Word Count: 3,563 words
Posted: February 28th, 2019
"Major Hicks!" said Nick as he greeted his old friend, the surprise in his voice evident. Very rarely did the Major visit them personally in HEAT Headquarters. "To what do I owe the honor?"
Major Anthony Hicks glanced around the lab as he walked in further, carrying a folder, which Nick presumed was full of pictures of some kind. "Business as usual, Tatopolous," he said, smiling as he approached. "Thought you and your crew might be interested. I've got news of Baragon causing some trouble."
"Ugh, Baragon?" Randy groaned, rolling his eyes as he leaned back in his office chair and cradled the back of his head in his hands. "No offense, Hicks, but isn't that sort of thing below a team of our talents?"
Nick flashed his friend an annoyed glance. "While my colleague is, as usual, lacking anything resembling tact, he does have a point, Major. Since when do you come to us for something as common as a Level 2 kaiju roaming around the countryside?"
"This isn't the countryside, Worm Guy." Hicks pulled out a couple of photos out of the folder and tossed them out onto the nearest table. They were satellite thermal scans.
* * * * *
"That's why I called Hicks, in the hope that he'd send you guys," explained Dr. Glenn Bowen as the helicopter flew high over the Antarctic wasteland. He, along with Nick, Elsie, and Craven, were going to investigate an area visited by the subterranean reptile as Randy and Monique stayed aboard the Heatseeker. "In all my years of research, I've gotten to know a lot about Baragon, but this recent behavior has thrown me completely for a loop."
"Well, no kidding," Elsie said. "Baragon has never been recorded going anywhere near subzero temperatures. He always stays near volcanic regions."
"Exactly, baby," said Dr. Bowen, turning his attention to the redhead. "I knew you were as smart as you were beautiful." He flashed her a flirtatious wink.
Elsie stared at him, blinking, clearly disturbed by the advance. Craven glared at Bowen stone-faced, personally offended by the attempt. Nick just sat there awkwardly for a moment before attempting to diffuse the tension.
"Uhh, at any rate, we need to figure out what's going on," he said. "If something is causing kaiju to veer away from their usual behavioral and migration patterns, it could potentially prove disastrous for any major metropolitan areas they might wander into."
"Exactly," Bowen said, shrugging off his failure with Elsie. "We've gotta figure out why Baragon is here. It can't be food. There are animals here, sure, but not enough to draw him all the way from Japan. And it's far too cold here for him to have just wandered here by chance."
"Maybe something called him here?" Elsie mused.
"Like what?" Craven asked.
"Well, there's where he made his entrance," Nick announced, gesturing out the window. The other three looked out to where he was pointing, quickly spotting the monster-sized hole in the ground. "Take us down!" Nick instructed the pilot. "But don't land! We want to be able to make a quick getaway if Baragon shows up!"
"Yes, sir," the pilot responded, lowering the chopper towards the tunnel.
"Yeah, this is definitely his tunnel," Nick said. "You can see where he used his heat ray to melt through the ice."
"But it still doesn't make any sense," Elsie said. "This would be like finding Ebirah in the Sahara!"
"If only there was a way we could investigate the tunnel he made," Bowen said. Nick nodded in agreement.
Craven looked nervous. "Nick, please don't tell me you want to send N.I.G.E.L. into the tunnel."
Nick shook his head. "No, Mendel. We already know Baragon's here. Getting N.I.G.E.L. smashed again won't help us figure anything out."
Suddenly, a mighty roar echoed from within the tunnel, ice and snow shaking. A huge shadow began to rise from underneath the ground. The four scientists watched as the reptilian predator known as Baragon emerged from his tunnel and climbed out onto the icy tundra. With another roar, Baragon shook the snow from his body and looked around, squinting in the bright light of the Antarctic sun. His large ears picking up the sound of a propeller, he glanced upwards, instantly spotting the research helicopter. Not quite yet ready to hunt prey but still intrigued, he began to approach the chopper on all fours.
"Alright, let's get back to the Heatseeker," Nick said.
"Yes, sir," said the pilot as he turned the helicopter around and started to head back to shore.
* * * * *
Monique Dupre watched in disgust as her comrade downed a snack sized bag of Doritos. "Unbelievable," she said, crossing her arms. "Is there no circumstance in which you do not eat?"
"Hey," Randy said, his mouth momentarily half full before he swallowed his food. "I eat when I'm nervous, okay? Kaiju acting up, all out of character like this? Usually doesn't bode well."
"Yes, when you're nervous," Monique mocked. "And when you're calm. Or when you're tired. Or excited. Or bored. Or angry. Or happy. Or sad. Or---"
"Yeah, yeah, I get the point," Randy grumbled, tossing another chip into his mouth. Just then, the radio fired up.
"Randy! You there?" Nick's voice.
"Yeah, I'm here!" Randy quickly sat up, sending his bag of Doritos to the floor. "Aw, damn," he cursed before picking up the radio. "I'm here, Nick. What's up?"
"We're heading back to the Heatseeker with Baragon in pursuit! Get the ship going so we'll be out of his range by the time we land!"
"You got it, boss!" Randy began to get the engine started, when a 'ping' suddenly came from the radar. "What the...?"
Monique checked the equipment, her eyes widening. "...A kaiju is approaching the shore."
"What?!" Randy asked. The engine starting, he grabbed the radio again. "Nick! Nick, buddy, answer!"
* * * * *
"A what?" Nick asked, trying to hear Randy's message through the static of the radio.
"A kaiju!" Randy repeated. "A kai--- headed right for--- aragon! And --ccording to the--- looks like Bara---"
"Randy, repeat that!" Nick tried. "Answer me! Come in! Over!" Frustrated, he put the radio back in place. Turning to the others, he told them "Brace yourselves. Something's headed our way."
"What's headed our way?" Craven gulped.
"I'm not sure, I couldn't get a clear answer," Nick said. "But whatever it is, hopefully it and Baragon will distract each other long enough for us to get out of the way."
* * * * *
The Heatseeker was in view by now. It had gotten a fair distance from shore, but was still within Baragon's leaping range. The helicopter was just about to begin its landing approach, when whatever creature was approaching began to touch the surface, its swimming sending waves in either direction in its wake, shaking the Heatseeker back and forth. Just as Baragon was about the reach the edge of the ice, the unknown beast leapt up out of the water, soared high through the air, and landed behind the subterranean reptile.
* * * * *
Everyone aboard the helicopter and the Heatseeker all stared in silence, dumbfounded by the sight before them.
Elsie finally broke the silence. "What the hell am I even looking at?"
* * * * *
As Baragon turned to face the new presence behind him, even he appeared to be confused by what he saw. The creature standing before him was... another Baragon!
But although this new Baragon looked almost exactly as he did, there were still a few notable differences. Instead of a short, curved horn between its eyes, the new Baragon had a large, long spike, reminiscent of a narwhal's horn. And while this Baragon lacked the large ears of the original, it instead had two walrus-like tusks jutting from its upper jaw. This new Baragon, somewhat grayish in color, was larger than Baragon, but only slightly. With the new creature on its hind legs and Baragon on all fours, the two beasts eyed each other carefully and began to circle one another, letting out the occasional growl and roar.
Suddenly, Baragon leapt into the air, ready to attack this new creature. While he could sense that this beast seemed to be another of his kind, something about it also felt very off. Unnatural. As such, he would not allow it to exist any longer. Just as he was about to strike, the new Baragon quickly spun around and smacked Baragon with its tail, striking him dead center in his face and bringing him down to the ground with a thud. He was quickly back up and lunged forward, tackling the new beast and sending it toppling onto its back. Climbing up onto the monster's belly, Baragon was about to unleash a point-blank blast of his heat ray, only to be punched in the face by the creature's clawed hand, sending Baragon to the ground. The new creature returned to its hind legs and lunged forward, but Baragon lashed out with his own tail, sweeping the monster's legs out from under it and sending it back to the icy ground.
* * * * *
"What the hell is that thing, Nick?" Monique demanded as she and Randy greeted their teammates as they exited the helicopter.
"How should I know?" he asked, looking back at the two monsters as they fought. "I saw it for the first time at the same time everyone else did!"
The new Baragon cried out as Baragon rammed his snout horn into its stomach, knocking it backwards.
"That is just Baragon with tusks, right?" Randy asked. "I'm not seeing things, am I?"
"Maybe that's why he's here in the Antarctic," Elsie theorized. "He sensed another member of his species."
"What, like a mate?" Randy asked.
"Clearly, it's more of a rival," Craven said, giving a brief sideways glance to Dr. Bowen.
"Sexual dimorphism, perhaps?" Nick suggested. "Like the MUTOs. Maybe this new Baragon is a female?"
"Or maybe it's a male and the old Baragon is a female," Elsie countered.
"I just don't understand it," Dr. Bowen said, shaking his head in disbelief. "After all these years of researching Baragon, not to mention eyewitness testimony and all the times kaiju have appeared on Earth... How has nobody ever seen this thing before?"
* * * * *
The new monster cried out as Baragon managed to bite down on its neck, sinking his teeth into its flesh. Displaying its superior strength, the aquatic Baragon picked its earthly counterpart up by his neck and spun around, finally dislodging Baragon and sending him crashing to the ground. Growling in anger, Baragon lifted his head and unleashed a crimson blast from his mouth, blasting the mimic creature in the stomach and eliciting a painful cry. Baragon advanced again, only to have the tail of the enemy beast slammed into the side of his head, knocking him aside and stunning the underground monster.
The strange Baragon approached and managed to snatch Baragon in its claws. As Baragon groggily struggled, the new creature lunged forward and sunk its large horn into his shoulder, drawing blood and causing a loud shriek of pain. Withdrawing its spike, the new beast was about to stab again when Baragon unleashed his heat ray into the monster's face. Its flesh smoking, the new monster stumbled back, screeching and clutching its face. Rearing up onto his hind legs in order to cope with his wounded shoulder, Baragon approached his aquatic twin, ready to attack. Baragon quickly lunged forward, but his doppelgänger managed to grab him by the head, holding him tight. The new monster began to turn and, lifting Baragon up off his feet, started to move in circles, spinning Baragon around by his head. The subterranean reptile shrieked in frustration and soon dizziness as he was twirled around again and again, until the new Baragon finally released him, sending him hurtling through the air. The group aboard the Heatseeker watched as Baragon soared away from his foe, crashing into a nearby mountain, causing thousands of tons of ice and snow to tumble down on top of him, burying him underneath.
* * * * *
"A newly birthed creature?" Nick asked, pondering Randy's suggestion.
"Yeah!" the young man said, nodding. "I mean, that would make sense, wouldn't it? Why nobody's ever seen this thing before?"
"While it would make sense, I don't think it does in this particular scenario," Dr. Bowen said, shaking his head at Randy's theory. "Look at that monster. Its physique seems just as matured and developed as Baragon's, not to mention its superior strength... Nothing about it suggests an adolescent of any kind. It's literally as if this thing just appeared out of nowhere, fully grown."
* * * * *
The aquatic Baragon glanced around at the icy tundra surrounding it, feeling tremors surging through the ground. It knew its earthly counterpart had retreated into the depths, but that he was not permanently gone. Its suspicions were proven correct as Baragon exploded from beneath the ice and snow, leaping out and tackling the sea monster to the ground. The two reptiles bit and clawed at one another until the sea beast lunged forward, stabbing Baragon with its long snout horn. Baragon toppled back, screaming as his blood was spilled once more, though the wound was nowhere near as deep this time. As the new creature advanced, Baragon lashed out with his tail, striking the beast across the face and causing it to stagger back. The second Baragon quickly recovered, but the original specimen took aim and unleashed a stream of his heat breath, blasting the newcomer in the face. The sea monster shrieked, the flames once again scorching its flesh.
Given a momentary reprieve, Baragon rolled over onto his stomach and got back on all fours. He was tired, torn, and bleeding. He knew he should probably pull back, but this unnatural... thing... had to be eliminated. Just from its scent, Baragon knew that this creature was not meant to exist. He would rest only once this beast mimicking his appearance was put out of its misery once and for all. Summoning all the strength in his legs, Baragon charged.
Its vision restored well enough to continue the fight, the second Baragon narrowed its eyes, glaring at the first. Despite its superior strength and size, it was starting to wear down, its subterranean self a far more tenacious foe than it was expecting. It knew that if this fight went on for much longer, than it would have just as good a chance at losing this fight as it did at winning it. Curling its upper lip into a snarl, the beast lunged forward, ready to put Baragon down once and for all.
The two beasts collided, their impact shaking the area as they tore and bit and clawed into one another. Baragon's teeth and horn gashed into the sea monster's skin. The creature's tusks gored Baragon's flesh. Their blood fell from their bodies, staining the pure snow red all around them. The underwater monster managed to push Baragon away just far enough for it to bend down and bolt forward, ramming Baragon's gut with its head. Baragon soared backwards, crashing near the icy shore. The other creature charged, flexing its claws as it readied itself to tear its brother apart. Baragon quickly got back on all fours and fired blast after blast of his heat ray, zapping his counterpart all around its body, hoping to find a weak spot. The creature screeched in pain as each blast hit, but managed to continue on. Baragon rose onto his hind legs just as the other predator reached him, and they once again began biting and battering each other. The water monster swung its fist hard, slamming it into Baragon's temple. Baragon fell to the ground, even closer to the water's edge now. Baragon howled in shock as his tail flopped into the icy water, then quickly withdrew it. The larger Baragon advanced, holding its arms open, ready to descend upon the underground monster and plunge its tusks and horn into his flesh.
Baragon saw an opening and he took it. As his larger counterpart raised its head to bring his spiked protrusions down upon him, Baragon leapt up and sunk his razor sharp teeth into the gray creature's throat. The sea monster's eyes widened as it felt Baragon bite down hard, his teeth tearing into the aquatic beast's flesh. Baragon didn't let up for an instant, biting and tearing more and more. The underwater monstrosity let out a gurgled cry as it tried to dislodge Baragon's jaws but only succeeded in spilling more of its own blood, splashing it across Baragon's face, who ignored it as he tore into his opponent. The sea monster made one last attempt to reach out and snatch Baragon, but the subterranean reptile threw himself backwards and landed on his back. Reacting quickly, Baragon lowered his head so that he faced his mutant twin and fired off a powerful blast of his fiery ray. The blast zeroed in on the gaping wound in the sea creature's throat, punching through the back side of its neck and instantly ending what remained of its life force. Baragon snarled with satisfaction as the other beast's body went limp and began to fall... until he realized that it was falling towards him. He began to move, but it was too late. The larger beast crashed down on top of him, its horn and tusks goring Baragon's throat, spilling blood as it pinned him down against the ice. The sudden impact, along with their combined weight, was enough to crack the ice they stood upon, sending it and them crashing into the waves. Baragon was vaguely aware of the chilling waters enveloping his body before the last breath of air escaped his lungs. The two titans' blood left a crimson trail marking their descent to the ocean floor.
* * * * *
HEAT and Dr. Bowen watched as the battle came to an end, both kaiju sinking into the icy depths.
"Mon Dieu," Monique commented in disbelief. "This was a far more interesting outing than I'd initially expected."
"No kidding," Randy said. "A new Baragon? A water Baragon? I mean, what is that, his Alola Form?"
Monique gave him an odd look. "Does anything you say ever make sense?"
"Occasionally," he shrugged.
"That was a hell of a thing we just saw, Doctor," Nick said, addressing Bowen. "My condolences about Baragon."
"Eh, he's seemingly died before only to pop back up somewhere down the road," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "I'm sure he'll show up again at some point. But that new one, that water Baragon... he's the one I'm worried about. We've never seen him before, and he's killed off after making his very first appearance in the world. The mere concept of familiar kaiju taking on or evolving new forms to deal with certain elemental or ecological terrain is fascinating. I worry we'll never see him again."
Elsie grumbled, then decided to try and comfort her fellow scientist. "Well, hey. If he's anything like the first Baragon, he'll pop back up again in no time, right?"
Dr. Bowen bobbed his head slightly, nodding. "Here's hoping. I'd love to study that thing one day. Oh, well. There's not much that can be done about it now." After a moment, he turned to Elsie. "I don't suppose you're doing anything this weekend, Dr. Chapman?"
Elsie gave him a shocked, offended look. Before she could respond with her usual snark, Craven stepped in between them, glaring at Dr. Bowen. "Okay, we're done here."
* * * * *
Thousands of miles away, a man sat in front of his view screen, watching the end of the fight unfold. He made a disappointed sound as Baragon killed his seagoing counterpart, but was delighted when the underground monster perished as well.
"An unfortunate outcome," he said to himself as he rose from his chair, leaving the view screen behind him. Stepping into another room, a few of his soldiers saluted him, but he paid little attention to them as he made his way to a large control console and begin entering a series of commands. "I'll have to increase his strength, of course. The fact that he lost to a kaiju like Baragon is regrettable, but nevertheless, this was still quite an impressive test run! He's a very ferocious fighter, my newest creation. Once his strength has been raised to an acceptable level, he may even prove a challenge to monsters like Godzilla, or Kong! Yes... Kong."
The man grinned as he brought up the final menu necessary for the computer to carry out its orders.
MENU: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED BIO-WEAPONS
SUB-MENU: SEA BARAGON
Y / N
Chuckling to himself, the white haired man gave the command, and the many bioengineering machines throughout his base roared to life, splicing DNA, synthesizing flesh and bone... Creating life. He brushed his cape off of his shoulder as he smiled with satisfaction, watching as another aquatic Baragon soon began to take shape.
"Soon, you will rise again, Sea Baragon," the man declared. "And you will bring victory to Dr. Who."
Baragon (Showa), Sea Baragon