Hey :) Just saw a swap au by a very talented artist (iacediai) and idk if you already know about it, but I'd loooove to read your thoughts! Have a nice day/evening/night!
Ahh! Yes! I’ve seen that post. It’s actually sitting in my drafts waiting to be queued, because I p much add things to my queue in batches of 100-200 about once a month. (Here’s a link for anyone who’s not sure what we’re talking about.)
First of all, A++ designs, I love them so very much. Loverboy Hunk and Sunshine Pidge are probably my favs, but I love them all.
I don’t have thoughts specifically about that role swap combination, but a while ago I saw pepplemint’s role-swapped!Lance art, and boy did that give me ideas. Specifically for a limited role swap AU where the only real *swap* is that Lance went to Kerberos in Shiro’s place.
- Lance and Keith trained under Shiro after graduating from the Garrison. They were rivals, not least of all because Keith and Shiro were so obviously friends that Lance felt ignored outside of training
- Shiro was originally supposed to pilot for the Kerberos mission but was in a car crash or something similar that injured his arm to the point he needed to have it amputated. This was, like, six months before launch, so at first the mission is just delayed–there’s no one to take Shiro’s place, and everyone at first is hoping that if the Garrison pays for the top of the line prosthetic maybe Shiro will still be able to go. (After all, they’ve already pumped so much money into this mission and into Shiro specifically.)
- But Shiro’s recovery is slow, and PTSD + reduced dexterity mean he just can’t fly at the same level as before. So the Garrison decides they’re going to find a new pilot and have Shiro train them, since he knows better than anyone what this mission is going to require.
- This is about the time the show would have started–one year after the original launch date. And the Garrison needs some gimmick for the media to “salvage” the mission from a PR standpoint. Shiro was literally the face of the Kerberos mission, and the public is more concerned about his recovery than the Garrison’s expedition (which is… you know, a good thing? But the Garrison cares about the publicity. They want the Kerberos mission to drive recruitment and all that.)
- So they go to the next graduating class of fighter pilots and say, “Hey, guess what? One of you is going to be the youngest solo pilot in history, and you’re going to go farther than anyone else has ever gone. Ready? Cool. Now duke it out for your spot on this crew.”
- (In more PR-friendly terms, obviously, but that’s the intent.)
- Keith and Lance are the two top contenders, so both get to undergo training with Shiro. They’ll both have the full training, just in case there’s another car accident or something, and the Garrison is running it almost like a reality show, getting the public invested in the Big Question of Who’s going to pilot the mission???
- The decision is ultimately Shiro’s, and he’s as pissed off about the spectacle of it as Keith is. (Lance, conversely, is absolutely loving the attention.) He doesn’t know what the public opinion is, and frankly, he doesn’t care. (It’s about 60-40 favoring Lance, but the Garrison bigwigs are split the opposite way, because Keith is Iverson’s golden boy the same way Shiro was–just a little less inclined to put up with bullshit.)
- Lance is sure Shiro’s going to pick Keith. Frankly? So is Keith. Both of them are shocked when Shiro picks Lance.
- Lance and Keith have a big fight after it’s announced, and they didn’t talk once in the last month before launch.
- It’s now about two years later than canonverse–Lance is 20 for most of the mission, but they launch when he’s still 19, purely for the headline “Teen Pilots Landmark Mission to Kerberos”
- The Galra still attack, and the disaster still goes down in history as pilot error.
- Pidge didn’t have to sneak into the Garrison–she entered openly a year before the mission launched, has her own crew, and is the top communications cadet in the Garrison. She wants to wreck shit when Sam, Matt, and Lance are declared dead, but Shiro talks her down. (He stayed friends with the Holts even after he was removed from the mission, and through him Pidge knows Keith.)
- So Pidge takes a week or two off from classes to grieve and to talk with Keith, both of them stoking the flames of their anger. Pidge doesn’t buy the official story and when she returns to classes she starts hacking the Garrison computers–secretly–looking for the truth.
- Keith, in contrast, fully believes Lance was at fault and blames him for killing Pidge’s family. He doesn’t think any of them survived, and he has no outlet for his anger, so he starts going on long flights into the desert–which is where he stumbles upon the Blue Lion’s cave.
- Hunk graduated along with Keith and Lance, having been Lance’s engineer as in canon. He spent the year/year and a half after graduation working on Garrison ships, but when Lance “dies” he quits and opens a restaurant/gets a job as head chef at a restaurant instead. He can’t stand working at the place that reminds him of his best friend.
- Shiro is a regular patron at Hunk’s restaurant, and the two are pretty good friends, all things considered. He knows Pidge and Keith distantly–Keith mostly as “Lance’s rival who’s actually a pretty cool guy” and Pidge as “Shiro’s friend who’s always on her computer looking at technical diagrams.”
- Pidge and Keith both wind up at the crash site in the desert as they do in canon. Lance has visible scars and a white streak in his hair, but he has a cybernetic eye and maybe a prosthetic leg, too, instead of the arm Shiro has. Keith and Pidge break Lance out mostly to get answers about the Holts, and once they have him, they kind of panic because, hello, they’re now fugitives.
- Keith calls Shiro and tells him exactly nothing except that Lance is at their shack in the desert. Shiro was at Hunk’s restaurant when he got the call, and Hunk overhears. He rips off his apron and demands that Shiro bring him along, so the five of them are once more all together in the Blue Lion’s cave when she chooses Shiro.
- Shiro still kind of thinks of himself as Lance’s mentor and it takes a while for them to get used to the changes. Because Shiro is still happy and mostly healthy and he wants to protect the younger paladins, Lance especially, but he can’t deny that Lance is far more suited to protecting the rest of them. He knows the enemy, he has practice fighting, he’s a scary good sniper and just as deadly in the heat of battle. Lance ultimately becomes the team’s leader, while Shiro acts as their emotional support.
- There’s also friction among the younger paladins–a much deeper rooted conflict between Keith and Lance than in the show, and Pidge’s festering resentment about the Kerberos mission (she knows it’s not Lance’s fault, but she and Keith fueled each other, so she can’t quite let it go). Hunk is 100% on Team Lance, so he initially doesn’t get along well with Keith or Pidge, and Lance just isn’t interested in repairing bridges other people burned for him. It falls to Shiro to play peacemaker and get them all on the same page.
And yeah, idk where the plot goes from there except more or less the same way canon goes, but there’s lots of angst. ^.^’