "You wanna say that again… mate?" he growled.

Gipsy huffed. "Why? Upset a steam engine did a better job than you?"

"No!"

Words she would have regretted later were on the cusp of her vocalizers when common sense finally reasserted itself. Gipsy sagged, suddenly realizing she had just wasted a couple hours of her new life. Besides, it was better to quit when she was ahead.

Thing were going well. By her standards, anyway. The alien was still dead against the window and they were discussing exactly what they should do next. Then one passing comment about the reliability of Jaegers sparked up a debate on Gipsy's Arc-9 Reactor verses Striker's XIG Supercell Chamber. Then it became Mark IIIs verses Mark Vs. Then the Mark V versus everything else. Emus included. Gipsy argued that if a couple hundred thousand birds could beat a country than a couple million could beat a Jaeger.

Striker cried bullshit.

Somewhere along that line, and dozens of other aside, Striker called her an oil tanker. She was about to brag about her actions with Otachi, when the implication clicked that he was calling her fat. That would not stand.

She called him short.

He called her top heavy.

She told him his wings made him look like a girl.

He asked how that made any sense.

After a quick recovery, she called him six tits.

He called her flat chested.

She asked why they were using human iodems and why they offended her so.

He said she started it first and that he had no idea.

They must have gone on for an hour until the Breach came up, which led them to where they were now, and though her core roared for a fight, Gipsy couldn't muster the will to go on. Looking out the window on the alien city, the whole thing felt pointless. So, instead of rising to the challenge, Gipsy huffed and stomped away, leaving Striker fuming.

"This ain't over, Danger!"

"Piss off, Eureka!" She stopped mid step. "And for the record-"

But Striker never got to hear what was on the record as the door to the lab suddenly opened and Cherno Alpha stomped in. Pink was splattered all across his chest and Reactor Tower. He glared at the two arguing Jaegers, then dumped the shivering form of Crimson Typhoon on one of the slabs.

"Shì... Tā jiéshùle ma?" the crimson Jaeger asked, only to shrink back and curl into a ball when Cherno snarled at her. Then the massive Russian turned and fixed Gipsy with a look of pure disdain.

"C-Cherno Alpha?" Gipsy stammered. Then she turned to Striker with a satisfied smirk. "See? I told you we weren't the only ones."

The smirk died when Cherno rumbled something that even Aleksis would have censored, but it fired up Gipsy's core hot than Striker ever could.

"You take that back, Alpha." she snarled.

Cherno rumbled like a volcano.

"C-Cherno?" the tenson defused somewhat as Crimson touched the Russian's shoulder with a trembling hand. "I-It wasn't her fault."

Gipsy smiled softly. "Thank you, Crimson."

"I-It might have been M-Mako's-"

"Hey!"

"Eep!" Crimson tumbled off the slab and cowered behind Chero's legs. "I'm sorry!" she wailed. "It was only a possibility!"

"Yeah right!"

"Piss off, Eureka!"

Cherno turned to Striker with a growl, who bristled.

"What's that supposed ta' mean?!"

Cherno rumbled on, unapologetic, jabbing a thick finger at Striker

As the shouts grew in volume, Crimson slowly backed away, whimpering as Cherno's incinerator turbines roared to life.

Wow, it's been a while since I last posted. And with new rewrites all around! (Still have to get to Rose of the Stars) So… technically they could be considered new stories, but hey, technicalities. If you read the little excerpt on the old story (Team Jaeger) then you know what's happening. If not… well, prepare for a little personal story time. If you don't care about my life choices, good bye, and I hope you enjoyed the fanfic.

Now, story time.

You see, it all started January 5, 2018, my last update of Team Jaeger.

I was working a dead end job; waking up at 5am and getting home sometime around 5pm or sometimes even 6. I worked at meat shop, you see, so the work had to get done immediately, cause we couldn't afford to have meat stuck in the freezer or cooler. The food industry isn't as cut throat as other businesses, but you always - always - have to be on top of things. All. The freaking. Time. Because unlike other products, food wastes away, rots, freezer burns, and a whole host of other problems. And if one of those animals came in contaminated or the cooler quit… oh boy. It didn't help that I was working just a few dollars over minimum wage. Looking back, and considering the amount of work I was doing, it sucked!

Despite everything, I wasn't living from pay cheque to pay cheque. I was pocketing some of the money, living in a comfortable apartment, and bought my car cash down.

Honestly, I thought I was set for life. The problem was I was a shut in. My days mostly consisted of work, come home, play games, watch videos, and sometimes write before bed. Even my weekends were dull. I'm not a guy that drinks or goes to parties. I do things for a reason. If there's nothing I have to do in town, nothing I need, why should I go out? Yeah, I didn't have any friends in town. Stop laughing.

So… yeah. I was a lonely guy. Video games and fanfiction were my escape. I wanted more though. I didn't want to be stuck in that basement suite for the rest of my life, wasting away as the years passed outside my window. But I just couldn't figure out how.

But as I came to realize, the worst thing you can do is remain stagnant. Change nothing and nothing changes. During this time I came to realize just how much I despised my job. It sucked the life out of me day by day. So I began to look for things I could monetize in my spare time, and maybe become self employed. My fanfiction was the first thing I looked at, the only thing I was known for in the online world. And, possibly, the best shot I had. Others made a living off of writing, so why couldn't I?

That's where it all started.

When I broke the news I was moving to reception was mixed. Somewhere willing to support me and others weren't. Their reasons were valid, even if I wanted to curse their names for making me doubt myself. Because of that my p...a...treon never came to be. Considering most of my will to write was required just to make it through the day, I realized I didn't have the drive for the kind of output and quality I needed. (For clarification, I have an account but haven't launched it yet.)

January 6, 2018. Most frustrating day of my life. Realizing I was stuck. Frustrated that I couldn't move forward in my job and in my life. So, to my shame, I retreated further into video games for a few more months, fantasizing at what could have been. At work, I started daydreaming, imagining that I was anywhere else but there. Low and behold, I imagined myself as a special forces operative, parachuting behind enemy lines to wreak havoc upon the enemy.

And then I would wake up and find myself back in the meat shop. Cutting meat. As I had for the past two and a half years. I sighed, picked up my knife and prepared another Cross Rib roast, thinking; 'Wow. I wish I could do that.'

Que lightbulb moment.

Holy shit, I really could do that.

First thought: No. No, that's impossible. Just look at yourself. You're fat. You weigh 280 pounds, pushing 290. Your last time for a 500 meter was 4 minutes. What makes you think you can qualify for this?

Second thought: What's stopping me? I'm not a kid anymore. I'm 21 years old, I can make my own choices. If I want to join the army… what's stopping me.

That went from my most frustrating day ever to my most terrifying day ever. I thought about it all day, went home, did some research, and came to the conclusion that, yes… I wanted this. And it wasn't just a passing fantasy either. I meditated, thought, and prayed on it for two weeks. By the end, my determination was as strong as ever.

I sent in my application the very next day. Months later, on December 18, 2018, I was sworn into the Canadian Armed Forces. Tomorrow, as I'm writing this, I go off to Quebec for Basic Military Qualification.

I'm not afraid. Not anymore.

In the beginning I was fat, unmotivated, and uncontent with my life. Now, I have a drive I can't describe. I'm biting at the bit to go.

I now weigh 230 pounds of solid muscle.

I can sprint the 500 meter in under 50 seconds.

I can back squat almost my full weight. Bench press it too.

I can run for kilometres on end.

I can hold my breath for 3 minutes on empty lungs.

I can do things I thought impossible. But I also understand this might mean nothing to the people reading this. Just another muscle man blowing hot air. Well I'm very proud of what I accomplished and what I'm about to do. The first of my family to join the army since my great, great, great, great grandfather in the American Civil War.

But enough about my life, what about my the fanfiction? I still do enjoy writing fanfiction, just my priorities have shifted with my new occupation. I want to keep making the stuff you guys enjoy, but updates will be… actually, I don't know what updates will be like. I guess I'm just have to experiment as I go.

Well, I got to get to sleep. Got a big day tomorrow! And if I had to leave you with one parting piece of advice, I'd say stay true to yourself. It's your life. Why waste it doing something you hate? Just get out there and try.

Take care everyone and I'll see you next time.