Roxie moved through the crowded hanger towards the main control room. She wasn’t sure why Pentecost summoned her. None of the jaegers were scheduled for use or tests and there had been no reports of kaiju. What’s more, if any of the pilots had needed her, they would have just contacted her directly - as they usually did. She had been enjoying a well-earned nap in her room after overseeing that day’s training with the cadets when Mako had knocked on her door and ordered her to come with her. It was rare to get much time to herself, especially with the upcoming mission and all the decommissioned jaegers being sent to Hong Kong, so she was a bit put out, to say the least.
She thought Pentecost had been out of his mind when he asked her to come to Hong Kong six years ago. At the time, she wanted nothing more to do with the Pan Pacific Defense Corp., happy to retire and try and forget her time as a pilot. But he had somehow convinced her not to leave. That she could play a vital role still. So, she transferred from Sydney to Hong Kong and spent her days training cadets, counseling pilots if needed, or tracking down someone’s favorite ice cream or liquor.
Pilot liaison, he had dubbed her.
“He’s leaving to retrieve the new pilot today,” Mako said, glancing over at the young woman as she stepped up to her side, pulling her shoulder-length red hair into a messy bun on the top of her head.
“Joy,” Roxie replied with zero enthusiasm. “Let me guess, he wants to see if we’re drift compatible.” Mako smiled slightly and shook her head.
“I think he understood that after the first time you fought over it,” she replied. “Though I still don’t fully understand. I want nothing more than to be a ranger.”
“Been there, done that. Not fond of the memories,” Roxie replied, catching the triplets in a rousing game of basketball. She tried to duck her head, lest they see her and convince her to join them after her meeting in the control room. She was horrible at it, but they still dragged her into a game whenever given the chance.
“Roxie!” one of them shouted. She glanced over, waving as she sped up. It was Hu shouting at her. “Got time for a game?”
“Not at the moment, loves!” she called back cheerfully.
“We’ll find you later!” Jin shouted.
“Sure,” Roxie said, before turning and rolling her eyes.
“You should just tell them that you do not like to play,” Mako said softly, though she was smiling.
“And break their hearts? I don’t think so,” Roxie said with a sigh. “Besides, the whole point of me being here is to work with the pilots. And do all the shite that you and the Marshal don’t have time to do.”
“I do not understand how you do it sometimes… I hardly see you as it is with all the work you do,” Mako replied as she glanced over at the Kaidonovskys.
“I still don’t understand why they make you nervous. Really, Sasha’s just a big teddy bear and Aleksis is lovely,” she said, waving at them. Sasha smiled warmly and waved back. Mako just sighed and shook her head.
“Are you ready for the new pilots? Two are coming in today,” she said, glancing over at the red-headed woman.
“Got everything lined up for their accommodations and such. Helps that I’m familiar with them,” she said.
“Ah, yes, you were stationed in Australia with the Hansens for several years,” Mako said. “I nearly forgot.”
“It’ll be good to see Herc again,” Roxie said, though a bit of strain entered her voice. Mako studied her but didn’t say anything. The closer they got to all the remaining jaegers and pilots arriving at the shutterdome - as well as the mission Pentecost had put together, Operation Pitfall - the more reserved and agitated Roxie became. Mako suspected it had to with what happened in Sydney, but she was too nervous to ask if Roxie wanted to talk about it.
She learned from experience that it was never a good idea to push Roxie too far on that subject. The normally bright and friendly woman would either shut down or lash out. Then lock herself in her room and only emerge when she had work to do. The Wei Tang brothers and Pentecost seemed to be the only ones that could talk her out of one of her moods even though Mako considered the two close.
They continued walking with Roxie studying the new Gipsy Danger as they passed by. She couldn’t believe they had rebuilt it in the time that they did. She was equally as curious as to whom they would get to pilot it. She knew Pentecost wanted to ask her, but she had made it very clear from the first day she arrived six years ago that she would never step foot in another jaeger. She also knew Mako was the next best candidate - depending on how well she could drift with whoever was meant to be co-pilot. But Pentecost wouldn’t allow Mako in a conn-pod, this was a well known fact. So instead, the young woman had been working with Roxie, the two going over all the promising cadets.
The two entered the main mission control room and Roxie came to a stop, watching as Pentecost stood looking at various status updates displayed on the screen.
“Thank you, Mako,” he said without turning around. “We’re bringing in a pilot for the Gipsy Danger in a few days, Williams. You’ll need to speak with him once he arrives. Help him settle.”
“Understood,” Roxie said.
“Mako says you’ve been helping gather various candidates for co-pilot,” he said, glancing at her.
“Been doing the best I can, considering I don’t know who it is,” she said breezily. “Apparently that’s on your orders.” Pentecost sighed heavily.
“This one… well. I may need to rely on you a bit more with him,” he said. “Though Mako will be his primary contact.” Roxie glanced at him, curious as to just who Pentecost was hoping to recruit. Rangers were a dying breed and there weren't too many experienced pilots still alive as it was.
“Worried you can’t convince him to come?” she asked, her face betraying nothing.
“I know I can. Once he gets here, he may need help acclimating,” he said. Roxie frowned slightly. “He hasn’t been in the program for five years.”
“And what makes you think he’s fit enough to return?” Roxie asked, confused. Helping new pilots acclimate wasn’t something new to her. She had done it with every pilot that had come through the shutterdome. She just wasn’t sure why Pentecost was being so cryptic. Almost as though he were tiptoeing around something.
“He piloted the Gipsy Danger before with his brother,” Pentecost stated simply. Roxie’s eyes widened as she turned to face him. “And he’s the only Mach 3 pilot still alive.”
“You can’t be serious,” she said, a face immediately coming to mind. She had never met Raleigh Becket, but as jaeger pilots were a dwindling kind, she was very familiar with those that remained and their backgrounds. She knew what the poor man had been through and was slightly horrified that Pentecost would even consider bringing him back in. Not with the memories he was sure to take into the drift.
“Very serious, Williams,” he said, not looking at her.
“Are you sure about this, Marshal? You know what he’s going to bring into the drift. Is it worth inflicting that on someone else?” she asked. She blinked as her own horrible memories flashed before her. shoving them aside. Now was not the time for them.
“It’s my decision, not yours, Williams. And he’s the best to pilot Gipsy Danger. Do I need to remind you that he’s only one of two pilots who has controlled a jaeger on his own?” he said sternly. Roxie knew she was fighting a losing battle.
“Very well. I’ll do what I can to help when he arrives… should he need it,” she said, resisting the urge further argue.
“Good to see we have an agreement,” Pentecost replied. “I’d hate to see all those courses on psychology and counseling I paid for go to waste.” Roxie narrowed her eyes at him. Of course he’d hold that over her.
“May I remind you-”
“Sir, the Hansens are in the staging area,” Mako said, stepping up to them and interrupting Roxie before she went on a tirade. The Brit seemed to be the only one brave enough to take on the Marshal. It often did not end pretty.
“Good. Officer Williams will see that they are situated. I need to leave,” he said, returning to the status updates. Roxie stared at him a moment.
“I’ll be seeing to our guests, then,” Roxie replied curtly as she turned and walked out of the control room. Huffing, she made her way down to the jaeger staging area, Mako following behind her.
“Do you not want Becket here?” she asked. “I’ve read the reports and he’s-”
“It’s not his abilities I’m concerned about, Mako. I know how good he was. It’s those goddamn memories he’s likely to take into the drift with him,” she said, pulling her tablet out of her pocket and calling up all the information on the Hansens’ and their accommodations. “It could put the team at risk unnecessarily.”
“But, the Marshal seems to think he can handle it,” Mako said, furrowing her brow.
“The Marshal can kiss my arse,” Roxie grumbled. “I’m here to keep these pilots safe and alive. If he’s not going to take my advice, then the blood is on his hands - not mine.”
“He wouldn’t try to recruit Becket if he didn’t think it would work,” Mako replied matter-of-factly. Roxie stopped and looked down at her.
“Forgive me for caring about the well-being of the people piloting giant, mechanical death machines,” she growled. Mako jumped slightly. The taller woman shook her head and immediately her whole countenance changed and softened. “I’m sorry, Mako. It’s not your fault. Just… this mission and everything…”
“I know, Roxie. If you want to talk about it later, we can,” Mako replied, her worry evident on her face. Roxie straightened her shoulders and smiled briefly.
“Thanks, but I’m fine,” she said. “And I need to get to the Hansens.” Mako nodded and started off in another direction, though she kept glancing back at her. Roxie quickly made her way to the staging area, noting that the Eureka Striker was already being loaded into its landing bay.
“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” a familiar voice said. Roxie glanced over at the father and son and couldn’t help but find herself smiling. She had always liked Hercules Hansen, even though they had left things on a bit of a rough patch when she transferred to Hong Kong. He had taken her under his wing when she was but a rookie pilot first stationed in Sydney. Everyone back home had thought she and her brother were mad when they decided to leave Britain and join the Jaeger Academy, but Herc had been more than happy to teach them everything he knew.
“It’s good to see you, Herc,” she said, stopping in front of him. “Really.”
He studied her a moment and grinned before pulling her into a hug. Roxie’s eyes widened, but she found herself returning it, albeit slightly stiffly. She still wasn’t so used to the contact. Not anymore.
“I’d say you look about the same as you did when you left six years ago,” he said, letting her go and studying her. Roxie blushed slightly and looked down.
“I doubt that,” she said, glancing over at the tall, young man standing next to him with a bulldog. While she was had seen pictures and knew how Chuck looked now, it was still a bit of a shock to see the once annoying teen who followed her and brother around all grown up.
“I hardly recognize you, Chuck,” she said, smiling. She stepped over and hugged him as well. He had been a bit on the obnoxious side, but she still had a soft spot for the kid.
“Dare say I’m bigger than you now… and not a kid anymore,” he said with a smile and a wink, causing her to chuckle.
“I think part of me will always think of you as that skinny tyke that followed Jamie around like a puppy,” she replied.
“Here I thought he was following you around,” Herc said, his eyes twinkling.
“I was not,” Chuck retorted as he frowned at his father, suddenly seeming every bit the whiny teen he had been despite his size.
“And I’ll tell you what I told you then - still too young, mate,” Roxie said. Chuck flushed slightly and he turned to look back at her.
“Ah, but isn’t age just a number?” he asked. Roxie swatted his arm playfully.
“Still trying to master flirting, I see,” she jested. “Follow me. I’ll get you sorted.” She turned on her heel and motioned for the two men to follow her.
“How you been?” Herc asked as they walked.
“Doing well,” she replied, maneuvering in and out of workers as they made their way to the residential wing.
“Seems Pentecost found the perfect job for you,” Herc commented. Roxie glanced at him and nodded.
“It’s a good fit. I like looking after the pilots. Keeping them in order and the like,” she said. Herc chuckled.
“Never thought I’d see the day that you were in charge of keeping pilots in order. Not from the hellion you used to be,” he said.
“I wasn’t that bad,” Roxie replied, frowning slightly.
“You were and you know it,” he said.
“Well… I’ve grown up since then. Comes a time for everyone when they need to put reckless things aside and safety first,” she said matter-of-factly. Herc glanced over at Chuck, the two a bit surprised to hear such words. Was this really the same Roxie Williams? “Here we are. You’ll be here Herc. And Chuck, you’re right next door. I'm just down the hall.” She turned to face them. “You can go check on Eureka when you’re settled. If you have any problems, contact me at any time.”
“Thanks. I’ll find you for supper, yea?” Herc said. Roxie nodded and smiled.
“See you then,” she said before turning and walking down the hallway towards her room, looking down at her tablet.
“Since when did she get so serious?” Chuck asked. “Here I was excited to see her again. Thought she could teach me a few things or go for a drink. But now… safety first?” He looked over at his father, perplexed. Herc was silent a few moments before sighing.
“Reckon I had a bit of something to do with that,” he said, looking a bit crestfallen.
“What did you do?” Chuck asked.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s all in the past,” Herc said, walking towards the door to his room. “I’ll see you at dinner. Bit tired from the trip.”
Chuck watched as his father shut the door behind, scowling. Once again, his father shut him out. But he was used to it by now.
“Come on, Max. Let’s get settled,” he said with a sigh.