Fanfiction Fridays: Brand New Empire by pyrodynamo

“The press storm’s just about as bad as I’d imagined,” Herc said, when he visited. “You’d think they’d at least wait till the both of you are out of medical.”

“They’re asking us to consider ambassadorship to the reconstruction project,” Mako said. For someone who’d handled hours of interviews she was holding up extremely well; most of the time Raleigh just tried to stay both vertical and conscious.

“I got the same offer,” Herc said.

Raleigh looked up. “Are you taking it up?”

“I’m thinking about it,” Herc leaned back a little more in his chair. “It’d do a lot of good, I think, and especially since—”

Herc stopped. Some days Raleigh felt like he was looking in a mirror again, when grief sat in his gut like a solid thing, when it roosted under his ribs and clawed through his throat when he tried to breathe. He saw it in Mako’s eyes in odd hours, woke up to the sound of her stuttered gasps and remembered.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Raleigh said.

Herc breathed out hard, and shook his head. “This is exactly what I mean. It’s good to keep busy now, and— if I’m in the rebuilding I want to get up to my elbows in it. I wanna see some good.”

Raleigh glanced at Mako. He’d pushed his bed close enough that their knees would touch if they sat face to face on the sides, the way they did sometimes at night. It was a little strange knowing that in a few more weeks they’d never see the walls inside the Shatterdome again.

“We could do a lot of good,” Mako said.

Pacific Rim is one of those movies that might be a little cheesy, but the cheesiness factor doesn’t detract from how good the characters are. There’s a prequel comic and there will be a sequel at some point down the road, but the comic largely covers how the Jaeger program started and there aren’t too many details about the sequel yet. Because Pacific Rim was the movie that came up with the concept of Drift partners, what I’d really like to see is more stories that focuses on the characters and their relationships. And fortunately, a lot of fanfic does focus on just that. Enter today’s fanfic rec: Brand New Empire.

Although Pacific Rim ended with the Breach successfully closed, many parts of the world had been completely destroyed by the kaiju. This fic picks years after the events of the movie and follows Raleigh and Mako as they help with rebuilding not just their world, but their own lives. (It doesn’t focus on the side characters, but we also get little asides about how they’re doing.)

raleigh makoRaleigh is our narrator, and he’s the more interesting choice here—we already know that the last time his world was destroyed, Raleigh ended up in the middle-of-nowhere, Alaska, going through the motions of life until Stacker Pentecost found him. Of the two, Mako is the more driven, and Raleigh follows her to New Tokyo (called Kibou, meaning “hope”) and keeps house as he figures out what to do with his suddenly kaiju-free life. Eventually, he starts helping to redistribute rations through the community, and in so doing, starts to mend his own wounds.

pyrodynamo perfectly captures Raleigh’s inner monologue and his confusion and his grief, but they also do a great job with the Raleigh and Mako relationship. Even though they no longer have Drift technology, Raleigh and Mako act like they never left their neural bridge. They’re perfectly in tune with each other, they seem to know just what to do to cheer each other up, and they have each others’ backs, whether it’s going up against a hungry news media or just teaching the local children how to fight—as if, somehow, they’re still living out of the back pockets of each other’s minds. For all that Brand New Empire is about rebuilding, there’s a very peaceful, very domestic feeling to the story, and it’s a perfect, calm epilogue to an explosive movie.

You can find Brand New Empire here on the AO3. It’s only about 5k, so it won’t take you too long to enjoy!

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