RUST, IT CRAWLED UP NEARLY EVERY METAL SURFACE OF HONG KONG'S SHATTERDOME. You could smell it, mixed with the stink of the ocean's rot; decay, desperation, humanity's final curtain, waiting to fall. Methos pushed the wheeled chair away from the desk, tossing the pen in his hand onto the pile of notes from today's patients. He wasn't sure there was even a point to charting anymore, but the habits of many lifetimes were hard to break. He needed to find Stacker anyway; the Marshall should be made aware that most of Methos' patients over the last few weeks were suffering from injuries sustained during fights. The inhabitants of the Shatterdome were under extreme pressure—the fate of the planet being in your hands and all that—and it had to find an outlet somewhere. Increasingly, that outlet was smashing someone's face into a table.
"SO THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNED," METHOS SAID, leaning back on the small sofa in Stacker's office.
Stacker Pentecost, Marshall of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, grunted an acknowledgment, before taking a sip of his whisky. Then he said, "Raleigh Becket has nothing left to lose—he could die now, but he will die when our planet does. It wasn't hard to convince him."
"At least he has more sense than MacLeod." Methos grimaced, putting the glass he held down hard on the table next to him.
"He's still on the Wall then?"
He nodded sharply. "Damn fool; he knows the Coastal Walls will never work, that it's a distraction for the masses, offering hope where there is none." Methos thought back to the last time he'd seen the Highlander, the last time they'd fought over Duncan's decision to work on the San Francisco portion of the Alaska to California Wall. Methos had thought that six months in, he'd have finally seen it for the folly it was.
"The man needs to feel like he's doing something for the fight. Finding out that Immortals aren't able to interface was a blow to him, you know that."
Sighing, Methos scrubbed at his hair. "We spend our whole lives fighting, or preparing to, and then, when it's the fight of your life, you're useless." When the Jaeger program was created, Duncan had been one of the first to sign up, but in the end, it turned out that Immortals were incapable of completing the neural handshake between two pilots that was necessary to interface with a Jaeger. He'd been gutted by the outcome. "After Sydney, no one can pretend the Coastal Walls are going to work. I liked the old time Apocalypse a whole lot better."
Pentecost cracked a smile. "I intend to cancel the Apocalypse, Ben. My plan will work."
"From your lips, as they say." He paused, wondering if there was any point pushing right now. What the hell, he'd always been one to rush in where angels feared to tread. "So what's the scuttlebutt on who will come out on top at the trials later?" Jaeger Rangers had to be drift compatible; their minds becoming one hemisphere each of the brain, left and right, to pilot the massive war machines. It was too much for one person to handle. Becket was back, but he needed a partner before he was of any use. "If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Mako. She's better than any three of the candidates in the pool," he finished with a touch of pride.
"Ben—" Stacker said with a quelling look at his chief medical officer.
Methos held up his hands innocently. "But then, I'm not a betting man." With a wink, he drained his glass, leaving the office without another word.
METHOS CAUGHT UP WITH MAKO AS SHE LEFT THE KWOON COMBAT ROOM. "Mako, wait." He took hold of her shoulder, stopping her.
"You know I'm capable!" she whispered fiercely, blinking back tears.
"I know; and so does he." He put his arm around her in a half hug. "Let's take a walk."
Methos had known Mako Mori nearly her entire life. It hadn't been long after Stacker had saved the little girl from the Kaiju, Onibaba, during the attack on Tokyo, that he'd shown up on Methos' doorstep with Mako in tow. He'd been dumbfounded when Pentecost had informed him that he intended to raise the girl—and that he wanted Methos' help in doing so. The man had ridden right over all of his arguments and objections, and so Methos had found himself Mako's oji before he even knew what had happened.
They stopped at the edge of the platform, Hong Kong Bay at their feet. "Do you remember when you were small; you came to my study, demanding I teach you how to fight?"
"Yes. Even then I knew chichi-ue would object to my choice."
"So it was our secret," Methos finished. The child had had a ferocity in learning what Methos could teach her. "You told me you would pilot a Jaeger one day, avenging your family. And I believed you—I still do. And after he discovered our lessons, you know that he encouraged you to learn everything you could. He believes in you, Mako. I know that, and so do you."
"No one could deny the outcome of my bout with Becket. We are drift compatible, I am the most qualified candidate, you know this!"
"It isn't your ability that's in doubt, it's his heart."
"Don't I deserve a chance to fight for my world, just as he has done?"
"Let me talk to him again." His words earlier must have had some influence, since Stacker had allowed her to fight Becket in the end. And she'd been magnificent.
"You and I both know that there is nothing you can say that will change his mind. If the end of the world fails to make a difference to him, then even your words will have no effect."
"THE BOY HAS BALLS," METHOS OBSERVED WRYLY. He'd witnessed Raleigh Becket's confrontation with the Marshall over him not allowing Mako to be on the command team of Gipsy Danger, and despite the gravity of their current situation, had found it hilarious.
"Don't start, Ben," Pentecost warned with a chop of his hand. "I don't want to hear it."
"Oh, no, that's not how this works. You were the one that got me involved in Mako's life in the first place. You don't get to shut me out when it suits you!"
He started to respond, before snapping his mouth shut, lips pressed together in a thin line. Sitting down, he waved a hand to continue.
"I know she's a daughter to you, family, but she has earned the right to follow her own path—even if that path leads to her death." The last was said gently. "But you know what? I don't think that's what awaits her. She survived a Kaiju attack when she was just a child. Imagine what she can accomplish as a Ranger."
Not responding, eyes unfocused, he contemplated a framed photo on his desk.
Methos picked it up. A young woman in an RAF flight suit, leaning against an F-22 Raptor, looked up at him. Her eyes were full of the joy of life, and a fond smile briefly crossed his face. "She's not Luna."
"I know that. And yet, they're very similar."
"Stubborn, headstrong, and bossy?" he asked with a laugh.
He got a smile in return. "Yeah. You know, when my sister called to tell me she'd just married a guy she'd met the week before in Vegas, I thought she'd lost her mind—even if he was a doctor. Hell, I thought you must be crazy too."
Methos had met Luna in Las Vegas in the early part of 2013. He'd been there with Mac for a gig of Dawson's, and Luna was on a week's leave from her assignment at Vandenberg. The two had fallen fast, fallen hard. He didn't know what drove them that whirlwind week, but he'd wanted to grasp the moment, not wasting a second. Later, looking back, he wondered if somehow he'd known they wouldn't have long together. By August of that year, his new wife was dead, killed in action during the battle against the first Kaiju to attack Earth, Trespasser. His heart contracted a little, remembering the vibrant Luna Pentecost. He'd had many wives, but each loss left a scar.
"Luna called me, just before the battle." Methos touched the face in the glass with gentle fingers. "She was fearless, but she knew the odds weren’t good. Asked me to look out for you if she didn't make it back. Watching the TV, during the fight, I knew one of those jets was hers, and all I could do was watch, helpless." Reaching out, he gripped his brother-in-law's wrist. "I know you felt the same, and you don't want to do it again with Mako, but Stacker, if this is the end of the world, the end of humanity's world, don't you think she deserves to go out fighting, if that's to be our fate?"
METHOS WAITED IN THE ENTRY FOR HIS CHOPPER TO BE MADE READY. Leaning against the bulkhead, he watched the bank of monitors across from him. The crawl was nothing new: hundreds of thousands of refugees moved inland, riots because the Sydney Wall failed and the Jaegers were gone, the UN insisting that the Coastal Walls would work. "Fools."
Herc Hansen joined him, glancing at the news report. "Daft, all of it. Do they think the public will believe the Walls will work if they just keep repeating it over and over?"
Slapping the Jaeger Ranger, and Pentecost's second in command, on the back, Methos replied, "They just need to keep saying it till the ships are ready."
"It sounded cracked, when Stacker told me your wild theory, but I'm coming to believe that you're right."
"Of course I'm right." He said it like not believing was madness. "The Jaeger program employed the best and brightest on the planet; engineers, scientists, doctors. Where are they now? Not here---" his arm swept the hangar deck, a disparaging look on his face "—so where did they go? The one real defense we had, gutted by faceless powerbrokers in the UN."
"They think it's hopeless, that we’re doomed." Grimacing, he said, "They take our materials, our people, to build space ships—the chance to save a few thousand, against the millions who will die here."
"We're not done yet, Hansen."
"You honestly believe that?"
"I don't, but Stacker does, and the man has a way of making even the most cynical see a possible dawn."
A deck hand approached. "Your chopper's ready, sir."
"Night on the town?" Hansen asked wryly.
Methos grinned. "Something like that. Supply run for medication—I have unique needs and that calls for unique methods of procurement." These days, the black market was the only place to get decent drugs.
"And would that unique method happen to be a very pretty brunette with a killer figure?"
"It would indeed."
"Thought as much," he said, smiling. Then, turning serious he looked out across the bay towards Hong Kong. "Will you pass on a message? Tell her…tell her I intend to hold her to her promise when we've won this." His expression lightened, turning back to face Methos. "She'll understand. Hell, she'll probably want to renegotiate the terms!"
"I wouldn’t doubt it," he agreed. "And don't worry, I'll tell her."
ACCEPTING THE TEA AMANDA HANDED HIM, METHOS SAT BACK ON THE SOFA, allowing himself, for just a moment, to pretend that this was just a social call. Then he sighed. He didn't have that good of an imagination. "Do you have what I need?"
"All of it," Amanda replied cockily.
"Even the chemo drugs?" he asked in surprise.
"Even those. I'm a professional, darling, remember?"
"I never doubted you."
"The Marshall is worse?"
"Brain cancer is a nasty business." Back in the early days, when the first defenses had been mounted against the Kaiju attacks, Jaegers hadn't been sufficiently shielded against radiation. Most of those early Rangers were already dead. Methos often thought that only sheer cussedness had kept Stacker Pentecost alive.
"You've kept him alive this long."
"And I need to keep him alive, till the end, whatever it may be." Getting up, he walked to the window, high above the Bone Slums of Hong Kong. "You should know, Amanda, that what's left of our brain trust at the Shatterdome predict a double attack is coming, then a triple, then more multiple attacks, closer and closer together. Unless Pentecost's plan works, nothing will stop the inevitable end. You may want to reconsider staying on the coast."
Amanda came to stand beside him. "Honey, where would I go? Inland? To the camps? Not nearly enough food, or fuel, or law and order, if the stories are true. It's a ravaging mob, a place to go to die. I'm not going out that way."
"You'll die here."
She shrugged. "At least I'll die lying on silk sheets, with a full stomach. That isn't so bad."
Methos laughed, putting an arm around his old friend. "I suppose it isn't. We've both lived through more than our share of starvation and cold. Not really the way I would want to end."
"You don't want it to end at all," she reminded him, reaching up to kiss his cheek.
"What can I say? I like me, and I like me being alive even more."
"And Stacker's plan? You think it will work?"
"If it doesn't, I'm going to be very disappointed."
She laughed lightly. "Perish the thought, darling."
"Oh, and speaking of silk sheets, I have a message for you from a certain Australian Vice-Marshall." He passed Herc's words on to Amanda. "Care to share?"
A gleam in her eye, she shook her head. "Now, now, a lady never kisses and tells. But I will say that it's a promise I won't mind keeping."
"Fair enough." He kissed the top of her head. "I'm glad you're here with me, Amanda."
Hugging him, she replied, "Me too, Methos."
METHOS RACED THROUGH THE SHATTERDOME TOWARDS HIS SICKBAY. He'd just spent the last several hours trapped in Amanda's private shelter during a Kaiju attack. The chopper pilot, taking him back to HQ, had filled him in on the outcome of the battle: A dual attack, just like predicted, both Class Four Kaiju. Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha, and their Rangers, gone. Hercules Hansen injured, maybe unable to pilot Striker Eureka with his son, Chuck. Having no other alternative, Pentecost had assigned Mako to Gipsy Danger with Raleigh Becket, the two of them literally saving the day. Futility clawed at him, he knew what Stacker would do next—really there was no other option.
"Herc," he called out as he pushed through the doors of the sickbay.
The man looked up from the examining table he was sitting on. "Even your magic won't make this arm work," he said bitterly.
Methos looked at the med tech binding Herc's arm against his chest for affirmation.
"Sorry, sir," she replied. "It'll take months of physical therapy before he can take the load of operating a Jaeger arm."
The grief and frustration in Herc's eyes was palpable. "It's over, Ben, all of it," he said hoarsely. "Me and the boy, we barely made it out."
"No," a commanding voice said from behind them. All around, people came to attention as Marshall Pentecost strode in. "We may be at the end of our time, but I'm sure as hell not out of hope." Reaching the two men, Stacker laid a gentle hand on Herc's shoulder. "Your boy and I, we'll see it through. Mako and Becket will have our backs."
"You know it will kill you," Methos said in a fierce undertone. "Your brain can't take the neural load."
"And you know there's no other choice," he said simply. "Come on, Ben, pump me up with whatever you have in your bag of tricks here—" he jutted his chin down at the sack of medication Methos had got from Amanda "—and let's do this thing. Once and for all."
NEITHER MAN SPOKE AS METHOS HELPED STACKER SUIT UP. His eyes drifted to the photo of Luna, lying face up on Stacker's desk where he'd left it seemingly a lifetime ago.
Stacker followed his gaze, clasping Methos' shoulder. "I have a lot to thank my sister for, not the least, marrying you. I wouldn't be standing here, thirteen years later." Methos shook his head. "It's true, and you know it. This is my time, Ben, and I'm here for it because of you."
"You give me entirely too much credit," he drawled. Stacker didn't reply, just laughed. "I'm sure you have some rousing speech prepared for the troops. Go out with an oratory bang."
"I have a few things in mind. I'm not Lincoln, but I think I can stand the test of history," he said wryly.
"Of that, I am entirely certain, my friend."
"I'd like to ask one more thing of you, Ben. Make sure that what we did here isn't forgotten; that those who died protecting this world are remembered."
Methos clasped his arms around his brother-in-law in a hard embrace. "Not till all my days are done. You will be remembered, I promise you."
"I WILL REMEMBER ALL YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME, OJI-SAN." Mako looked up at Methos with a fierce determination that took him back to those early lessons as a child.
"The most important thing to remember is to trust in yourself, and in Becket. Be in the here and now, Mako. Do not let the ghosts of the past, or the future, haunt you."
"I will not, I promise."
"We good here?" Raleigh Becket called from across the corridor, striding up to them.
"We are." Methos fixed a look on the Jaeger Ranger. "Do this, and the both of you get back here in one piece."
"Planning on it, sir."
"You better be! I want her back by midnight, and not a minute after," he said sternly, eyes twinkling.
Becket's mouth opened and shut a few times as Mako giggled, before he relaxed, a grin breaking out on his face. "You got it, sir, midnight. No later."
"Then what are you waiting for? There's Kaiju out there that need their ass kicked."
ATTEMPTS HAD BEEN MADE BEFORE TO DESTROY THE BREACH, that seeping wound at the bottom of the Pacific, which spewed Kaiju from its depths to destroy mankind. No direct attack had ever worked, the munitions merely bouncing off the closed portal. Pentecost's plan, to have a single Jaeger enter the breach during a Kaiju attack, while it was open, had never been attempted. It required fellow Jaegers to defend their Queen as it stormed the fortress that was the portal with a thermonuclear warhead strapped to its back in the ultimate sacrifice move
"It's not going to work!" Methos heard the words as they were screamed across the command deck.
Geiszler and Gottlieb, the two remaining scientists in the Shatterdome, in a rush of words, gave them the awful news. Stacker's plan of detonating the nuke in the breach itself, destroying it, was futile. "The Kaiju, they get through, with, like a genetic bar code! If you carry the bomb in, it'll just be blocked from entering! We have to make the breach think you are a Kaiju!"
"You copy that?" Herc Hansen asked the two Jaeger teams.
"Copy that," Pentecost responded.
Tendo Choi, head of ops, broke in, "We have a third signature! Triple event, Category Five!"
Methos stepped back, away from the action and clamor. There was nothing he could do now except wait it out. As if from a distance, he heard the back and forth chatter between command and the two Jaegers. Then, clear as a bell ringing on a winter's night, he heard Stacker's voice rise above the din. "Mako, you can finish this…you can always find me in the drift."
Then came the voice of Chuck Hansen, "What can we do, sir?"
Stacker responding, "We can clear a path for the lady."
What happened next was almost surreal, Striker Eureka's command crew sacrificing their lives to take out one of the Kaiju so that Gipsy Danger would have a carcass to penetrate the breach. Then they were in, falling, a nuclear reactor set to detonate. The tension in the command center as they waited was almost unbearable.
The command computer's voice intoned, "Manual override initiated. Core meltdown in sixty seconds."
Then the words, the ones they never thought they'd hear. "Direct hit, the breach has collapsed."
Exultation released from the expectation of certain annihilation welled up around Methos as the reality of what just had happened sank in. Cheers boiled up the walls to the heavens as the apocalypse was, as Stacker had promised, canceled.
METHOS PUT THE PHOTO OF LUNA IN THE FOOT LOCKER. "You would have been proud of him, love. He finished what you started." Sighing, he closed the lid, snapping the locks closed.
"What will you do now?" Herc Hansen asked from behind him.
Methos turned, shrugging. "What I always do, Herc: live."
"Sounds like a plan."
"I'm not sure. I can't bury my son, but I can remember him, regret the father I never got to be."
Shaking his head, Methos said, "No regrets, Herc. Chuck wouldn't want that."
"What would he want, do you think?"
"Oh, I don't know, his dad remembering there was a lady with a killer body who made a promise." Methos grinned slyly. "I have it on good authority it's one she'd like to keep."
Herc snorted, shaking his head ruefully. "I might have to look into that."
Methos clasped his shoulder. "You do that. And, Herc, my advice? Live."
End Notes: Merriman had Pacific Rim listed as a desired crossover, and had a preference for stories exploring the problems with immortality and the challenges of living through various time periods. That seemed to fit really well into the premise of Pacific Rim were Methos to be caught up in that universe.
The title is from Stacker's speech in the movie before the last battle, At the edge of our hope. At the end of our time. Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse. The ships Methos talks about aren't a part of the movie plot, just my personal head canon.
Ramin Djawadi and his terrific soundtrack for the movie really set the mental scene for writing this.