i love the idea of jack and gwen being paired together first, drift compatible and totally terrifying in action- and kind of trigger-happy? like i’m thinking more along the lines of the way they are in miracle day, ruthless and selfish and brilliant together and caring so painfully deeply in a strange and indescribable way about one another. they’re in this insanity together, they’re both addicted, it’s what they do- it’s what defines both them as a team and both of them on a personal level. my god, they love it- and my god, they’re terrifying.
but they get cocky and they forget that what they do isn’t a game, it’s as real as the crisis that the world’s facing- they begin to underestimate the threats, they begin to take more risks, they begin to forget just how fragile their lives are inside that hunk of metal.
and in half a second in the middle of a routine (as routine as these things ever are) battle the left half of the jaeger is totally gone and gwen is gone
and jack can’t process it at first because everything he’s experiencing is the furious speed of gwen’s last moments, they’re still in the drift - there’s her mother and her father and then rhys and anwen, little anwen, and the whiteness of the shock and fear and searingly sudden pain, and it’s like being hit in the chest for both of them simultaneously because gwen is realizing that everything she ever was and ever wanted to be is going to disappear in the slightest of moments
and her last thought is a furious white-hot “i love you” and an attempt to try and mentally shove jack out of the drift so he can by some miracle survive
jack drags himself back to civilization in a crippled jaeger that stops functioning almost the moment he makes it and he just. stops and comes close to losing his hold on life in the same way raleigh does
rhys despises him when he comes back alive and gwen doesn’t. he despised jack before, when he was the person pulling gwen away from the normality and the safety of civilian life and into this insane world of moral ambiguity and danger and the rushing high of adrenaline, got her addicted and never looked back until she was gone
jack has Serious Guilt Issues over this, and the fact that he feels responsible (literally any au ends up with jack with some form of survivor’s guilt it’s inexorable)
jack gets a job on one of the military bases and meets rex, the older pilot who’s brought in with a younger candidate, esther. rex takes a shit ton of risks in battle and jack sees rex making the same mistakes he makes and tries to warn him out of it but rex, typically, doesn’t listen
esther is also hardcore as hell honestly esther as a jaeger pilot would be a force to be reckoned with
vera is the base doctor and she sees rex so much that she grudgingly starts to care about him
vera’s also a biomed engineer and helped conceive the two-pilot drift system/was one of the people at the forefront of the technological push to deal with the original kaiju attacks