JAEGER ACADEMY: August 3, 2017
[Voice of Danger:] Drift disengaged. Executing shutdown mode…
After their third test run, the two pilots exit their Jaeger and walk back into the facility.
“Yancy, did you hear that they tried to have drift compatible pairs test in Danger while we were on leave?”
“No. But that’s common enough. Why bring it up?” Yancy’s curiosity is piqued.
“We seem to be the only ones who can drift with her. The other teams were able to drift while in all Jaegers, except Danger. Don’t you find that odd?”
“There’s a special bond between the pair that needs to work with the machine. You know that. Don’t think too hard or your head will get too big to fit through the doorways.”
Yancy throws his arm around Raleigh's neck and gives his brother’s head a good rough rub with his knuckles.
The drift is strong with them and it seems to linger even after the connection is severed. This phenomenon is called ghost-drifting. Memories of this brotherly teasing run through both their minds as Raleigh half heartedly protests and struggles to free himself from his brother’s iron grip.
MIRACLE MILE, NEAR ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: February 29, 2020 - the fateful Kaiju fight with Knifehead a CATEGORY 4
[Voice of Danger:] Pilot 1 disengaged. Neural load beyond capacity for remaining pilot.
[Voice of Danger:] Recalibrating.
ANCHORAGE SHATTERDOME - 1900 hours
In the post mission debrief, Tendo Choi brings up the fact that ‘Recalibrating’ is not part of Danger's code.
Marshall Stacker Pentecost pointedly questions his IT lead. “Mr. Choi, there must be an explanation. As head of the Jaeger program here, I need to know. The media storm waiting out there is going to be particularly unpleasant and unknowns are not acceptable.”
Tendo flails, trying to reach for anything that might be plausible. He explains that the neural net is designed to grow, but learning actual words and new procedures was assumed to be beyond the Jaeger's capabilities. For his attempt, he receives a cold 'You'd better give me more than that' stare from his commander.
Raleigh pipes in, "I'm not IT or Research, but could there have been an update to the software before the mission that would account for it?"
Tendo assures them that’s not it and lets the tiny assembled group know that all patches and updates are run through the simulator then added post mission, so pilots have time to get used to any changes. The IT team ran a full diagnostic on Danger after recovery. Systems appear normal.
Nonplussed, Stacker goes silent and rubs his hand over the scratchy stubble on his chin in thought. Only Tendo dares to breach the quiet, asking if they should wipe Danger's memory.
Slowly shaking his head, Stacker declines, “No keep it in tact with a note in the log. Danger won't be fighting Kaiju for quite a while. If the event is repeated, we'll have a comparison. Mr. Choi - you will keep looking. I want an answer.”
The stoic Marshall crosses his arms as his brows furrow deeper and deeper. Severely annoyed at the lack of answers, he waves dismissively at the two subordinates.
ANCHORAGE SHATTERDOME - 2020 hours
There is no one to walk with Raleigh now. No counselors assigned to help him through his devastating loss. It's just that everyone in Shatterdome is dealing with the aftermath of the horrific battle. In his grief for the loss of his brother and anger over his dismissal, the consuming emptiness threatens to overwhelm Raleigh as he trudges down the hall of the Alaskan Shatterdome for the last time. In the only way he knows to cope, he shoves the event from his mind.
ANCHORAGE SHATTERDOME: Danger refitted October 11, 2024
Mako Mori has been tasked with evaluating each of the Becket brothers' missions and she applies herself to the work with voracity. Most mission logs are pretty routine, but this set she feels the personality of the pilots shows through much more than the others. This isn't necessarily a compliment. She sees that the brothers, despite high marks and excellent skills, tended to make snap decisions and had an undesirable tendency towards cockiness and occasional disobedience.
Her notes show her judgement on their mission effectiveness. The pilot team could have taken almost every Kaiju a move or two earlier. What was it with them? Some sort of fighter pilot ego boost to play with the alien monsters? To her, it made the most sense to be ruthlessly efficient. The Kaiju were not a toy or a video game. The momentary flashback of the Kaiju that attacked Tokyo makes her shudder and wrap her cold hands around her steaming mug for comfort.
Finally she views their last mission - the fateful Anchorage attack. Taking a sip of her green tea before reading the overview, she wonders out loud to herself, "Becket-san wa nani ga chigau no desu ka? ( Becket-san, what is different?)"
Carefully taking in the report as a whole, a note from the IT manager sticks out - so she re-reads the hastily written add-on.
(snippet from the report:)
Danger showed unusual behavior - not in the Jaeger's programming. Possible malfunction. When the left pilot was yanked from the cockpit, Danger reported the likely pilot overload and spoke the word 'Recalibrating’. Becket finished off the Kaiju and brought her to land himself. Only two pilots in the Jaeger program have been able to pilot alone for any amount of time. What made this possible? Noting for future comparisons. Keeping memory banks intact.
-- Tendo Choi
She pulls a copy of that little statement from Choi (the only titbit about the incident) to her data pad and heads down the hall.
As she knocks on the Marshall’s door, she bites her lip from the nervous tension and her eyes go to the floor in submission. A moment later, he bids her in and asks, “You’re done with your review of the Becket brothers’ missions already, Miss Mori?”
“No, Sir. I came to ask what you know of an incident from Danger’s final mission.”
He nods, giving his permission.
“Well, Mr. Choi reported that Danger acted uncharacteristically. She said, ‘Recalibrating,’ but this is not in her programming. Why did Becket’s report not contain this behavioral discrepancy? He should have noticed this. He could have added insight,” she blurts, hoping she’s not being disrespectful.
Stacker patiently explains “Mr. Becket’s grief and the exertion from the added neural load probably led him to inadvertently leave it out. His brother was ripped from the cockpit just before he died - that would be playing over in his head. The record was noted for later, when Danger would be recommissioned or the Jaeger malfunction happened once more. I guess ‘later’ has come.”
She frowns and purses her lips, though out of deference to her commander, she won’t push the subject further.
Her inquiries to Choi don’t provide answers to her satisfaction either, and she digs through the code searching for the phrase. The only time she can find the remark is in Danger’s memory banks. The memory storage banks are hard to navigate, though, with the stream of memories being unintelligible by computer.
Back in the Marshall’s office, she requests, “Sir, may I borrow a pilot to drift with Danger? I know that only the Becket brothers were able to sync in drift with her, but perhaps another team could make some sense of the drift memory banks. As you know Sir, I am drift compatible, but I need someone to help carry the load.”
“Permission granted, Miss Mori.” The twinkle of pride in his eyes for the young girl he rescued those years ago is unrestrained. Something has captured this special young woman’s attention - so it just might be something remarkable. Since it’s not a war mission, far be it from him to stand in her way.
ANCHORAGE SHATTERDOME: October 12, 2024
Mako makes one last note in her research journal, ‘Today Mr. Shun and I would have attempted to drift with Danger to see if the memory banks hold the key to the malfunction mystery. But Anchorage Shatterdome was ordered to shut down, in favor of the ill planned coastal wall program. Will conduct the test in Hong Kong. Gypsy Danger, I will unlock your secret even if it means seeing into your very soul.’
She half wonders if a robot could even have a soul. In Shintoism, it is believed the sacred essence, the nature of the kami (or gods), is in everything from rocks to trees and rivers. And her nation, until its near demise, continued to have the highest ‘population’ of robots in the world. If a rock or mountain, why not a giant mecha?
She shrugs it off. Such thoughts are just childish fantasies like in the stories she watched as a child. No longer for her.
As she packs she wonders, ‘What will they think of a lone Japanese woman in China? Will many of them speak English? She’ll be less than 3000 km from her homeland. Will it be strange to be so near to her home country? How are they taking the consolidation in Hong Kong? Will they be ready for us?’ Shaking her head, she chides herself, ‘Baka! Concentrate!’ and renews her focus on moving.
HONG KONG SHATTERDOME - Note from Mako’s research journal: January 2, 2025
Mr. Becket arrived today with Marshall Pentecost. Thankfully the Marshall’s recruiting paid off. We need experienced pilots, since we’re going through them at a faster rate with the increased Kaiju attacks. Mr. Becket seems more quiet and humble than I would have guessed. I was touched by his modest attitude toward living with the choices one makes. Perhaps for pilots, humility comes with time?
There are many other potential pilots, but no two pilots have been able to interface with Danger. Even the test two days ago with Mr. Shun proved unsuccessful. Boot up went fine, then the drift fizzled. We had time for one more try that afternoon before the last refurbishing would be done.
On a lark, Mr. Shun, thinking that maybe the soul of the elder brother may have connected to the machine - an idea from an old anime called Roujin-Z - suggested we focus our thoughts on the former pilots of the Jaeger. A truly fantastical explanation for the fact that other pilots are unable to drift with the machine. While skeptical, who am I to argue with another approach? This seemed to help at first. We got to just before hemisphere calibration. But controlling thoughts is not conducive to the drift and it didn’t last. Mr Shun and I were not able to connect in the drift.
Mr. Shun is now convinced the Jaeger houses Mr. Yancy Becket’s reincarnated soul, and started referring to the Jaeger as Yancy. He is a much more fanciful and emotion based man than I anticipated. I have asked him to refrain from mentioning the idea to Mr. Raleigh Becket. If such a thing could even be possible, no matter how scientifically unlikely, the younger Mr. Becket will recognize it for himself. It is better than an imaginative person firing up hopes that would be dashed. No one wants to be toyed with.
HONG KONG SHATTERDOME - Mako’s Journal (encoded): January 6, 2025
I’m shaking as I record this. Today, the Marshall remembered his promise and is putting his trust in me to be Mr. Becket’s co-pilot! I must get ready! Kami-san please let the drift work this time!
HONG KONG SHATTERDOME - Mako’s journal (encoded), post first drift together
I’ve ruined my one and only chance! Mr. Becket warned me that random access from the Jaeger triggers memories. Oh Kami-san, why did I chase the rabbit? Why? Why? WHY?!!?!?!
I have NEVER before let the Marshall down. But today...
With such sorrow and humiliation, I am at a loss for further words. Will share more later when I am able.
HONG KONG SHATTERDOME - Lunch with Mr. Becket
Mako and Raleigh take refuge from the scornful eyes by heading to the viewing platform in the Jaeger yard and watching the last of the upgrades being done on Danger. Raleigh reassures her that their drift was strong - it’s just that first drifts are rough.
Nodding and smiling gratefully, she draws attention away from herself by bringing up ‘the mystery’. “From your last mission in Danger, do you recall anything unusual? I’ve been tracing down a phantom expression from her that we can’t account for. She said ‘Recalibrating’ that day. And there’s not programming for it, and no reason for it to be a malfunction - other than it’s not contained in her programming. She said it just as you started piloting solo. And no other pilot duos have been able to drift with her. It’s unsettling to not have an answer for this enigma. But her systems all check out and she was designed for a minimal amount of logical expansion, so her memory banks were never wiped.”
His eyebrow lifts in curiosity while he shakes his head.
With the swirling emotions and Mr. Shun’s crazy theory on the possible malfunction popping up in her head, she can’t help but ask, “Did you have a sense of anything different while we were in the drift today? Anything extra?”
Rubbing his chin in thought and looking up at the Jaeger he replies, “Nothing different from what I remember.”
“I sensed something like confusion,” she confesses. “Was that you?”
Before he’s able to answer, a station-wide broadcast distracts them.
HONG KONG SHATTERDOME - Post first battle together, Early hours of the morning: January 9, 2025
Mako and Raleigh have a satisfaction in their stride as they walk down the hall together to their respective quarters before mission debrief. The ghost-drift is lasting longer than the other times for the pilot pair.
Sensing a sadness that the drift is starting to disintegrate, Mako asks Raleigh, “Why do you wish the drift would last? You know you can say anything to me.”
“That wasn't you? It wasn’t me,” Raleigh gives her a quizzical look that says don’t mess with me.
“But…” Mako stops mid stride in the hall and lets several technicians by before continuing. “It’s still there and it’s not either of us. Who or what is it?”
Grabbing her hand, Raleigh points down the hall and the pair rushes back to the control room.
CONTROL ROOM - Pre-debriefing: 0443
“Marshall! Marshall!” Mako uncharacteristically yells to get attention as the pilots shove their way against the tide of the slowly emptying room.
Stacker lets a breath out, preparing for more bad news, then turns to the pair. “What is it Miss Mori?”
Mako blurts quickly, hoping to beat the end of the ghost-drift before reconnection, “Please, Sir! Let us reconnect to Danger! Mr. Becket and I have believe we weren't alone in the drift!”
“I’m not following you, Miss Mori. How could you two NOT be alone in the drift?” He rubs his temples. It’s been a long night, and Mako is usually so calm and calculated. She’s not one to joke, unless Mr. Becket is having a bad influence on her already?
The last fizzle of the drift fades in her mind, and her face falls just slightly for a second. She glances to Raleigh as he runs his hands through his hair, looking less sure of himself now. Gathering her composure she straightens and slows her words as she attempts to explain, “Sir. Mr. Becket and I both felt a sadness for the drift ending in the ghost-drift. It wasn’t either of us. We were both elated from the outcome of the mission.
“We wish to re-establish drift, now that the ghost-drift just ended. There is reason to suspect there may have been a third entity in the drift with us.
“I have no explanation for who or what it was. But this could be very important to know before our next mission, Sir. If there is another entity in the drift, how does this entity affect it? How did it gain access? And could it be a threat to our future missions?”
Stacker leans back on a terminal desk, pinches the bridge of his nose and closes his eyes. “You’re saying there was definitely another entity and it wasn’t just an echo in the ghost-drift?”
“Yes, Sir,” Becket answers this time trying to lend credibility to the crazy sounding situation.
An uncomfortable moment of silence goes by. All eyes in the room are on the station lead, awaiting his reply. His hand drops and he meets the pilot team’s gaze. “On the condition we have a science and psych team monitoring you two for any signs of mental attack or distress. A third entity in the drift could very well mean danger. At the first sign of trouble I want both of you to disconnect. Failing that we will disconnect you. Understood?”
In unison, they both eagerly shout, “Yes, Sir!” This time Mako grabs Raleigh’s hand and they hurry down the path now left open for them to fetch the required help.
The Marshall just shakes his head at the closeness of the pair already. He knew whomever she drifted first with would likely be an attraction for her, as it is for many pairs. Perhaps she’ll be a steadying influence on him, in return?
Smiling to himself, he’s pleased he’s survived long enough to see her return from her first mission. He was able to keep his promise, after all. Now, he’ll have to keep a close eye on Becket. Just like any other father would do to protect his precious daughter. His time may be limited, so he’ll make the best use of it.
DANGER’S COCKPIT - 0725
Most of the psych team, and Newt, are all crowded into the control room with the normal operators. Mr. Choi volunteered to pull a double shift for this. Mr. Gottlieb could not be torn from his prediction equations for something so statistically improbable.
One psych for each of the pilots is stationed beside them in the cockpit. Neural monitors attached to the pilots heads protrude from their helmets via wires and connect to the analysts data pads.
Mako gives the thumbs up after hers and Raleigh’s spinal clamps on their drivesuits are connected to the stabilizing arms.
Mr. Choi is heard over the loudspeakers and in the pilot helmets, “Initiating neural handshake.”
Danger’s automated voice says, “Neural interface transition initiating.”
Mako closes her eyes and lets the mash of images wash through her brain. This part always takes her breath away.
“Right hemisphere calibrated.”
It occurs to Mako that Raleigh always seems to register first.
Then a second later something seems to mentally reach out to her and they all hear, “Left hemisphere calibrated. Ready to activate the Jaeger. Pilot to Jaeger connection established.”
Mentally she whispers, ‘We’re here.’
A surge probes her brain and it drives her to her knees. The analyst is ready to pull the plug but she shakes her head and Raleigh speaks for her, “Whatever it is, is trying to communicate. Wait.”
She pants after the exertion from the search of her memories for particular items, but she feels an overwhelming happiness at their return.
“Recalibrating…” Danger’s voice speaks its mystery phrase and it makes Mako want to do a little victory dance.
Raleigh asks, “Who are you?” and Mako adds, “Yancy-san?”
Painfully slow Danger’s automated voice speaks as words are reformed from other words’ sounds if they are not already in the vocabulary, “Jaeger. I… am… Dan...ger.”
“But...How can this be?” Raleigh asks, out loud for the benefit of those monitoring.
“How...can...Raleigh...be?... Raleigh...is,” is the confusing reply.
Mr. Choi pipes in, “The neural network of the mech is off the scale!”
“How long have you been?” Mako takes a turn hoping to find the answer to the mysterious phrase from that mission long ago.
This time Raleigh is driven to his knees as his mind is queried. “An...chor...age. Communication...limited,” the computerized voice responds. Mako sees the memories that rush through her partner’s head and tears stream down both their faces from the communication, via images and something like pictograms, with a modicum of feelings coming through to them.
“Oh my God,” she mumbles as the realization sinks in. Raleigh is emotionally too caught up in the drift and Danger notes this, “Right hemisphere out of alignment.”
Mako reports, “Control. Danger is unable to find words for everything. She needs a bigger vocabulary database and more understanding to work from. But if I understand her right, she’s been with Raleigh since he lost his brother. She became self aware at that moment in the shocking jolt. Setting aside part of her own neural net processing, at cost to herself, to help him carry the load of her gigantic body when she saw his fears of overload.
“She only knows the emotions we are capable of and triggers them for us. Just like memories are triggered when random access of her neural net touches our brains.”
Focusing her attention on the mech now, “Danger, Raleigh is having a hard time. We’ll be back as soon as we can.”
She gives the signal to pull the plug and decouples from the stabilizer to rush over to her co-pilot. His eyes are closed and sinks into her arms. She knows he’s conscious though, because he buries his head in her shoulder and hugs her fiercely as he hoarsely croaks, “I wasn’t alone...”
In the control room the Marshall orders his best computer analysts to give him answers to this new puzzling predicament. “I need to know if Danger as an entity will be a problem to her crew. IF we are able to allow this insanity to continue, we'll want to communicate with her in a capacity that is not overwhelming or distracting. And I want a backup, immediately!”
Danger’s Neural Net: 0751
A lingering sense of completion and satisfaction stays with the pilots in the ghost-drift. This time Danger knows her crew will return soon and doesn't try to keep the connection alive for long. She's waited five years for Raleigh's return, what's a billion milliseconds or so to her?
With the end of the drift, Danger's neural net activity decreases dramatically and finally returns to inactive mode.
Mako's memo to Mr. Choi: 0801
"Mr. Choi, we have a sensitive soul in our newest known team member, Danger-san. In the ghost-drift she fussed about your backup method being invasive. Please just request one from her, if you can."
Mr. Choi's response to Mako: 0809
"How can I do that without being intrusive yet again? She refused communication with me outright! Any ideas would be appreciated. Forgive my rudeness to your gender, but why did SHE have to be a capricious woman?"
Mako's parry: 0811
"Mr. Choi, I heard you were the lady's man. You should know how to deal with her. But if you need a tip, try what she considers least offensive. Drifting?"
Mr. Choi's choice words omitted repost: 0816
"Ha, ha, Miss Mori. Very funny. NOT. How in the name of all that could possibly be holy in any religion am I supposed to get a backup via the drift?"
Mako's retort: 0817
"You're the computer expert. Mr. Becket and I can drift with her as needed. Can you add a port she can access during that time?"
Mr. Choi's all caps growl: 0820
"YOU WANT ME TO LET HER LOOSE IN MY COMPUTER SYSTEM?!?!?!? ARE YOU INSANE?!?!?!?"
Mako chooses not to respond to the rest of his messages: 0821
CONTROL ROOM: 0831
The Marshall strides into the room and taps his IT head on the shoulder. "Mr. Choi, you will refrain from pestering Miss Mori any further on the subject."
Looking up at the imposing Marshall, his eyes go wide and he vigorously nods, "Y... yes, Sir."
Within an hour Newt has helped Tendo rig up a contained backup port for Danger. Smiling at the report, Stacker thinks out loud to himself, "Amazing what a little pressure from the top can do for productivity."
DANGER’S COCKPIT: 1305
Feeling completely exhausted from the fight the night before and the emotional rollercoaster of communication this morning, drift initiates. Mako and Raleigh brace themselves for another difficult conversation with a sentient Jaeger.
The conversation is completely internal this time. Choi and Newt figured out how to add Siri's speech and search capabilities to Danger. It's still pretty rough, but not painfully slow or mentally taxing this time.
"What do you think of the changes the guys made?" Raleigh asks.
"Improved. Still limited." Danger responds in a combination of hers and Siri's voices.
"On our end it's much improved," Mako assures then requests, "Will you consider allowing others to drift with you also? This would allow you to have company more often and allow our staff to learn and to run diagnostics."
"Backup complete. Left decompression algorithm for Choi-san. His was inferior for data transfer," Danger's emotionless voice sounds like she's bragging. "Not Choi-san."
"You've adopted Miss Mori's style of address," Raleigh remarks.
"Mori-san's mind taught me of politeness," the Jaeger declares.
Mako brings up, "What about Gieszler-san?"
"Newt? Really?" Raleigh verifies a little surprised that Mako would think so well of the crazy little scientist. And she even turned him down for a date. Her admiration of him coming through the drift annoys Raleigh a little, but he tries to cut it off quickly. He still gets a 'seriously?' look from her.
The sudden silence from Danger in the drift is noticeable right away to the pilots.
"Danger, what's wrong?" Mako inquires, worried they may have offended the sentient presence joined with theirs.
Danger loathes disharmony between her pilots. As long as her pilots are in harmony, she's good with almost anything - including bashing in the skull of a Kaiju. The silent treatment was a warning. She's a little confused when Raleigh starts laughing his head off, but she resists pulling on his memories to understand.
Once permission was given from Danger for Newt and Ms. Lin to drift with the Jaeger, the dead-tired pilot couple begged off for need of sleep. Danger did not totally understand, but she saw their lifesigns not at peak and could be convinced of their need to recharge.
Danger does not find it easy interfacing with two new humans at a time. Both Newt and Ms. Lin are overwhelmed and have to step away to try again later.
RIFT IN THE PACIFIC - Triple Event: January 12, 2025
"You know exactly what you have to do. Danger is nuclear. Take her to the breach!" The command from the Marshall comes through their helmet speakers. Raleigh and Danger feel Mako's dread creeping in - first for her adopted father, then for Danger.
Raleigh brings up the uncomfortable question, "Danger, this means sacrificing yourself."
"The logic is sound," Danger answers with detachment.
On the other side of the breach, she gives an extra push to her crew as they evacuate and head back to their homeworld. As the drift continues in ghost mode, Danger asks, "Does this mean I go out with a bang?"
Raleigh huffs a laugh as he goes unconscious from the lack of oxygen.
HELICOPTER RIDE BACK TO SHATTERDOME: January 12, 2025
"The hardest part is learning to live with the silence..." Mako repeats Raleigh's sentiment.
He holds her closely, wishing he could bring back her father. But at least he can bring back Danger for her, thanks to Tendo and Newt's backups.
POST RIFT CLOSURE: January 13, 2025
Newt, Tendo and Ms. Lin worked tirelessly to install Danger on a simulator. It's the closest they can get to a Jaeger, until Crimson Typhoon can be repaired. Though that opens up a whole new can of worms - with the need for three pilots and Raleigh and Mako still mourning the former crew.
Mako compliments Newt's newest tattoo - the head and shoulders of Danger's old frame.
Upon drift, Mako and Raleigh are thrilled to be in contact with their Jaeger's entity again.
Danger is rather unhappy about being cooped up in what she calls "this tiny box". But after finding out her original body’s fate and that the rift is closed, she hushes a bit.
Despite Tendo Choi’s efforts to help restore her, Danger still refuses to trust him.
Instead of allowing Danger to delve into their thoughts, they try a less drastic method - offering up their own memories of the event. The method is a vast improvement over the memory probe - allowing the pilots to remain in contact longer since it doesn’t wear them out mentally and physically. Mako is still grieving, of course, and doesn’t stay long after sharing what happened.
Raleigh and Newt drift with Danger to get him initiated with the system and provide the link to the new mind for the sentient Jaeger. The young scientist’s brain is a very random place and Raleigh begs off shortly after drift is initiated. The pilot wonders if allowing Newt to connect with Danger was a wise thing or not.
But it allows Newt to bring in Ms. Lin. Danger not only now has company much more often, but she can stay online longer. When the drift is offline, the organic neural energy is unavailable for her to tap in and sustain sentience.
Danger does not wish to be duplicated beyond the necessary backups and isn't able to convince Newt to honor the request. He pushes, “But you’re the only one of your kind. Don’t you want others like you around?”
Danger responds with a harrumph, “How do you know I am the only one?”