Thursday, July 3, 2014


Last Week's Poll:
What should I name the fortress?

  • Winner: Kogr
Without further ado, then, may I present...
Orc Stronghold

Welcome to the shattered ruins of Kogr! Whatever this fortress's original name may have been, it has long been forgotten by its current inhabitants. Once a stout human fortress constructed atop a strategic hillock, now loose squads of orcs patrols its crumbling walls. Now rubble is all that remains of its former master's power and its once great strategic importance has no dwindled to an obligation, upheld by savages unfit for military discipline.

The history of the fortress called Kogr is an unsteady one. One of the dozens of human stronghold erected in this part of the world, the remnant of some petty war between neighboring fiefdoms, Kogr's modern history began when the Shepherd, his dark forces consolidated, marched on the keep. 

Despite Kogr's amble defenses, the Shepherd's quick and wicked cunning made the siege a short one. Before attacking, the Shepherd divided the majority of his forces – orcish infantry, plus several platoons of warg cavalry – into two even sections, one stationed to the east, one to the south, both well out of bowshot of the curtain wall. The first stage of the siege involved a team of giant artillery, hurling stones at a particular section of the southern wall (1). In addition to stones, however, the giants also threw the occasional "troll-bomb" – a round metal casing containing a furious live troll, designed to break upon impact – over the walls, instantly causing panic within.

With the defenders distracted by thrown stones and rampaging trolls, the second stage of the siege can progress. A team of goblin sappers burrows through the cliff face and beneath the western wall (2). Once they surface, a goblin strike team quickly dispatches the crew at gatehouse garrison (3) and open the gate. The gate open, the eastern section of orcs and wargs charge. As soon as the giants succeed in smashing the southern section of the wall, the second battalion of orcs and wargs charge. Within short order, the keep is taken.

Ever since the Shepherd took the fortress, it's never been repaired. The orcs were never designed for construction or masonry and so Kogr (its orcish name) has remained utterly ruined and dilapidated, only increasing that way over time. Even now, with the Shepherd long gone and an orc tribe squatting in the ruins, its less a defensible structure for its inhabitants and more an old habit.

The following legend corresponds to the above map.
  • A. Camp: Here the majority of the inhabiting orc tribe has set up camp. Since the Shepherd's fall, the orcs have upheld a superstitious fear of the fortress. Rather than seek shelter within Kogr's walls, they erected their tents and a simple palisade here. The palisade's nothing impressive, little more than sharpened sticks at this stage – hardly enough to keep roving warg packs at bay.
  • B. Chokepoint: Where once an iron portcullis spanned across the cliff walls, now only a pile of rubble and twisted iron stands. A small orcish garrison is still posted here and, in some ways, it still serves as a decent barricade, should the palisade be breached. The orcs have bolstered that barricade as best they can with more rubble and climbing over it can be treacherous.
  • C. North Keep: The north keep, thanks to the persistent shelling of giant stones, has more or less completely collapsed. Some small shell of it remains upright, but many of its upper levels are utterly unsafe to traverse within. At present, the north keep is wholly abandoned.
  • D. South Keep: The southern keep, on the other hand, managed to withstand the attack far better is largely standing. A smattering of orcs have taken up residence here, though there are plenty of chambers and wings they out-and-out avoid, considering how pervasive the Shepherd's influence still is. 
Tune in next Wednesday for more Worldblogger!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ruin + Stronghold

Last Week's Poll:
What should I worldbuild next?
  • Winner: Ruin or Stronghold
This week, I took the poll's advise and sketched out a ruin or a stronghold for today's Worldblogger. Because I'm an indecisive son of a bitch, I decided to actually combine them and build a ruined stronghold. There is, however, a little extra exposition that comes along with this one.

The map depicts a location (tentatively) set in a distantly future novel of mine, entitled The Hog King. On the surface, The Hog King's your typical fantasy fare; epic conquest, marching armies, political squabbles. The catch is that it's told from the perspective of orcs. The cheap elevator pitch is "What happened to all of Sauron's forces once he was destroyed?" 
In The Hog King, humanity has, in the distant past, thrown down a Sauron-esque necromantic evil, a great and terrible warlord with dark powers none can guess and armies of monsters marching at his command. To ensure these loosed horrors do not run rampant in the dark lord's absence, the various kingdoms of man take a sacred covenant and erect massive walls between the mountain ranges that encapsulate the Enemy's region. For hundreds of years, all the leaderless monsters – orcs, goblins, giants, trolls, wargs – have been fighting over territory and resources and, most of all, multiplying. 
Their homeland is now dotted with the ruined and ancient fortresses the dark lord once conquered. One of those fortresses was the subject of this week's map. Make sense? Then, behold!

The notion was, before the dark lord's rise, humans built many of the strongholds that could eventually come to dot his country. During the dark lord's rise, however, his armies laid siege and claimed each of the once-human fortresses within his realm. Once the humans were driven out, of course, they remained in terrible disrepair for as long as the orcish armies laired there. As orcs, I don't imagine they've any skill at masonry, stonework or architecture and, over the years and the various occupations, the building's state of repair has only gotten worse.

So, the fortress consists of a curtain wall, now shattered, resting atop a high cliff. It sported eight turrets along that wall, two of which have fallen or been utterly destroyed, three of which are in serious danger of collapsing and three of which are more or less intact. One section of the southern curtain wall was smashed by thrown stones from giants and never repaired, leaving a convenient slope of rubble and skeletons leading up to the gap in the wall. In many other locations along the wall have the thrown stones from the giants left vulnerabilities; most notably, at the gate.

The game is smashed, its portcullis gone and now only a pile of rubble and broken battering rams lay scattered across its choke-point. In order to access the fortress proper, its orcish garrison must clamber awkwardly through the rubble which, after a fashion, serves as an impromptu barricade in its own right.

All the fortress' outbuildings have been burnt or broken; none now remain except as smoldering beams or partial walls. Much of their original purpose has been utterly forgotten by the years. Some orcs continue to lair beneath them, most prefer the comfort of their own yurts.

A pair of stout keeps guard the choke-point but a heavy pelting of giant stones has all but collapsed the northern one. Orcs continue to lair in the halls and chambers of the more intact keep (I imagine their chief or leader holds power here) but the crumbling keep is often avoided or, better yet, used for some fouler purpose. Hmm. I'll need to think on that.

In the absence of the gates proper, the orcs have erected the best possible defense they know how – a palisade of sharpened sticks around the perimeter of their camp. Many of the orcs that currently lair here (around 300 in total number) find the place unnerving, with too much presence of their ancient master still lurking about, corrupting the place. These orcs dwell in animal-skin yurts outside the main fortress, while a decent number do erect their own tents within the fortress walls.

That seems a decent enough summary for the time being. Next week, I'll go into more specific details!

What should I name the fortress?

  • Kogr
  • Tvek
  • Qagga
  • Mzu
Next Week on Worldblogger: The Siege Begins!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Trouble with Clementine

I gave you a shot, Cherie Priest – I really did. And you done squandered it.

On the surface, Clementine by Cherie Priest looks like it can't miss. During a steam-powered revisionist Civil War, a southern belle Confederate spy is sent on the trail of dangerous escaped slave turned sky pirate Croggon Hainey, his all-black crew and his stolen warship, the Free Crow. Along the way, she's forced to team up with the pirate crew to achieve a common goal and they make the strangest of bedfellows.

In one respect, Clementine is successful. It achieves basically what it sets out to do – a safe, predictable adventure, set during a steampunk Civil War, that features mad inventions and airship chases. That's all there.

On the other hand, Clementine is a disatrous misstep and my final nail in the Cherie Priest, Clockwork Century coffin.

The premise of Clementine is so rich; there's a veritable multitude of issues and baggage and opportunities to unpack there. The two protagonist factions – Boyd, the Confederate spy and the all-black pirate crew – should ostensibly have such a fascinating power dynamic, considering all the different axis on which they're unequal.

  • A: Croggon is a freed black slave and Boyd is a wealthy, educated southern belle. According to the social mores of the time, she should consider him stolen property.
  • B: Boyd is a woman during the Civil War, while Croggon and his entire crew are all male. They may be black, but there was no reason they'd respect women anymore than white men of the time.
  • C: They're criminals and she's a law enforcement officer. This puts them at odds and, really, puts Boyd in power, as she's the authority to send them back to prison or slavery.
  • D: There are three pirates and one woman. While a formidable customer in her own right, Boyd couldn't possibly hope to defeat three opponents, should things dissolve into blows.
It's a fascinating pairing, right, and one that seems very deliberately chosen to create a morass of tension and character drama.

Except it doesn't. Ever.

The moment they meet, barring some very initial hesitation, both parties work flawlessly together. They both very quickly assess what the more pressing threat is, cooperate fully to overcome that danger and continue to see the benefits of working together the entire book. It's kinda mind-blowing how not a big deal these two groups of people working together are.

The differences between the characters are practically non-existent. We're talking about Scalzi levels of protagonist cloning; they might as well all be the same goddamn character, talking to themselves in fucking circles. Considering the incredible pains Priest goes to separate her characters across every gender, societal, racial and economic line, it's almost hilarious how none of that is ever brought up once.

I wanna know what the fucking Wire would make of this premise.

What's almost more offensive than that is, of the four different dynamics mentioned above, the only one that ever sees any play in the plot, is Boyd's plight as a woman. I'm certainly, certainly not attempting to downplay women's subjugation during as backwards a period as the Civil War – certainly not. But surely we can all agree that if Boyd lives in constant fear of being disregarded or treated unequally, the plight of the fucking escaped slaves maybe deserve a little plot attention, right?

Clementine is very clearly written from the prospective of a modern white woman, only comfortable with the kinds of social issues she's encountered in her life. These are the sections of the book that work best, character-wise – when Boyd is attempting to convince the patriarchy around her that she's a valid, worthwhile and capable operator, regardless of her gender. 

The thing is, I wouldn't know the first thing about writing a story from the perspective of an escaped Civil War slave. Me either, Cherie Priest – I'm just as white and even more privileged than you. But then, I didn't set out to write an entire goddamn book about it.

Beyond that, the plot doesn't get started until halfway through the book, contains entirely too many insipid scenes of booking passage aboard, talking to station agents and traveling to and from Kansas City, Louisville and a number of other flavorless, interchangeable cities in the middle of the country. It's poorly structured, uninterestingly written and worst of all, it's cowardly.

There's nobody who can squander a premise quite like Cherie Priest.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Garme Jurnalizm

Craigslist is a force for neither good nor ill, but rather both. At its worst, it sends me scams, like this one. At its best, it sends me great opportunities, like this one.

Yes, my endearing spambots, its true – I've begun some super minor league freelance video game journalism for a few scattered websites; HD Report and Gameverse, mostly. I have three articles published, at present, and even raked in a little cool pile of cash for them, but it's mostly exciting to see my name at the top of a legitimate new site.

Now, be not mistaken, any of you among the accredited journalists who read this blog. I am little more than an armchair enthusiast in both the video game and journalism fields. I've done little more than watch Jimquisition, Extra Credits, Penny Arcade and read a few scattered sites in the past few years. I have lots of loud opinions on video games and their mechanics, but don't expect to see too many of those. This is strict reporting and, evidently gets a fair amount of traffic.

Wanna see my articles? Well, here you go!

Nintendo Absent, Microsoft and Sony Duke It Out At E3

5 Indie Games I Desperately Want To Play But Probably Won't

No Female Assassins On Ubisoft's Watch

Nothing fancy, of course, but pretty cool! Expect more fascinating articles next week too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nahmer, City of the Panther

Last Week's Poll:
What's the predominant religion of the city?

  • Monotheism: 1 vote
  • Polytheism: 1 vote
  • Philosophical: 1 vote
  • Irreligious: 0 votes
A big tie this week. Hm. I think, for worldbuilding reasons, I'll choose "Philosophical." Thanks to everyone for voting this week and thanks to deadasdisco for casting the winning vote!

Without further ado...

Nahmer, City of the Panther! 

Welcome to scheming, furtive Nahmer, City of the Panther! To many of the merchants that visit her, Nahmer is no more than a bustling island trading hub, somewhere to trade in silks and spices and grain. To any who venture deeper than her outward market, down her twisting, unfriendly streets, they'll find a furtive and suspicious city, its inhabitants a worry-worn people prone to stalking and scheming like their namesake beast.

Nahmer is an ancient city, one of the oldest in this part of the world. Much of her history is tragic, a deep scar on the psyche of its citizens. Hundreds of years ago, Nahmer was ruled by an iron-fisted tyrant known only as the Autocrat. Very little practical knowledge of the Autocrat's reign remains today. Some say he was a sorcerer of great and wicked power, others claim a bloody-fisted barbarian conqueror. All that is agreed upon is the Autocrat's legendary cruelty. His military detained, beat and harassed the Nahmeri people. His taxes sapped the city's wealth. His greatest endeavor, to construct a massive wall, one hundred feet high, all around his city, spelled the deaths of thousands of laborers every year. From his unassailable island fortress, the Autocrat ruled Nahmer absolutely, without rival.

Much as the Autocrat's rise to power is shrouded in mystery, so too is his fall. One day, the citizenry of Nahmer could no longer withstand the yoke of the Autocrat's tyranny. They arose, their hundreds of thousands, in righteous anger against their overlord and, miraculously, threw him down. His fortress was leveled, his power smashed, all traces of his name or deeds eradicated by a vengeful populace. Ever since, evoking the Autocrat is the foulest curse a Nahmeri can utter and, ever since, the people of the city have conducted their own affairs.

Since the Autocrat's fall, the Nahmeri people have strived to distance themselves as strenuously as they can from his policies. The people now cleave religiously, fanatically, to the truest expression of democracy. Every week, every Nahmeri citizen visit a poll and casts their vote on any number of issues – taxes, wars, municipal affairs – every conceivable legislative issue within the city. Nahmer elects no representatives, posts no individuals higher than any others; they're too distrustful of authority. Their courts, likewise, are extremely egalitarian and considered some of the greatest in the world in which to conduct one's affairs.

To enforce these policies and, even more vitally to the people of Nahmer, to enforce the voting laws, the city employs a faction of secret police called the Panthers. From the ages of 17-20, every Nahmeri citizen serves as a member of this masked police force. For the three years of their service, the Panther exchanges their whole identity for complete authority to enforce Nahmer's laws. Garbed entirely in black, save their ivory masks, the Panthers are anonymous, ruthless and incorruptible.

Nahmer is a trade state, making the majority of its income on taxes, docking fees and business licenses from the merchants who come to ply their trades within the city's diverse markets. It has few internal industries and relies heavily on trade for food and other raw materials. Economically, they're devout socialists, doling out food, medicine and services to their people with equal and religious fervor. Nahmer has few citizens either extremely wealthy or extremely impoverished, valuing the individual as they do, forcing their middle class to dominate the vast majority of the population.

The Nahmeri view gods as little more than dictators. To them, bending the kneel in reverence and obedience to any higher power smacks too much of their time serving the Autocrat. Rather than a traditional religion, however, the Nahmeri uphold The Obligation, the name they give the cultural importance placed upon voting. To the Nahmeri, voting is not a privilege nor a right; it is a responsibility. A Nahmeri that would squander that responsibility, from neglect or apathy, is tantamount to a blasphemer in a more religiously minded culture. Indeed, such a crime is punishable by jail time and, with enough offenses, death. The Nahmeri take their free will extremely seriously.

As a people, the Nahmeri are private and distrustful. Centuries of living beneath the Autocrat's heel have bred a profound and unquenchable sense of paranoia into them, causing them to mistrust the actions of others. There is no enforced curfew, but the streets of Nahmer are unusually, eerily quiet after dark. Doors are locked, windows are barred and conversations are few. A dislike of foreigners is common among the Nahmeri as well. In their eyes, the other kingdoms, cities and empires of the world have all been cowed by their rulers and are therefore untrustworthy. A visitor to Nahmer would find few friends, no matter their intentions.

The following legend corresponds to the above map:
  • A. Freemarket: The island of Freemarket is an ocean of market stalls, vendors and merchants. Here, ships from all corners of the world congregate to trade their goods within sight of Nahmer's looming walls. Covered shore to shore in free enterprise, the markets are constructed on the uneven ruins of the Autocrat's compound, mostly unrecognizable now from the ravages of time and foot traffic.
  • B. Freewall: During the Autocrat's reign, he sought to construct among the highest, most impregnable wall this corner of the world had ever seen. Its original name forgotten, the Freewall still stands, more or less unchanged – one hundred feet high and twenty-five feet thick, though it was never completed. It was once covered with one hundred thousand carvings of the Autocrat's face, now replaced with an ever-shifting representation of every single face in Nahmer's population.
  • C. Seagate: The weakest point in all the Freewall, the Seagate is where ships sailing up and down the river, the Nahmoi, can exit onto the open sea.
  • D. Bay of Screams: It's said that, when the Autocrat was finally seized, he was chained to a statue of himself and dropped into the center of the Bay of Screams. Known to be several hundred feet deep at its deepest point, people still say the bubbles that continue to rise to the bay's surface are the tyrant's endless screams of agony.
  • E. The Vault of Grain: Here are all the city's food stores kept, to be distributed evenly amongst its citizens. The Vault is guarded greedily, with higher security than any bank, less someone attempt to redistribute the wealth themselves.
  • F. Bridge of Common Sense: For some reason, this particular bridge that spans across the Nahmoi, has become a hotspot of political and philosophical discussion. Every afternoon, hundreds of people gather here to make arguments, advance theories and debate the mysteries of the universe, ranging in education from professors to paupers.
  • G. Kahmud's Menagerie of Wonders: One of Nahmer's few true tourist attractions, the Menagerie of Wonders is a public park that houses many of the world's beasts – lions, elephants, peacocks, manticores, tigers, hippocampus. Kahmud's pride and joy are a mated pair of albino panthers, whom he believe brings the city good luck.
That's all for Nahmer, folks! Hope you enjoyed it!

Next Wednesday on Worldblogger:

What should I worldbuild next?
  • City, Town or Community
  • Major Geographical Feature
  • Ruin or Stronghold

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grimdark Fatigue

WARNING: The following blog post contains massive spoilers for last night's Game of Thrones finale. If you've neither read the books nor seen the show, you may wish to skip this week.

SECONDARY WARNING: I did very much enjoy the final episode, "The Children." It's marvelously crafted, expertly acted and (with a few little missteps – here's looking at you, Harryhausen skeletons) I don't necessarily know how else you could better represent the events of the book, the events that conclude A Storm of Swords.

Never before have I required a break from Game of Thrones this badly. The television show, mind – watching the show has really, really ignited my desire to re-read the actual novels. After watching the Season Four finale, I'm just emotionally drained, head-to-toe.

Watching the fantasy pendulum swing has been an interesting experience, growing up immersed in the genre. When I was a child in the 90s, "grimdark" fantasy world was just blossoming in the Song of Ice and Fire series, a series I was much too young for. No, I grew up reading Brian Jacques, R.A. Salvatore and, of course, Tolkien, where fantasy was pulpy, mythical and formulaic.

As I grew older, Ice & Fire grew in popularity and the aesthetic of a gritty, realer, more authentic fantasy experience grew on me like a fungus. Much of my early writing and D&D – particularly the story that would eventually become Cutthroat Ragtime – was influenced heavily by Martin, Lynch and Abercrombie's wave of gross, vile and profanity spattered fiction. These were shocking, brutal world, ripe with murder, rape and institutional cruelty. Ice & Fire, particularly, thrives from floating between tragedy after tragedy for its characters.

While I'd openly admit that A Storm of Swords is probably the best book in the series, I remember reading the thing to be an absolute slog. Everything was becoming bleaker and more hopeless and more desperate for the few remaining characters that struggled through the narrative. Thinking about all that happens in the book – Jamie's hand, Mormont's death, the Unsullied, Tyrion and Sansa's wedding, the Red Wedding, Joffrey's death, Tyrion's trial, Jorah's banishment, the Mountain versus the Red Viper, Lysa Arryn's death, the battle at the Wall, Tywin's death, the Hound's death, Shae's death – it's kind of ridiculous.

In the show, however, all of these events climax much, much more rapidly. There's no padding in between them. You slalom between shocking twist to shocking twist and, while all the scenes in and of themselves, are compelling and well-executed, you begin to be weighed down beneath the sheer tragedy and blood and gore of everything.

This also doesn't take into account the show's obsession with the more violent, sexual or scatological aspects of Martin's narrative. Westeros is a violent, cruel and disgusting place – absolutely it is, but it's also a world of wonder and complexity and nuance and all too often, the show chooses only to highlight what's mean or gross or raunchy about the world. There's a way to show texture without being vulgar and Martin does this expertly in the books; you want a good afternoon? Go fuck around this place for an hour or two. Actually, start someplace random, say, here, and in one hour, see where you end up. It's never, ever boring.

That's what I love about the books. The sex and shit and guts enhance that, but it's the goddamn depth that's what make those books so great. The depth of character, the depth of world, the depth of storytelling.

What I need now, from my fantasy, is a little more fun, a little more joy and a little more positivity, weirdly. I've spoken in this vein before and, ironically, the place I'm getting the most of that is from Scott Lynch, another pee, vomit and penis-laden fantasist. The missus and I are re-reading The Republic of Thieves and several of the play-within-a-play stuff was like a balm to our shellshocked consciences following the GoT season finale.

Also, it's maybe a good thing that my NaNo this year is a young adult fantasy epic about talking gorillas. Yeah, you heard me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Go Home, Screenplay, You're Drunk: Pacific Rim

Following in the footsteps of my international sensation "Scenes I'll Never Write In Screenplays," I've decided to start a new segment here on The Fabulist, wherein I take the basic storytelling elements of movies I enjoy or admire (usually big blockbusters) and attempt to restructure or slim them down into more understandable, more digestible versions thereof.

I'm calling it "Go Home, Screenplay, You're Drunk" and, for my inaugural post, I'm starting with a very popular movie from 2013, especially among the "Timothy's girlfriend" demo. That's right, it's time to do some unasked-for script work on:

So, spoiler warning, obviously.
The film opens in Tokyo, 2016. We follow a 10-year-old Japanese girl as she runs frightened and crying through the streets, pursued by an enormous, building-destroying monster. As she does, we hear voice-over narration from an unknown voice (Charlie Hunnam), explaining the film's basic premise; massive monsters, known as kaiju, started appearing out of a portal in the Pacific Ocean, attacking coastal cities. We were defenseless against them.

As the little girl hides down an alley, suddenly a massive robot appears, which the V.O. describes as a Jaeger – a weapon designed by humanity to finally start battling the kaiju back. We watch a brief, exciting tussle between machine and monster, while the child cowers beneath a dumpster. Finally, when the monster is defeated, the girl emerges from hiding and is summarily rescued.

Title drop.

Flash forward to the Shatterdome, the headquarters of the underfunded Jaeger progam in Hong Kong. Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), now an adult, works to repair on a decrepit old Jaeger by the name of Gipsy Danger. She's summoned by her superior, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), to report for physical compatibility training. As she hustles to the training room, we see her cross the Shatterdome, revealing its three massive Jaegers. Along the way, she briefly banters with the crews of Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha, the Chinese and Russian Jaegers, respectively, hoping today will be the day she finds a co-pilot for Gipsy Danger.

In the training room, Mako roundly defeats all her challengers in unarmed combat. Pentecost is not pleased, however, explaining that the purpose of the training isn't to best your opponent, but to anticipate their moves. He explains that piloting a Jaeger takes teamwork, requires a partner who's drift compatible and who shares some underlying experiences. Pentecost claims to have rounded up other survivors of that initial attack on Tokyo for her to train against, but none of them seem to be compatible with her. She's technically proficient, but very emotionally walled-off. This seems to give him an idea.

Pentecost is quickly accosted by a pair of scientists, Newton (Charlie Day) and Hermann (Burn Gorman), who present their competing theories about the kaiju's origin. Hermann explains the physics of the Rift and his theory that a properly placed bomb would succeed in severing the link between the dimensions. Newt's theory, however, is deemed substantially more dangerous – using the technology that allow Jaeger pilots to meld minds to drift with a kaiju. Pentecost dismisses this idea, tells Hermann to begin development on a bomb and flies off to Alaska to follow a hunch.

In Alaska, Pentecost unearths Raleigh Becket, a scruffy, partially crazed former Jaeger pilot, revealed to be one of Gipsy Danger's original pilot. Raleigh's exact past is kept mysterious, but he's offered a life rope and a chance to once again pilot a Jaeger. Raleigh is skeptical, claiming that no one on earth could possibly drift with him again. Pentecost says he's got someone in mind.

Pentecost and Raleigh arrive back at the Shatterdome and he's introduced to Mako and the other pilots. Upon returning, Pentecost learns that, against his orders, Newt went and drifted with the kaiju anyway. He explains what he learned – the kaiju are merely weapons, tools of colonization used by their intelligent designers in the parallel dimension. Claiming he could learn more, Newt is sent on a side mission; locate a man named Hannibal Chou, acquire a second kaiju brain and gather what intelligence he can.

After a short series of tests, Mako and Raleigh are proven to be physically compatible. During a dry run aboard Gipsy Danger, however, Raleigh loses his cool and Mako is given a glimpse of his flashback; during his last run in Gipsy Danger, Raleigh's brother Yancy was killed mid-drift. In this heightened emotional state, Raleigh nearly destroys the whole Shatterdome, but Mako manages to calm him down. Afterwards, they have a conversation about his past, about how there's a hole in Raleigh's mind that, with the tragedy Mako's also suffered, only she can fill. They talk about grieving and moving on and some real emotional shit.

Newt travels through the scummy streets of Hong Kong, seeking out Hannibal Chou. When he finally
locates the gangster, we learn a little bit about the kaiju black market and Newt must convince Chou to help the war effort by lending him a brain. Fortunately for Newt, there's about to be a kaiju attack – a powerful motivator.

Back at the Shatterdome, an alarm goes off – a double event! Two kaiju are coming to attack the city and all three jaegers are scrambled to defend Hong Kong. Crimson Typhoon, Cherno Alpha and Gipsy Danger all rush out to the bay's defense. The two more experienced Jaegers take point, while Gipsy Danger hangs back to defend the city. On account of their nationalistic rivalry, Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha have a difficult time working together and are nearly destroyed, but Gipsy Danger rushes to their air. In the ensuing melee, Crimson Typhoon loses one of its three arms and one of its three pilots. Cherno Alpha is also sunk, its pilots drowned but its rig more or less in tact.

Alone, then, Gipsy Danger must defeat both kaiju and save Hong Kong. Scene plays out pretty much the same as it does in the film.

Gipsy Danger is victorious, but there's no time to celebrate. According to Hermann's calculations, there's a triple event due any moment. While the crews hastily repair Crimson Typhoon and retrieve Cherno Alpha, Newt returns with a kajiu brain. When he and Hermann drift with the creature, they learn an important secret – the rift will only open for a kaiju. Meanwhile, Raleigh has a brief scene with the crew of Crimson Typhoon, telling them there's life after a drift partner is killed.

Gearing up, the two remaining Jaegers prepare to march towards the breach and deliver Hermann's bomb. Originally, Gipsy Danger attempts to claim the responsibility for the bomb, but Pentecost reveals that he can pilot Cherno Alpha alone and carry the bomb. He's revealed to be the man who rescued Mako, back in the day when the Jaegers only had one pilot. Mako begs him not too, saying the strain will be too much and he'll die. Pentecost disregards her and climbs into the Jaeger all the same.

Together, all three Jaeger move towards the breach. Two kaiju emerge and give them battle before they can arrive however. Crimson Typhoon manages to hold both of them off long enough for Gipsy Danger and Cherno Alpha to slip past, sacrificing themselves in the process. Before they can deliver the bomb, however, a Category 5 comes through the breach, the biggest kaiju we've yet seen. It summons the one surviving kaiju from Typhoon's battle back, which Gipsy Danger slays, tosses to Cherno Alpha and Pentecost leaps into the breach.

As Pentecost and Alpha fall between the dimensions, Raleigh and Mako do battle with the Category 5. Over the course of the battle, Mako and Pentecost talk briefly on the radio, about what he sees and the life Mako should lead now that he, her adopted father, will be gone. Eventually, Gipsy Danger defeats the Category 5 and they debate leaping in after Pentecost. Suddenly, however, the breach closes!

The shockwave destroys Gipsy Danger and ejects both pilots onto the surface of the ocean. They're revealed to both be fine and are rescued by incoming helicopters.

  • Mako is the protagonist, rather than another boring white American male.
  • Mako is devoid of troubling "I'll defend her honor" implications in the original.
  • The Australian rivalry is entirely removed because of its numerous plot-holes including, but not limited to: Who cares? A dog doesn't make you more sympathetic. How petty are you, random Australian tough guy, that you'd bully a fellow pilot over exactly nothing? Why the fuck doesn't Leatherback just destroy Striker Eureka after its EMP knocks the Jaeger out?
  • The Newt/Kaiju brain plotline doesn't include that weird "hive mind" subplot that randomly dead-ends.
  • The compatibility thing isn't just thrown away towards the end of the movie when we suddenly need to have Pentecost pilot a Jaeger.
  • Also, no fucking GLaDOS. I'm glad he got permission, I guess, but the whole idea's just creatively bankrupt. I like Portal, let's put Portal stuff in my movie too, rather than coming up with my own idea? Sloppy.
Thoughts? Complaints? Angry defense of del Toro? Leave 'em below!