Chapter One: Ranger

A/N: Hi everyone, so this is the edited first chapter of the story :) There will be more to come soon, so I hope you enjoy this! :D

Like millions of others, I first saw the attack on the TV. Everyone assumed it was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. It wasn't until the footage showed up on the screen that we realised this was something a lot bigger, and a lot more terrifying. My dad, Gavin Bryant, and I had been away for the week when the kaiju attacked. The Sydney metropolitan area hadn't stood a chance and Dad, a military fighter pilot, had buried his face in his hands when he had witnessed the destruction.

How old had I been then? Eight, maybe nine? I remember Dad getting on the phone to one of his closest friends, Hercules Hansen. I could hear the conversation from my room. Not Herc's voice, but enough to realise that Herc's wife Angela had been lost during the attack on Sydney.

Nothing cool ever happens in Australia. That's what they always say, what all the movies will show you. It's always New York or Los Angeles or one of the big American cities. But that's where they're wrong because after the attack on Sydney, Australia got busy. The government invested billions of dollars into building a weapon that could withstand the might of the kaiju. Into building a Jaeger. 100 billion dollars became Vulcan Specter and the Sydney Shatterdome opened on May 25, 2017.

I remember the grand opening. I'd attended with Dad and the Hansens. Chuck was my age but a lot bigger, and had always teased me incessantly. After Angela's death though, the kid had changed. He resented Herc for the fact that Herc had chosen him over his mother. Herc was the commanding PPDC officer at the Sydney Shatterdome, and on the opening night, he was going to be the one to announce the pilots of Vulcan Specter. It was a Mark-3 Jaeger, a new model. Only the best for Australia, right?

"Today, we realise our goal of defending Australia's coastline," Herc stated, his voice echoing throughout the Shatterdome as the entranced potential Rangers listened intently. "Today, we pick two of our best and brightest to pilot the first of Australia's Jaegers – Vulcan Specter. We had many candidates, and it was a tough decision. But you all know that it's not just about the physical. The neural link between pilots is a necessity. The first pilot is Chloe Dorman."

I glanced at the blonde-haired woman who made her way up towards Herc. Chloe was twenty-five years old, and to me, unfairly resembled a Barbie doll. She was extremely pretty, with long golden blonde hair, bright blue eyes and sun-kissed skin. But let's get something straight, despite looking like Malibu Barbie, Chloe Dorman was tough as nails. Something about her made her perfect as a Ranger.

"Our second pilot and Chloe's co-pilot…Gavin Bryant."

Every muscle in my body tensed as I turned to look at my dad. He hadn't mentioned anything about applying to become a Ranger, and childishly, I felt betrayed. Dad swallowed the lump in his throat and followed Chloe up to the stage, shaking Herc's hand and giving him a brisk nod. I stood there in stunned silence. I wanted to scream at him, to rage. I wanted to tell him how unfair it was for him to do something like that, when his life would be put at risk. But I couldn't. I didn't. All I could do was stand there and applaud along with everyone else.

"Why didn't you tell me, Dad?" I demanded afterwards. The moment we'd headed back home, Dad had collapsed on the couch and switched on the TV, as if being selected as a Jaeger pilot was exhausting for him. How did he think I felt about the situation? Fourteen years old, and my dad had chosen the PPDC over me.

"It wasn't necessary," Dad replied quietly, casting me a look and sighing heavily. "Melanie…I didn't want you to be worried or upset."

"Well, it's a bit too late for that now!" I exclaimed. To be considered to be a Ranger, Dad would have had to undergo neural tests, to see how he linked up with others, to check his physical state. It wasn't just a spontaneous decision. He'd done all of this behind my back. "What if you get killed?"

"Melanie, someone needs to defend this country," Dad said, folding his arms over his chest and raising his eyebrows as though I was a small child throwing a tantrum. "If it's not me, who else is it going to be? I've got a good partner in Chloe…"

I didn't want to listen. I barely even knew Chloe. How did I know if she was prepared for fight tooth and nail to have my dad's back? I headed into my room, taking care to slam the door behind me. Part of me knew that I was being irrational and immature, but I was scared. We had lost so many during the Sydney attack, and although the Jaegers had been successful, they weren't death-proof.

I knew there was one person who would understand my dislike for what Dad was embarking on. I hesitated only momentarily, before my fingers flew over the touchpad of my phone and I was texting Chuck Hansen. We had never been overly close, despite our dads being good friends, but I felt like that was about to change. His dad was the head of the Sydney Shatterdome, mine was a Jaeger pilot. Like it or not, we had both been thrown into this mess together – two kids with dead mums and military dads, two kids who wouldn't be kids much longer.