Hello there Carylers!
Here is chapter 1 of a huge challenge I set for myself. My first 'crossover AU': Caryl, Pacific Rim style.
I'll be honest and warn you, if you haven't seen the film and/or know nothing about it, some of the terms and history mentioned in this fic may be confusing. But I'll do all I can to keep our babies in character, and even try to rework some canon into their transformed backstories!
Warning number 2: Prepare for angst. It's gonna happen.
Please enjoy, and forgive me for any mishaps I may embarrass myself with!
(I disclaim ALL the TWD and Pacific Rim. THEY BELONG TO BEAUTIFUL GENIUSES AND I AM NOT AMONG THEM)
L.A wasn't much to look at, really. Tall buildings and busy streets, and pretty much nothing else as far he saw.
But it was far, far away from Georgia, and that's what mattered most.
Daryl shut out the insect-like buzz of the crowd around him, huddling against a far wall in the half-built structure that the government was calling the "The Ranger Academy". Around him a mass of people, from lanky teenaged girls to pudgy, balding men stood amongst themselves and chatted it up, waiting to find out how exactly this training shit was going to go down.
They were volunteers, every one of 'em, all clamoring for a shot to strap inside one of those giant metal robots and kick some kaiju ass.
He watched them from his (barely) quieter corner, and for a moment he wondered at their reasons.
Why did that girl that looked like a fucking fifteen year old want to kill monsters? Or that middle-aged fella in the business suit?
Who had they lost?
What were they running from?
His attention peeled away from them when two men in uniforms shouted over the fray, commanding silence. Daryl huffed. He could already tell he wasn't gonna like much of this, especially these suits tryin' to tell him what to do.
But damn if he didn't need to get out there and do something like this, distract himself from the shit back home. Trade one fight for another.
And these would actually mean something.
They started calling names off the sign-in list, one by one, forming lines out of the chaos.
This entire thing was a mess, really, thrown together in the past year and a half, quick-like, desperate.
Three of those things had come through that alien-hole already, torn up big cities and killed thousands.
Or was it hundreds of thousands?
The "Jaeger program" was up and running, with a few already out there kickin' ass, but they needed more pilots to really get it going solid. They didn't even care if you were a soldier or a damn med student.
If you could get through the training and do this "drift" thing with someone, you could climb into a jaeger and fuck some shit up.
Daryl felt his lips lift.
He needed this.
The large room was thinning out when he saw her.
Sitting directly across from him on the opposite wall, legs clamped together, fists clenched tight in her lap. Her hair was cut short, real short, and looked like it had been a reddish-brown once, before it started speckling grey.
The red tank was just barely visible under the light beige shawl lying across her shoulders.
She looked plain, meek, out of place.
Welcome to the club, lady.
As if he'd said it out loud she raised her head and looked up at him.
Blue eyes, sad, nearly empty, met his and something deep, deep inside them shifted back to life.
Daryl blinked at her and frowned.
And then they called his name.
He signed his damn life over to the Program, was told he'd be spending weeks in training just to see if he could cut it. Either he made it through, got inside one of the jaegers, or he went home, back to nothing, to a decrepit empty house and a brother just crawling out of the clink.
And he had no want for Merle's shit anymore, no matter that they were all that was left of the Dixons now….
And maybe, that little voice in his head was right. Get away, it had said. There's a golden opportunity. Drive your ass to California and take it…
And try not to fuck it up.
So there he was, sitting in a mess hall full of hapless nobodies all dressed in the same slate grey sweats.
He grimaced at how quickly he'd blended into them, become one of them.
Like a part in the machine.
Another half-grin slid his mouth up.
He shoveled the cold mac-n-cheese into his face and ignored his own fucked sense of humor.
He walked slowly back to his room, took his time to memorize the way.
There were so many of them, crowding the place (for now, he figured) that he couldn't make head or tails of what was where.
Daryl rounded a corner.
Brushed past a burly man who seemed to grumble at him.
Ignored the bastard and read the numbers on the doors until he finally found it. Room 34-C. Tiny, almost a damn closet. But so small that he didn't have to share it with anyone.
Most of the rooms in his hall were like that.
It helped lessen the crowd and he definitely approved.
Turning the metal handle he pushed the heavy door open and took a first step into the cool darkness.
And then saw her, out of the corner of his eye.
Right beside him, two doors to his left.
The woman with the short-cropped hair.
Head turned he peered at her, watched her pull that shawl of hers tight as she made to slink inside her own room.
He froze and she did the same before glancing to her right and looking at him.
This time, her eyes widened a hair at finding him again, and Daryl felt something in him shift when she attempted a shy smile.
And then she disappeared into her own darkness, and he felt himself do the same.
He'd remember it.