K.W.C.

  • Authors: Dao Zang Moua & Matthew Freese | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    Four years have passed since that fateful day in 2014. The day the world learned that Monsters truly exist. As such, the once secret organization, Monarch, had been doing its best to find and study these creatures. With the knowledge of monsters now widespread, the organization now had to rush to beat out other interested groups in finding these Titans in order to both preserve and prevent their use for destructive purposes. Put under fire by the US Government, the organization was now under scrutiny by the governing bodies of several other countries, all wanting the knowledge they had gathered over decades of studying the Titans.

    To some, that might seem as though all their hard work was being torn away like a leaf in the wind. For Shinichi Yamane, he was almost glad that this information was going to be spread out. The older man let out a long sigh as he sat in the back of an Osprey, a new hoverable aircraft built by Monarch. The knowledge they had gathered was mostly in ways to destroy the Titans, while some, like himself, sought to understand them. If this information was shared amongst the world, evacuation plans and emergency responses could be better created in case one of the Titans awoke and rampaged. As with how much good this would be in the long term, he had a feeling that Monarch would refuse to release it once again.

    The shuddering rumble of turbulence in the machine he rode did little to ease him, as he watched one of the many government meetings about the militarization and giving the military rule of Monarch, the organization being defended by a trio of Monarch employees. Being a second generation researcher at Monarch had its benefits, allowing for a better understanding of the organization as a whole and more freedom to search new locations. However, those also came with their own problems, as his old friend Ishiro Serizawa would attest, the man currently in said debate over the organizations’ continued existence outside of the military. The two of them were close friends, both their fathers having done much work together when Monarch was first founded. Though both sought similar fields, only one was busy representing an entire organization. As such, Yamane had a bit more freedom than his more well known friend, something he liked to joke about.

    However, Yamane felt that there was still something missing in his life. While Serizawa researched intently into Gojira and other titans with similar relations, Yamane preferred a more adventurous life for his old age, searching new areas for indications or hidden habitats for various undocumented Titans. His discoveries of several Titans and Titan fossils had earned him enough merit for him to simply study any of the creatures on Monarch’s radar he wanted, yet he continued on with his search for titans. Many believed he simply enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and adventure. Only he knew the truth. Unlike the others, he hadn’t felt a connection to any of the Titans he had found. None had gained his interest enough for him to devote his time to. As such, he felt as though he were always incomplete as a scientist, as though there was nothing truly worth devoting his time to.

    The feed soon cut off as the pilot alerted him they were nearing the location. Staring out the side window, Yamane watched as temples of various sizes and states of decay sprawled across the land. He was on assignment to the Tharabha Gate of Bagan. A recent earthquake had opened up a sinkhole to an underground temple nearby, dating much further back than those on the surface. If it weren’t for the depictions of Titans and the constant waves of hot wind blowing through from within the temple depths, it would have gone straight to some other historical researchers rather than the Titan-oriented Monarch. If this site had nothing to offer for him, he would pass it on to another researcher to take over and head for the next potential lead, a dormant volcanic island in the pacific where rumors of a giant monster nearby have spread.

    He could already see sprawling groups of various workers closing off the area and setting up research stations, all wearing protective gear. Near the gate was a massive hole in the ground, with various shrines having collapsed within. The moment the Osprey landed, he was already on his feet, meeting with a group of soldiers and researchers as he felt the unusual warmth of the surroundings.

    “Dr. Yamane, I presume?” a soldier stated in a slightly broken accent, holstering his weapon to hold out a hand. “I am Lieutenant Li Xiong, second in command of the platoon sent to monitor this location.”

    Yamane held out his identification pass and shook the hand, looking around at the various equipment and monitors set up.

    “Has anyone found the source of the heat waves?” Yamane spoke as he looked at the ancient structure, staring more closely at the two small shrines with statues of guardian spirits. In front of those two shrines and the gate was a large sinkhole caused by the earthquake. Staring inside, he noted that it had to be at least 30-40 meters of solid rock before the chasm revealed a large eroded cavern, now lit up with various lights and equipment.

    “Not yet, sir, but the heat appears to be coming from further down in the depths,” the soldier replied. “We have been sending down people in six hour intervals due to the heat inside the chamber.” The sound of hooks striking rock sounded out as several soldiers quickly shot onto the surface, each wearing temperature-regulating bodysuits and a mysterious mechanism on their waist. As they pulled themselves up, another powerful burst of warm air shot out of the hole, launching out one of the returnees who had shot off too much gas. With wires still stuck into the rock, he slammed down in an arc, back first onto the dirt at high speed. People rushed over to check on him as Yamane quickly realized what they were using.

    “So that’s the O.D.M. Gear,” he said, watching as people rushed to remove the gear from the injured soldier, the wires quickly retracting back into its container. O.D.M., short for Omni-Directional Maneuver Gear. A more refined version of the Katatsumuri device that allowed for better movement in a 3-dimensional space. Upon the discovery and usage of the Katatsumuri during the MUTO Prime Incident, Monarch had quickly hired the student at Japan University who invented the device and funded her to make her invention have better maneuverability in emergencies. As such, it was soon changed from a bulky, back-mounted mechanism that shot wires up and down, to a more streamlined waist harness mechanism that fired two retractable grappling hooks using a pressurized gas-propelled pulley system. A second version that used a more controllable, gun-like trigger mechanism was in the works, under the title of A.P. Modification.

    “As you can see, Doctor, the bursts of air were too powerful for us to use rappelling gear, so we asked Monarch to send us some of the prototype Maneuver Gear to get us down into the depths for the early stages,” the major replied. “However, once inside the cavern, we noticed various stone water pipes as well as ventilation holes releasing heat and water into a ravine.”

    Professor Yamane stared at the scene for a moment longer, the warm air billowing past him before slowing to a breeze. He wasn’t sure what it was, but in the back of his head, the professor felt something he hadn’t before during an excavation. As though something was calling to him.

    “I’m going down in the next shift,” he ordered. “Perhaps this is the one I’ve been searching for.”

    After several hours of waiting and greeting the personnel already working, the professor had changed into a temperature-regulated body suit, made by Monarch to protect against radiation from Titans and the temperatures of extreme locations. The suit came with a specialized helmet made to filter air in dangerous environments, as well as allowing for video recording and built-in communications. For the last couple of hours, Yamane had spent time with the soldiers who had already tested out the gear, learning the proper aiming techniques and how to use the mechanisms. It was this excitement to find new subjects that drove the professor as he stood over the billowing hole with groups of soldiers and researchers alongside him. The previous shift had just exited the hole, leaving this next shift to work through the night.

    “Are you sure you want to do this, Professor?” Lieutenant Xiong asked as he stood in the same equipment, holding his helmet in his arms. As hot air billowed out into the brisk twilight air, the professor stared into the depths before giving his response. Helmet lights on the others turned on as they prepared to leap into the depths. A large burst of warm air blew upward as several soldiers and researchers alike dove into the depths, cushioning their bodies with the winds as they fell into the depths.

    “A man once said, ‘When you’re ready, nothing can stop you. If something’s stopping you, you’re not ready.’”

    With his peace said, Yamane put on his helmet, hearing the hissing click as it locked into the suit, and dove into the hole. As he descended, he felt the air brushing past his suit before he shot out the anchors on his maneuver gear. Metal clamped into rock as the group descended into the depths, being sure to counteract their falling speed with bursts of compressed gas.

    The thuds of boots hitting broken stone and whirring wires echoed across the chamber as the group unlatched their hooks from the walls. The moment he hit the ground, the professor felt the heat brushing up against his suit. Unlike the crisp morning air above, the chamber was filled with an uncomfortable warmth, most likely cooled by the opening above. He began to look about his surroundings, various lights illuminating the dark cavern, revealing a large underground ravine cracked on one side as rocks and soil covered parts of the flooring. Carved into the walls were bas reliefs telling the tales of some civilization of the past. The roof of the cavern had several large and small openings, each releasing small bursts of hot or warm air into the room due to the damages of the collapse. Alongside them were several stone drains that were dripping water into the room, most likely being brought down and leading back into the nearby Irrawaddy River.

    “Interesting,” he spoke as he walked toward one of the walls, trying to decipher what story these carvings were telling. “How far have you gotten in exploring the temple, and how far back have you managed to date the rockface?”

    “So far, we’ve managed to date the stone carvings to about over 20,000 years,” one researcher said. “Though our equipment is still analyzing the samples, that is the most recent estimate. As for the exploration, several of the tunnels are blocked off by collapsed structures.”

    Staring up, he wondered what ancient civilization would make such intricate carvings, especially around that era. Most of history would state that such advancements in civilization should not have existed at such a period, yet some locations found by Monarch explorers had also, secretly, proven these ancient, and advanced for their era, civilizations existed at points where man should have still been living in caves.

    As he followed the walls, he found himself on the edge of the ravine, peering into the darkness as water fell down beneath him. Pressing a button on the side of his helmet, he activated his darkened headlamp, revealing the size of the ravine was far larger than he had assumed. Darkness still overcame the light of his helmet, barely able to see the wall of the opposing side hundreds of meters across. The depths themselves were still covered in darkness, leaving the ravine to appear like an endless abyss waiting to swallow him whole.

    “Careful there, sir,” one man said, staring at how close the professor was to the edge. “Wouldn’t want you to fall in now, would we?”

    “Of course not,” he replied back, joking along with the researcher as he turned back to rejoin the group. As he did so, the ground began to shudder as more heat filled the chamber. Panic filled the group as small rocks and dirt fell from the ceiling, the start of an earthquake in the making. The muddied ground beneath the professor quickly began to crumble, dropping him into the depths of the ravine behind him as the rumbling stopped.

    “Professor!”

    Shinichi screamed as he fell into the depths, his light frantically waving back and forth. Muddy water cascaded across his body as he reached about, trying to grab hold of the triggers for the Maneuver Gear. The hiss of the hooks firing outward and the snap of the wires stopping his fall briefly stunned the professor as he dangled, his vision covered in dirty water. An accidental press of the trigger mechanism from the snap caused a burst of gas to shoot out, launching the professor through the waterfall and into some rocks, his mask cracking from the impact and forcibly detaching the grapples from the rock. .

    “Gah!”

    With a cracked face protector covered in dirt and water, Yamane laid stunned on wet, yet oddly warm stone. He laid there for a moment, his back hurting from falling onto the maneuver gear before slowly sitting up. Turning back, he saw the large opening concealed by the falling water, lights flickering on the other side.

    “I’m alright!” he responded back, catching his breath from the rush. “I appear to have fallen into some sort of cavern.” As he stood, he felt the heat breezing past from behind, turning to see a long dark hallway covered in bas reliefs. “It seems I’ve found a passage leading further into the temple.” Static reached his ears before Captain Xiong’s voice came through.

    “We are getting video responses now, we can now see what you’re seeing,” Xiong said with some static in his voice. “I’ll send some people down, but we have no way of knowing exactly where the cave opening is with all the rushing water. You’re on your own for now.”

    With communications back in check, Yamane walked toward the halls, his headlight guiding his passage through the damp corridor. Peering upon the walls revealed more daily life of the civilization, though this time showing people bowing before a large pyramid with two horns. Behind the temple stood a massive beast, with horns like a triceratops, as well as two large shoulder spikes. Off to the side of the beast stood a more familiar entity to Monarch’s files, a certain ‘bringer of balance’ as his friend would say. As he looked upon the ancient art, he noticed beneath the murals were a series of ancient runic text, similar to other runic script of older civilizations.

    “Do we have anyone who can translate these runes?” Yamane asked as he backed up, viewing the entire Mural revealing more runic script and what appeared to be a massive creature etched into the stonework.

    “We have the translation program running over your video feed right now, but so far the only words that have been translated are ‘God of Darkness’ and ‘Bagan,’” a researcher stated.

    Yamane stared upon the mural in awe, the feeling in his mind coming to fruition. This was what he was searching for, his missing piece in his monarch journey.

    “Bagan,” he said, putting a hand to the mural’s horned beast.

    *****

    25,000 years ago

    Where life may flourish, humanity will always find a way to exist. Tall, triangular buildings of red stone stood upon the open plain of the land, protected by a large stone wall. A massive city spanning the land, built near a large river with man-made waterways bringing water to and from the city. Sprawling farmland spread far outside the walls, reaching out into the land until it reached the unending forests. Wooden caravans traveled to and fro among dirt roads through the forests, buying and selling their wares among the people of the city. It was here, on the edge of the forest that the Grand Temple of Bagan stood, made to honor the civilization’s great protector and their namesake. The God of the Forests, Bagan. Stood in front of the massive temple were two towers with long spires of stone, each with a minor gate guardian statue as massive hornlike spires jutted out from the forests behind the temple.

    People moved about within the courtyard of the temple, some kneeling down in prayer while others tended to the various flowers and small gardens beautifying the venue. Among them was a young woman dressed in white and green robes. Among the priests and priestesses of the temple, she was the highest rank, the divine translator between men and god. The high priestess, Hayma.

    Sitting in the midst of the garden, she stared toward the massive horns jutting from behind the temple’s structures. People bowed to her as they passed her by, yet she barely paid them mind. Even now, she could feel their outermost thoughts toward her, some seeing her with respect for her position while others held jealousy toward her talent, hiding behind masks of awe. Unlike the rest of the humans, Hayma was born differently, born gifted. She was born with the power to hear and speak to the hearts of both men and gods. People like her were found and brought to temples in order to hone their gift to translate the Gods words to the people, eventually finding the god that best connected with their personality. Though that was what the masses knew, the truth of the matter was for the gifted to use their talents to bond to a god, both to drive away angered gods, and for some, to control the gods themselves.

    Hayma sighed as she watched the spires move gently up and down. Even in his slumber, she could feel his thoughts in her mind. If she focused hard enough, she could even view his dreams if she so wished. Unlike what the masses would believe, the Gods didn’t speak like a human, but instead sent emotions and pictures through the bond as visions, sometimes even memories of past or future events. It was a bond that worked both ways, both beings sharing their hearts and minds together allowing them to see what the other saw. It was this bond that allowed those with her gift to connect humanity with the gods, sharing their emotions and experiences together. It was as she was viewing the glimpses of her god’s dreams, that she felt the mind of another drawing near. The mind of another god.

    Thundering footsteps shook the land, causing the people to panic. Some bowed down where they stood while others began to pray in a mass panic. Hayma did neither, walking up to the top of a tower in order to do her job as the High Priestess. As she made her way up, she watched as people moved about in mad prayer, others simply continuing business as per usual. However in all of them she felt a tinge of fear among their thoughts. She pitied them, knowing that their prayers were mere chitters of ants to most gods, unlike her whose voice could be heard and understood.

    Staring into the distance, she looked out into the horizon, searching for the god that was nearing. She had seen many of the great titans during her time as high priestess. Some were built like great animals, using their strength and power to overpower opponents. Others were built out of the elements themselves, showcasing the raw power of nature and reminding them of its might. However, she felt that only her god could compare to the monstrosity approaching. It’s power was something to be wary of.

    In the distance, she could see it’s coal black scales, almost rocky in appearance looming closer. Jagged spines jutted up like plates of sheared obsidian, flowing down in three rows along the spine of the reptilian creature. During her time learning to harness her power, she was taught to be wary of this god amongst all others. This creature was the balance bringer, the great destroyer, the King amongst the Gods. Gojira.

    Hayma stood there, staring at the massive god king as it made a path toward their city. As much as she hated having to do so, she knew only she and her god could deter the other gods of the world. With her mind made, she put her hands together in prayer, her mind pulsing with power as it began trying to connect with the oncoming god. It was a painful process, entering the mind of a god she had no bond with, yet she had to in order to keep them away from the city. However, trying to connect to this one was far harder than the others that occasionally made their way through. Briefly touching its mind, she was bombarded with information on its current purpose. Hunt, Kill, Intruder, False King. Alongside these messages came images of a great terror, one she had never seen before. A great shadow in the sky, covered by golden lightning. Pushing past the surface, she made contact with the God King’s heart, seeing the full picture for what it was. A golden destroyer descending from the stormy heavens, a harbinger of death and destruction.

    Now knowing his purpose, she began sending her own messages to the god, trying to dissuade him from trudging through their home. Surprisingly, she found it much easier to be heard then with other gods, as Godzilla stopped in his path. The great leviathan turned toward her location, as though staring straight at her. A feeling of understanding came through the bond, a weaker connection of trust compared to the one she had formed with her guardian deity. Sweeping his vision across the land, he noticed the city nearby, as well as the people bowing down in zealous fervor. With the people now in his sight and the pleading of the priestess in his mind, Godzilla turned to go around the city. Sighing in relief, Hayma unclasped her hands, readying to release her connection to the foreign god now that they had come to an understanding.

    This was not to be however, as a scent caught the alpha predator’s attention. Sniffing more, his eyes seemed to dilate as the powerful titan peered around once more, noticing the white spires jutting from the ground. Growling, Godzilla stood on guard, his sudden aggression catching Hayma’s attention. Blue energy pulsed through the jagged spines, lighting up patterns upon the rocky exterior as the titan king reared back. Memories flowed through the still open connection, memories Hayma had not seen before in other titans that wandered too close to the city. Unlike some of the other gods, Godzilla had been around far longer than the rest, having fought more battles than the rest of the titans ever had. It was through this experience that Hayma saw a vision, one from the long distant past.

    From where she stood, great burning flames washed over the land, the corpses of various titans, even other Godzilla, laid scorched and torn apart, rivers of boiling blood flowing along the molten ground. The skies were dark with soot and ash, occasionally lit up by the golden light of the moth goddess herself. Hayma watched as the goddess of light dove, her wings crimson red with rage before a stream of blistering white fire overcame her. His hatred was felt around her as the ground shook. From below her rose an injured Godzilla, blue energy billowing like smoke from shattered spines, anger marring his features. He roared out to the cause of this great annihilation, a dark figure that was revealing in the death and destruction strewn about. Shadows covered the monster’s form, yet Hayma recognized it all the same. As the figure turned to her, blinding light filled her vision, white flame striking blue.

    Gasping for breath, Hayma nearly fell over from the vision, her mind still connected to the god king. The vision she had seen showed her part of the past of her god, one she knew pieces of yet was still hidden from her. Her telekinetic power began to pulse with her panic, causing the civilians that were too close to collapse from the mental exertion. As she began to calm, the ground near the temple began to shudder. Dirt and rock shook as the mountain behind the temple slowly began to rise upward, raising skyward. Muscle and hide reddish brown, rippling with the might of the gods. Armor like great white marble covered its body, the two large spires that stood behind the temple jutting out of the shoulders like mighty pikes. Crowning his head were two large horns, a third nasal horn jutting outward like a blade of a dagger.

    Having felt the panic of his priestess, Bagan, God of the Forest, roared mightily into the sky, warning the oncoming titan to back away. Upon hearing the earth shaking warning, Godzilla growled to himself. His spines continued to flicker with their azure patterns, readying in case a fight broke out. Though his hatred for this abomination filled his mind, he had more pressing matters at hand then his rage. The monster king roared back, not in challenge, but in warning. A warning that a great calamity was coming.

    With the two conversing above, the people below prayed en masse in panic. They did not wish to be caught in the midst of a war between Gods. Even with her mind strained with the connection between two tense, powerful beings, Hayma still felt the innate fear of the people around her. It was over a moment later, as the god king backed away, still ready in case a battle were to break out. With the warning in place and the intruder leaving, Hayma unlatched her connection to the blue leviathan, her full attention now back on her god.

    Bagan looked down toward his priestess, sensing the rolling turmoil inside her mind. It transferred to him as well, letting him share in her emotions. He wished there was something he could do to comfort her, but he was lost on how to do such a thing in the face of his past darkness. It weighed on his heart like a stone.

    The stupor was broken by the low growl of Godzilla. Connected to her god, Hayma understood the meaning of the call through his mind. It terrified her.

    If this was Bagan’s territory, then it was his responsibility to handle the encroaching nightmare.

    The leviathan turned fully, walking away with only an occasional glance back. His heavy, booming footsteps soon faded into obscurity, leaving Bagan and Hayma with his parting message playing in their minds. Panicked murmurs amongst the people drew both their attentions to the horizon opposite Godzilla, revealing dark clouds creeping over it like grasping hands. Small flashes of yellow could be seen in the void.

    The priestess quickly made her way to the crowds, rattling off commands. “Everyone, prepare yourselves! Something horrible is coming, we need to be ready to weather this encroaching storm!” She repeated this a few times as the people scattered and ensured the message was spread far and wide. She turned to face her god, closing her eyes and clasping her hands before her face.

    “Please, protect us as you always have. You cannot fail here, not against this… abomination.”

    Bagan bowed his head slightly. This kingdom, its forests, and its people were his life. He would fight with all he had, until the last breath left his body. The glimpses he got of this entity from his priestess were enough to tell him that this would be a fight to rattle the heavens. Stretching his muscles as he adjusted to being awake, he reassured Hayma.

    With some of the fear lifted off her heart, Hayma went back to making preparations.

    Hours later, night fell. Bagan rested in his usual place, the psychic waiting by his side. She was tired, but her mind was focused on something else. She closed her eyes, reaching out once more.

    My god, can you hear me? She telepathically questioned. The bull dragon focused on her presence inside his mind, affirming. What did I see in Gojira’s mind? It was you but, it…

    The chamber of Bagan’s mind shuddered with myriad emotion, none pleasant. Anger, sorrow, fear, and shame. It was the ancient past, before ape became man. Control was lost, vast fields of death, unending mourning for what he had done.

    Hayma was taken aback when she “heard” that ever since that point, Bagan had restrained his true strength. Fearing that he would relapse and that day would happen anew. That was all he let his servant know, the rest of the knowledge locked away within recess of the colossus’ mind that could not be probed even if Hayma wished to violate his privacy as such.

    She felt his disdain for himself. He saw himself as disgusting and wretched, a disgrace to titankind. How could he call himself a protector with so much blood on his hands?

    Bagan suddenly felt a calming warmth in his mind, like an embrace. You have saved us in the past, no matter the danger you alone have stood to face it. In his slumber, the bull dragon’s mouth curled into a smile. Do not let your dark past define you. You have saved thousands of lives multiple times.

    Suddenly, the deity was transported to a scene, one filled with terror.

    A young girl ran through a city embroiled in chaos, a cacophony of agonized screams mixing with foul shrieks. People lay dying in droves, bleeding out and suffering as two-legged reptiles consumed them frantically, grey scales and a white skull-like face being stained with crimson as they ate like they had starved for a decade. Her vision was blurry from tears that continued to flow no matter how often she wiped her eyes, but even that did not stop her from noticing when one particularly colossal beast looked at her.

    Despite being big enough to crush a house flat with one step, the elder Skullcrawler still saw fit to madly charge at the young child, throwing itself full fervor at a target that would provide practically no sustenance. The hoarse, rasped call that escaped its cavernous throat, rolling past teeth stained with blood and decorated with viscera, nearly deafened her.

    As she turned and ran as fast as her small legs could carry her, the living nightmare’s mind brushed against hers, bombarding her with horrid images of her own mutilation and of the all encompassing madness billowing through the Skullcrawler’s mind. It was endless screaming, wrath clawing over agony only to be shoved down and overpowered by hunger, anguish returning in full force and waging war for dominance of the conscience.

    The ground shook as it drew near, only making it harder for her futile attempt to flee to create distance. The young girl screamed in terror and sorrow, adrenaline trying and failing to push her to safety.

    A roar that shook the heavens rang out. The earth was rocked by a tremor, sending the child falling down. She curled up into the fetal position, weeping as she awaited death, hoping it would be swift. Instead, there was another crash, combined with a call of immense agony from the cruel beast that had just tried to end her. Looking up, through her tears, she saw the Skull Devil.

    Its tail, pinned and presumably crushed beneath a pillar of ivory armor. Her gaze traveled further up, managing to still witness from the bottom of her vision as the column lifted up and reduced the body of her assailant into paste.

    Bagan saw himself through her eyes, standing tall and proud. The rest of the predators fled in droves, not attacking another living thing as their oft-ignored survival instinct took over. The deity looked down to the girl he had saved, face framed by glorious sunlight. Most found his glowing red eyes and sharp fangs ominous, even those loyal to him were hesitant to stare directly at his face.

    But through Hayma’s young eyes, and through her eyes even now, he saw himself as a savior. From the very depths of my heart, I thank you. For everything. She revealed to him.

    For the first time in eons, Bagan felt true joy.

    Days passed, anxiety rising with the darkening of the skies. Rain fell constantly, starting off as a light drizzle until a few days of increasing intensity made it a torrential downpour that threatened to flood the kingdom. Colossal bolts of golden lightning tore down from the heavens, blasting apart trees with their electric might or just leaving scorched patches upon the earth. Ferocious winds rippled through the trees, plucking away leaves and pulling off branches.

    Hayma was no stranger to harsh storms, but this one eclipsed any other by an immense degree. She waited within Bagan’s temple, sheltered from the soaking rain by its roof. From her perch she saw people fleeing into their homes, into stores and other similar places, and more than a few ran past the colossus standing before the temple to seek solace in the largest building. She, along with the others who tended to the temple, welcomed them in with open arms.

    “The temple shall not turn you away in this dark time, come forth and be shielded on this holy ground!” Hayma spoke, lifting the burden off many shoulders as they settled into some kind of comfort. She looked out once more, seeing her god standing outside. He cared not for the torrent, the lightning and howling wind gave him no fear. Bagan just stared out into the distance, claws flexing as he prepared himself.

    He did feel fear creeping through him, it was slight, but he could tell it was present. The single deadliest foe he’d ever faced was coming, how could he not feel some fear? But, Hayma was the rock his people leaned on for stability, and he was her rock in kind. The forest god remained steadfast, determined to not let weakness show.

    “Bagan shall guard us, his will and body shall remain as unbroken as it has for centuries!” The head-priestess chanted to her people.

    “Praise Bagan, our indomitable guardian!” Someone in the group shouted. The rest joined them in the chant, bringing a smile to Hayma’s face.

    The joy in her heart faded when she sensed it. A presence of pure malice, grotesque in its desires. She subtly reached out with her mind, only to mentally recoil like she had put her hand too close to a fire. Whispers crept through her brain, incomprehensible and maddening. Throbbing pain joined them. They faded as she connected to her god once more, trusting in his strength.

    Bagan looked into the bleak heavens, eyes trying to see through the shade. He knew something was in there, approaching. The colossus snarled, sharp teeth being bore. Through the lightning, he heard some repetitive sound. Sucking in air, the armored god let loose a mighty roar that rose above all other noise. Hands flew to cover ears amongst the civilians, shielding their hearing from the rolling, baritone call. Bagan’s crimson eyes narrowed as the repetitive noise became clearer.

    It was laughter.

    Lightning illuminated the silhouette, too complex for Bagan to make out what he was looking at in the instant before it faded. But what he did hear was the uproarious, deranged laughter layered thrice over. It was mocking, cruel, and callous.

    From the clouds they descended. Golden scales enshrouded the dragon, interlocked like armor. Colossal wings carried them through the air, lengthy, bony fingers with membrane weaved between them. Twin tails swung through the air, ending in clubs that rattled with spikes. Thin yet muscular legs ended with wicked claws, primed to dig into flesh and rip it asunder. And finally, meeting Bagan’s burning gaze, three heads adorned with crowns of horns. Snake’s tongues flickered out and tasted the air. The right head met Bagan’s wrath with its own ferocity, eager to rip and tear. The left stared with curiosity, taking in the features of their soon to be foe. And the center looked with utter disdain, seeing another fool standing in the way of their divinity.

    The golden serpent landed, sending mud and stone flying with the impact. They stood to their full height, spreading their wings and unfurling their necks. The sky still raged with the hurricane, the by-product of the demon’s sheer power.

    King Ghidorah screeched, announcing the arrival of the almighty.

    Bagan stomped the ground before him, bellowing in challenge.

    The xanthic demon balked at this. Was this one not impressed, not intimidated by their display? They called toward the bull-like behemoth, trying to prod and irritate him. He did not seize the bait, merely beginning to walk forward.

    The left head of the devil peered around, noticing the small structures around their feet. It transferred this information to the rest, who quickly put together what this situation was. A guardian, a giant who sought to protect the pathetic wastes of flesh and blood instead of torturing them for entertainment or snuffing them out en masse for the crime of being so weak.

    King Ghidorah knew full well how to draw the hatred of these kinds of foes.

    One tail rose high into the air, before coming down like a hammer onto one of the abodes, crushing it into powder. The thrice-headed fiend cackled as he felt the squish of organic matter amongst the stone.

    Bagan’s slow march transformed into a full sprint, his thick legs moving at speeds that belied his mass. Hayma was taken aback at the harsh, echoing call that left her god’s maw. Something about it reminded her of the visions of his past she had seen before…

    King Ghidorah’s joy was apparent with the cruel laughter that escaped their three mouths. They could just tell this would be a good fight, especially the promise of crushing the spirit of such a colossal behemoth! Getting low to the ground, the dragon’s wings came down and acted like another pair of legs, allowing them to charge forward far faster than they could have on just their legs.

    The kingdom shuddered as the serpent and the bull drew closer.

    With mighty calls, the two clashed, Bagan’s hands crashing into the jaws of the dragon’s outer heads with a shockwave that would have demolished any nearby structures if there had been any. They shoved, trying to overpower the other. Neither gained any ground, until King Ghidorah’s foot came up in a kick to the behemoth’s leg, sending sparks flying as claw scraped armor. The offset in balance let the defender god push his foe backward, and even when both of the demon’s feet were planted, they struggled to gain a solid foothold.

    The center head of the serpent turned and brought its teeth down on the wrist of its foe, earning a cry of pain from Bagan. Pulling itself free, the head which had been locked in the grip lunged forward, bashing its skull into the behemoth’s chin. The two released each other, backing away a step. Almost immediately, the two were back on the attack.

    Bagan’s claws crashed into the dragon’s chest, trying to pierce the golden scales. King Ghidorah’s heads lashed out, whipping themselves against the hide of their foe. The behemoth closed his fist, cracking it against one of the heads assailing him, earning a cry of anguish. The other two were quick to respond, clamping their jaws onto his arm and thrashing themselves back and forth to maximize damage. Armor began to crack and flake away, prompting the deity to turn his body and swing his arm, pulling it free. Swinging his own head, he tore away scales with his nasal horn, sending them and a shower of sparks falling.

    Snarling, the xanthic demon beat their wings, carrying them into the air high enough to send a dual kick into the guardian’s chest, cracking the hide and forcing Bagan back. As he stumbled, the dragon flew forward, crashing their bulk into his. With their left head staying back, King Ghidorah’s other two heads lashed out, biting and tearing at their foe. Their talons stayed latched onto the god’s stomach, their twin tails coming forth to wrap around one of his arms to let the devil press the attack. Bagan struggled as he staggered back, King Ghidorah’s weight pressing down on him as more chunks of armor were torn away. He reared his free arm back, but when he swung it forward, the left head shot forward and snagged it in its jaws, ceasing his counter.

    With the demon’s legs rearing back and crashing bladed kicks into his gut, trying madly to break through and pierce his gut, Bagan roared in outrage. The protrusions from his shoulders crackled with white electricity, drawing the attention of the fiend. The assault stopped as they watched the dazzling display, growing hungry for power at the sight. From the shoulders the power surged through Bagan’s upper body, reaching its destination as it danced between his trio of horns. King Ghidorah lashed out, seeking to steal this power and make it their own, only to be cut short as the god’s maw opened wide.

    An immense beam of blazing plasma, banishing the darkness with an azure hue, soared forth from the chasm of Bagan’s throat. Crashing into King Ghidorah’s chest, it lifted them off their foe and carried the devil through the air for a great distance. The shrieks of anguish from the serpent echoed across the lands.

    The golden fiend smashed into the ground, flattening a portion of the city beneath their mass. They began to rise after a few moments of laying still, groaning in pain as their blackened chest smoked. Bagan was already there, swinging a punch into the dragon’s gut that sent them spilling over once more, crushing more abodes in the process.

    The behemoth smiled, feeling the thrill of battle course through his veins again. It was exhilarating! He slammed a stomp onto the serpent’s tails, being rewarded with a snapping sound. It had been so long since he had been met with something that would challenge him.

    A brilliant light shined in King Ghidorah’s chest, quickly traveling up their throats. Bagan was taken aback at the sheer luminosity of it. The destroyer pushed themself up with their wings, then whipped around and opened their three jaws.

    The bull-like beast roared in agony as golden streams of alien electricity blazed into his chest, tearing through armor and burning the flesh beneath. The trio of Gravity Beams converged into one, all focused upon maximizing damage. When the assault faded, there was a blackened hole in the deity’s armor.

    Rising to their full height, King Ghidorah bashed their wing against the dazed foe, sending Bagan falling onto his side. The bull dragon’s bulk smashed into the ground, sending dust shooting into the air. Cracks spider-webbed down the streets.

    The serpentine destroyer leapt with the thrust of their wings, bringing their taloned feet down onto Bagan’s side. The earth was further disturbed by the impact, tremors flowing throughout the city. Another leap, another stomp to the torso leaving cracks in the behemoth’s ivory armor.

    Bagan glanced over his form, seeing the cracks in his hide slowly beginning to seal shut. He growled in disdain, they should have already healed! Had his self-imposed restraint truly dulled his capabilities this much? But, it was better to deal with this issue than that of himself unchained…

    My lord, fight! I know you have the strength to overcome this demon, you can do anything as long as your resolve withstands!

    His priestess’ reassurances lit a fire in the god’s gut. King Ghidorah prepared to take off once more, only for their foe to suddenly roll over, his palm slamming into the gut of the one who is many. Claws dug into scale and skin as the muscular arm drove King Ghidorah’s back into the mud. The fiend was already trying to rise, only for Bagan to once again carve a gash into the golden armor with his nasal horn.

    Quickly rising to his feet, the guardian returned the favor with an immense stomp to his foe’s gut. Screeches left the trio of mouths, only growing in fervor and pitch as Bagan’s foot shot forward and caught the underside of the demon, sending the golden nightmare soaring through the air.

    Stone and soaked soil defied gravity upon the devil’s impact, before slapping back down soon afterward. King Ghidorah rolled for a moment, groaning in wrath at the humiliation, but soon stopped. Back on their feet immediately, King Ghidorah charged right back toward Bagan with renewed fury.

    The divine behemoth charged his plasma breath, parting his jaws and discharging the holy wrath of his power. The golden serpent beat their wings, carrying them into the air as their throats shined with the alien energy within. A trench was carved into the earth, flash-boiling the mud and reducing grass and rock to ash as Bagan’s assault missed its target.

    Hayma cringed as the beam destroyed dozens of homes, hoping that no one would notice the accidental devastation. To her dismay, complaints rose behind her.

    “What the hell is he doing!?” Someone shouted over a chorus of angered whispers.

    King Ghidorah unleashed Gravity Bolts, sweeping them across Bagan’s form and his immediate surroundings. Lacerations as black as coal marred the bull dragon, as beautiful architecture that took months to craft became nothing in an instant.

    Hayma felt pain pulse through her skull at the building wrath in the temple, as if each growl of displeasure was a smack to the head. “If it wasn’t for him, our kingdom would be powerless!” She snapped at the crowd. “Do you expect him to effortlessly destroy something that even the other gods of the world fear?”

    Pulling his head up, Bagan carried his weapon into King Ghidorah’s path. Rogue energy flew off in sparks as the beams collided, the plasma breath breaking through the individual bolts. The xanthic demon ceased fire and tried to dodge, but failed to avoid the edge of one of their wings being clipped by the beam. With smoke rising from the torn membrane, King Ghidorah plummeted to the unforgiving ground.

    Hayma’s words, along with the change in the battle, seemed to subdue their anger for the time, at least enough to let her be able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, she could still feel the latent rage building in their hearts, and it was taking a toll on her mind feeling so much negativity in one location.

    King Ghidorah climbed to their feet, hateful snarls escaping their mouths. The left head peered over, witnessing the damage inflicted upon their wing. Smoke curled from tatters, strands of membrane falling free and sizzling away upon the mud. The information was fed to the greater conscious, only intensifying their fury.

    Bagan charged into battle, twisting his body to bring his shoulder crashing into the chest of the fiend. Moist soil flew as King Ghidorah’s feet dug into the ground, immediately replying with flailing headbutts, cracking off shards of armor. The forest god’s feet dug in as well, he refused to give an inch. His claws sliced across the golden armor, tearing away scales and leaving shallow grooves.

    The serpent’s foot lashed up, cracking against the guardian’s thigh. Bagan lowered his head, slamming the top of his skull against his foe’s stomach. He reared up, carving another gash with his nasal horn. King Ghidorah bit down on their foe’s horns, then swung his wings like fists to bash into the guardian’s sides.

    Pain shot through his form with each strike, but Bagan focused enough to charge up another Plasma Breath, loosing it into his foe’s gut. With their scales charring and flesh bubbling, King Ghidorah was shoved back, their grip forced to be relinquished. Homes were made into powder beneath their feet as they tore through the mud.

    Despite the anguish and damage wracking both titans, they marched toward each other like they had not been hit once.

    King Ghidorah’s three sets of jaws clamped onto Bagan’s throat, teeth digging in. The golden demon clamped down as hard as they could, desperate to taste blood. They forced Bagan back, madly thrashing their heads back and forth.

    Rearing a hand back, the bull dragon thrust it forward, driving the claws into the burnt flesh on King Ghidorah’s chest, lancing into the weakened hide and staining his fingers black. The fiend released their grip, backing away with shrieks of agony.

    But the pain stabbing into his throat had outraged the forest god.

    Lunging forward, one of Bagan’s hands grasped the left neck of Ghidorah, pulling it taut. The demon screeched in shock and panic, which morphed into agony when the bull dragon’s teeth clamped onto the throat. Empowered by his own agony and hatred, Bagan crushed down with all the might his jaws could muster, soon tasting the absolutely bitter wretchedness that was his foe’s blood. King Ghidorah tried to fight back, but Bagan just planted his foot in the fiend’s gut before yanking back with all he had. Gold scale parted to reveal pale flesh, which split into tenebrous fibers.

    And with the snapping of tendons, Bagan ripped his foe’s head off.

    The golden fiend stumbled back, vision growing blurry as blood like bile spewed forth from the stump. The two remaining minds were spinning with shock and horror, barely able to comprehend what was before them. Ignoring the bitter taste in his own mouth, Bagan crushed the skull between his mighty teeth, scattering shards of bone and globs of brain matter.

    The vile sound snapped King Ghidorah back into reality, drawing a primal noise from the depths of the twin throats. This wretch would dare to disfigure the superior being? To rip away a third of their consciousness?

    The wyrm would take so much more than a third in return.

    Still trying to rid his mouth of the vile taste, Bagan was caught off guard as King Ghidorah entered the air with a scream devoid of reason. The wound in their wing would have stopped a prolonged flight, but it did not halt the very short airborne assault.

    The destroyer slammed a foot down onto Bagan’s skull, then dropped from the air, sending the forest guardian crashing to the mud face-first. Grinding their heel against their foe’s head, King Ghidorah twisted in place and latched their other set of talons around one of the horns on Bagan’s head.

    The screams of the bull dragon were muffled by the soil as King Ghidorah rushed forward, dragging the guardian behind them. Trees and crushed houses flew like ash in a fire’s backdraft as the devil purposely sought to destroy all Bagan valued. Turning toward the temple, the killer of god and man alike let loose laughter that sounded like it escaped from the pits of Tartarus.

    The people within cowered, horrified at everything they witnessed, their terror growing into mortal dread as the serpent moved with all the fervor of the Skullcrawlers that had terrorized the kingdom over a decade ago.

    Bagan, it’s coming toward the temple, do something! Hayma begged telepathically.

    The god groaned, feeling himself be dragged once more. He lifted his head enough to gasp a deep breath, before slamming his palms into the loose ground. He pushed with all he had, earning a chorus of hatred from King Ghidorah as they were flung into the air, their feet becoming unlatched by the force.

    Hayma was too busy celebrating the sight of the fiend being hurled back like trash to notice the growing dissent amongst the people for the temple being saved, but not the myriad homes King Ghidorah had torn down with Bagan’s body…

    Breathing in heavy, ragged bursts, the guardian turned to face his opponent, his posture afflicted with a noticeable slouch. He needed to end this fast, he was running low on energy. If he tore off another head, surely the demon would flee. That was all he would need to do, then he could slumber…

    Golden agony crashed against his face, blinding him as teeth were shattered. Cracked armor was torn asunder down his torso as King Ghidorah continued the assault, the twin streaks of luminous death dancing across their target’s form. Trying to endure the pain, Bagan charged up another discharge of plasma, his shoulders glowing with the building power as it flowed toward his maw. The golden beams stopped.

    And then came again, each grander in scale as the wyrm tapped into the deep reserves of their power. They combined into one, a single spear of divine death.

    Bagan stopped charging as the combined Gravity Beam tore into his groin, shattering armor like dry wood. The entire kingdom heard the wheezed groan that escaped his throat, before he fell to the earth like a crumbling tower.

    Hayma gasped, her own fear only intensified by that of everyone else in the room.

    “So he’s going to cause all that destruction himself, and then die!?” someone shouted.

    “What kind of god only saves his temple and cares not for his people? One I would rather not worship!”

    Hayma turned to the crowd of hundreds, trying to reassure them. “Please, everyone remain calm! We need to trust in Bagan, especially in this dire momen—”

    There was a cracking, which echoed for all to hear. It sounded like a hundred trees snapping at once. Hayma turned to see it, even though her psychic powers revealed it to her already.

    King Ghidorah had broken one of Bagan’s arms underfoot. The guardian tried to get up, shaking and coughing with anguish. One of the serpent’s necks shot forth, encircling his body to wrap around the still working arm of the god. Opening its jaws, it sank its fangs into the flesh, relishing in the sweet taste of blood. The remaining head peered at its prey, seeing a cracked portion of hide. It hooked a horn beneath it, before pulling up. The sickening sounds of it peeling away were like a melody to the devil. With one last yank, there was now a patch of exposed flesh, which it greedily bit down on like a beggar receiving a meal.

    Glowing light was pulled from beneath Bagan’s skin, flowing into the teeth and down the necks like water. He writhed and moaned in agony, but it did nothing to deter the wyrm from drinking of their foe’s essence. With his power being drained, Bagan focused what remained and covered his body with white electricity. The only effect this had on his opponent was for the electricity to course over his foe’s scales, leading his power to be absorbed at double the rate. Immediately, the torn wing membrane began to sow itself back together, strands erupting from the wound and connecting together. The same was becoming true across King Ghidorah’s full body, scales regrowing to recover healing tissue, burnt flesh falling away and being renewed.

    From the limp neck, tendrils emerged like the grasping feelers of a cephalopod. They attached to one another as more grew, slowly but surely reconstructing the curious aspect of the thrice-headed one.

    The maelstrom of emotion amongst the hundreds, perhaps thousands, within the temple was like weights upon every inch of Hayma’s body. Her breathing was short and swift as she tried to calm herself down. The negative energy filling the chambers of the holy place made this impossible.

    “After all this destruction by his hand, the so-called god will just die and leave us all at the golden dragon’s mercy!” Shouted an older woman, cradling a crying child in her arms.

    Hayma tried to plead. “People, please, put your faith that he can break free and—“

    “I’m not putting my faith in that wretch!” a man shouted above the groaning crowd. “He’s just as bad as the storm bringer!”

    The priestess tried to respond, taking some hope in the glimmers of reverence in their deity amongst the gathered. “How can you say such a thing after he has protecte—“

    “After he had destroyed our homes, yet got a second wind to fight back when his temple was in danger! How can we be sure he has not just been guarding us because we bask him in praise!” A lower ranking priest called out.

    An elderly man responded before Hayma could even get a word in edgewise, his voice clearly weathered by age but still managing to echo. “We all saw how the balance bringer reacted when he drew near to Bagan! Tell us, oh great and high priestess, why the king of the gods wished to destroy our so-called god!”

    “Why, he merely did not… he didn’t recognize him! Gojira knew not of our god before their encoun—“

    “She’s lying, I’ve known her for years!” Shouted one of Hayma’s fellow priestesses, driving a blade of fear through the loyalist to the forest god. Even the other devotees to him were turning!

    She breathed a sigh of relief when another person spoke up for Bagan. Another elderly man, who spoke with reserve and calmness. “People, please! Can you fault our lord for struggling against such a mighty foe, and for not being perfect? I am sure that Bagan shall break free and drive the demon away, as he always—“

    The man cried out as another male struck him across the face, the younger man sending his elder to the ground. Gasps filled the room, but to Hayma’s dismay, she did not sense everyone in the room disagreeing with the assailant. “Shut the hell up, there’s nothing left for that demon in god’s skin to save!” he shouted.

    Tears were flowing from Hayma’s eyes. “You all cannot just reject him, Bagan has saved us all so many times, this one time is enough to drive you all away?” she shouted. There was silence, an all encompassing, frightening silence.

    It was quiet enough to hear someone unlatch a torch from off one of the pillars of the room. Suddenly, the commotion picked up again as a rough-looking, grizzled man charged through the crowd, holding the burning stick. He broke through the front, charging toward Hayma with a look of utter hatred in his eyes, not a single person in his path having tried to stop him.

    “My family was out there, damn you and your false god, witch!” he bellowed, before burning the priestess’ face with the flame with a strike. She fell to the ground, crying out in anguish. Burns now marred her once beautiful features.

    And that action ignited the kindling being wracked up inside the collective mind of the crowd.

    “Death to Bagan!” The chant echoed madly as people began tearing down tapestries depicting him and his battles throughout history. Fists flew into the faces of those who supported the deity, brutal and unrelenting as hysteria became king amongst them. Other torches were unlatched and used to burn works of art and altars devoted to him, filling the chambers of the holy place with smoke and drifting ash.

    Bagan wept as he sensed it all, transmitted to him from the tortured mind of his only friend. King Ghidorah let out muffled laughter, their two heads mentally conversing and sharing mockery toward the insects. Did they somehow think this display of barbarity would save them?

    But the golden devil would not object to a show with their meal.

    “How could you all do this!?” Hayma cried out, tears streaming from the one eye left unaffected by the assault. “After all he has done, you do this!?”

    Her attacker showed no remorse as he slammed a kick into her side, bruising ribs. Another man stepped toward her, brandishing a fishing knife. Men, women, and children cheered as he approached, roaring with delight at her incoming death.

    “No, please! What do you all hope to even accomplish!?” she begged of them.

    The knife-wielder just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, I’m just following the crowd. I just happen to be the one with a weapon.” He replied with a toothy, sadistic grin before plunging the blade into Hayma’s stomach.

    Time seemed to pause for her.

    She no longer saw the people she had communed with every day of her life, those she praised Bagan with, the people of her kingdom. She saw wild animals, savages following only their herd mentality. All it took was fear to turn them into this.

    She would give them something to absolutely dread.

    As her blood sprayed forth from the wound, the attacker pulling the blade out and preparing to drive it in again, Hayma screamed. Not of agony, but to their dismay, in horrid hatred.

    “Damn you all, pathetic scum!” She declared, the words echoing into their very minds. “Bagan breaks his body to serve you all, and you spit in his eye! I devote my life to ensuring his relation to our kingdom is good, and you do this!”

    At her last word, psychic waves lashed out, sending agony through the minds of all present. The knife-wielder sliced her across the stomach by mistake as he stumbled back, but Hayma seemed to care little for the excess blood flowing from her.

    Tears flowed from her eyes, but her wrath did not dim. “You all deserve what shall happen next!” Weaker-minded people fell to their knees as her mind continued lashing out in a frenzy, clutching their heads as their brains throbbed with agony. She looked to the man who had burned her, who was busy backing away with a look of mortal terror in his eyes. “Join your family.” She spoke to him, words dripping with venom.

    The crowd was suddenly afflicted with horrid images flashing through their consciousnesses. Skullcrawlers ripping them asunder, blood and gore flying in all directions as they feasted. The unending hatred and misanthropy flowing through the three minds of their assailant, images of them reducing the kingdom to ash and gruesomely torturing the survivors to death.

    Of Bagan’s true darkness unleashed, the corpses of gods forming a mountain beneath his feet.

    All of these and more grotesque sights flashed through their brains. The absolute pain and anguish of Hayma manifesting as bile which she vomited upon them all.

    The torch holding father, his mind spasming with all being forced upon it as he received it far more intense than any other, stuck his face in the flames. He accidently inhaled, pulling fire into his body and collapsing his lungs. He dropped like stones, joining the knife wielder as he plunged the blade into his own gut.

    People fought amongst themselves, some compelled into blind frenzies by the psychic assault. Hayma just laughed, a broken, pained cackle that tore at her throat. The last statement the people heard from her was this, blood flowing from her mouth.

    “Bare witness to the wrath that eons ago crushed the gods and made the Earth itself shudder in terror!”

    A crowd rushed over to her, stomping upon her broken body in a desperate bid to end the blazing needles being driven into their psyches. She merely closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind.

    Overwhelming pain. Even with the two headed serpent draining away at his life, the pain of its bite was nothing compared to the psychic power clawing into his mind. He could feel her, the one pillar of light he had left in this world. He could feel her injuries, her pain stricken body, her anger at the people, her sadness at their betrayal, but most importantly, he felt her fading away, her fading voice echoing one last message within his mind.

    I know you can win this. I know what you truly are, and I don’t fear it. From the very beginning, I knew that you were the one I wanted to serve. The visions of your past only cemented my thoughts on you further. The people don’t deserve you. We protected them, showed them mercy and kindness, and they responded with fear and betrayal. So show them. Show them your true power, my friend. Unleash your power, kill that false god, and regain your title as the true ruler of this world!

    With her last words embedded in his mind, the connection between man and god was severed at last. Silence filled the behemoth’s mind, the fading light of his friend’s presence turning to darkness. With her light now gone, darkness filled its void, violent and building with his rage and sorrow. Weakened by the psychic response and fueled by his feelings at the death of his only true friend in millenia, Bagan, God of the Forest was dead, and in his place, Bagan, the God of Darkness, was reborn anew.

    Electricity crackled across burnt armor, surging throughout the encaptured monster’s body and into the maw of the golden demise. The golden hydra hungrily lapped up the increased electrical charge, surprised at the sudden influx of power being given off as their severed neck seemed to increase tenfold in its regeneration. Blackened ash fell to the ground, replaced by ashen white armor and blood red flesh. Red eyes glistened and crackled with electricity as power surged through his very being.

    Lifting up his broken arm, he roared out in pure rage, the bones snapping into place, as he clawed into the neck restraining his other arm. Gripping with unrestrained might, he dug his claws into the beast’s golden scales, piercing deep into the foreign invader’s body. Ghidorah cringed at the pain assailing it’s other head as the third head finally finished its regenerative process, the only restraint left being the healing patch holding the head from forming.

    As the center head went to unlatch the clear membrane, it heard a loud crack, something long and muscular wrapping around its horns and maw before snapping backward. Turning around, it found the source of the bindings on its body, its opponent’s tail now extended, trying to yank it off the rest of the body. As it struggled to get free, it watched as the once shattered open wound it had been biting healed like it had never been struck.

    With pain striking their body, the right head continued to absorb the vast amount of power this creature was giving off. As powerful white energy surged through its neck, the head soon realized that the transfer of energy was going nowhere, coalescing and circling within itself. Confused at first, it wasn’t long before the head found itself sailing through the air, having been torn off the main body and sustained only by the energy it was absorbing. The God of Darkness roared out as he tore King Ghidorah off his body, swinging it around with his powerful tail, and tossed the golden being through the remains of the palace, sending the dragon hurtling across the land.

    White electricity crackled off his flesh, his hide fully healed as his regeneration returned to its true strength. The shackled darkness within his heart was now pulsing through his veins like pitch black fire as Bagan glared at the burning temple. Millenia of restraint began lifting as the dark power surged through his body hungrily. As his strength returned to him, he heard the angered cries of the people below. Turning his head, he saw the humans staring at him in fear, the corpse of his only friend lying in a bloody puddle in their midst. Seeing the ones responsible only fueled his anger further. He would not let them defile his friend’s body any further.

    There was only one fate for those who rebelled against their masters.

    Those in the above ground section of the temple had little chance of survival as burning hot plasma vaporized their very being, leaving behind nothing but molten rock. Turning his head, Bagan continued to unleash his rage upon the people he had once protected, the ones that would dare to scorn his kindness and centuries of protection upon only a single battle destroying their home. The cries and pleading of those below did nothing to appease his wrath as he burned all who stood before him. Without his friend, their prayers meant nothing to him.

    Stone and rubble scattered as the three headed monster exploded out of his brief tomb. Ghidorah was furious! With a loud cackle of anger, the devil’s wings opened to their full might, rocks and mud slinging backward. Turning their view, they glared murderously at the creature that dared to not only tear off their head once, but twice now. The power they had absorbed from their foe quickly kicked in, the torn stump growing at a rapid pace as the middle head tore off the remaining membrane of the other.

    The side heads flexed their newly formed muscles as they turned their hatred toward the beast. Bagan simply stood there, unleashing his flames onto the buildings below. It seemed they had managed to make their prey snap. What a pathetic thing to lose one’s mind over. This would only make the coming kill all the more sweeter for them. Golden sparks built up around the dragon’s body, traveling upward to the three heads. With three consecutive roars of rage, golden destruction surged outward, coming together into a combined beam of destruction.

    Hearing the crackling of lightning, Bagan stopped his divine wrath and turned to the storm bringer. Holding up a single hand, Bagan watched as the oncoming beam was completely negated, its electrical might reflecting off an invisible barrier of energy formed from his glowing claws, tearing apart the city below.

    Shocked that their foe had suddenly gained a new ability to stop their beams, King Ghidorah stopped their electrical assault and charged forth on their mighty wings. Power surged from Bagan’s horns, empowering his body as the great behemoth glared at the false king before him. The nasal horn shifted, moving closer to the center of his head as he leaned forward. Within an instant, he had surged forth, crossing the vast distance between them as though his heavy bulk weighed as little as a feather.

    The sudden burst of speed shocked the three headed serpent, unable to react as Bagan appeared in front of their heads, slamming horn first into their body. The powerful impact knocked the dragon backward, bones snapping like twigs upon hitting the heavily armored bulk of the dark god as they were speared through the chest by all three horns. Pain filled the golden monster’s being as Bagan flung the dragon upward off his head, his nasal horn flinging back to its normal position and slicing through flesh.

    As the golden destroyer was sent backward, it had little time to react as Bagan surged forth with another burst of speed, this time grabbing ahold of the dragon’s tail and slamming them hard against the ground. The earth shook as the foreign invader cratered into the mud, bones breaking and healing as Bagan threw the dragon back toward civilization. Ghidorah flapped their wings, trying to gain air only for the ivory god to barrel into them, shattering the scales on their chest as he slashed forth with his unrestrained power. A cross of energy seemed to form with his strike, rending flesh and scales apart like paper.

    The dragon crumpled across the ground, tearing through the city and sending mud and debris flying. Broken bones snapped and mended while blood pooled out of an X shaped wound with a long cut in the center going through their chest. With a powerful flap of his wings, the destroyer of worlds was airborne, launching themself out of grabbing distance. Snarling, the golden dragon watched as Bagan shot forth beneath him, electricity surging across the behemoth’s armored body as it failed to tackle the three headed monster once more.

    It seems that something had changed in their foe. The right head wanted nothing more than to dive back down and tear into the insolent beast while the center head wondered where this newfound strength had come from. As the other two were arguing whether or not to dive in, the ever so curious left head was quick to act, flinging their body to the side as white plasma scorched past their location, singeing the tips of their wing. The surprise at the now intensified heat ray nearly got the dragon burned as the beam moved after them, stopping momentarily as they flew into the clouds.

    Bagan’s entire being was filled with euphoric joy. The overwhelming strength, his strength, had returned to him. Such a long time restrained made the dragon god excited at the feeling of finally cutting loose once more. The heaviness of his armor was gone, his energy was unending, and his mind was far more clear without the need to protect the traitorous ants around him. As he reveled in his true strength, he glared at the false king hovering in the clouds above. He had a promise to keep. Charging up his power, he fired another blast of his plasma breath, relishing the intense heat it now emitted.

    As the dragon twisted about to dodge another plasma beam, they realized it was not only his strength of body, but the potency of their enemy’s energy that had also increased. The right head screeched in anger that this creature dared to hold out so much raw power on them as the center head began surging their body with a negative charge to prepare for a large assault. Lightning slammed into the dragon’s body from above, scattering and absorbing into the dragon’s scales. It started with a single bolt, before more began to surge through the skies. Bagan watched as bolt after bolt struck the hydra’s body, before eventually the entire sky was alight with golden light, a consistent stream of electricity flowing into the dragon above.

    Electricity surged across his body, converting raw energy into solid muscles as it healed his injuries. The Great Monster Zero roared out, the building energy surging throughout their body and wings before they arched their wings toward Bagan. Three streams of golden electricity shot out of the dragon’s maws, accompanied by more bolts of lightning streaming out of their wing tips. The oncoming surge of energy slammed into Bagan’s forcefield, slowly pushing the ivory destroyer back. Cracks began to form on the barrier, causing Bagan to unleash a fury filled roar. Energy crackled across his spikes as he unleashed his power upward in the form of three energy orbs. The spheres shot past Ghidorah, causing the right head to cackle in mockery. More energy spheres quickly began firing off, trails of electricity following them into the sky as the left head watched on curiously.

    The barrier soon shattered from the empowered assault, scorching the dark god with unholy might. Armor burned under the electrical assault as white electricity crackled over his bare hide, mitigating some of the damage with his own electrical power. Unlike before, the bullish monster held in his painful roars, focusing his power into his shoulder spikes before roaring skyward. Taking their enemy’s roar as one of a dying creature, the center and right heads continued their assault. It was only when the left head noticed a glimmer in the sky that it realized why the spheres had soared past them. Blinding white light lit the dark storm above, causing the multi headed destroyer to stop their assault in surprise.

    As Bagan’s scorched armor began regenerating, he roared out once more, the white light now shooting down like meteors. Glistening white diamonds of pure energy shot out of the stormy heavens, piercing aurum gilded armor like a hot knife through butter. King Ghidorah screeched in unholy pain as the first diamond shot through their wing, crashing into the ground and shattering into blistering hot embers. A second was quick to slice off one of their rattling tails as they dodged a third on its way toward their central head. More began to fall, prompting them to take initiative. If their foe wanted to attack them using their own storm as cover, they would show how useless the attack truly was.

    Wing lightning tore through the skies themselves as The King of Terror twisted about in the sky. Diamonds shot toward the golden hydra at high speed, none striking the more agile aerial monster. Golden electricity tore into white plasma, shattering them and sending particles of light scattering across the raining sky in a myriad of rainbows. Lightning fired from the right head as it continued laying waste to the diamond assault, the center head taking control of moving the body while the left head continued monitoring the surroundings for oncoming attacks.

    To the humans that remained, the stormy skies that once brought despair now appeared as a myriad of color, a deadly dance traversing the now colorful sky as the golden tyrant twisted and dismantled each attack.

    White plasma struck the dragon from behind as the diamond assault ended, scales and flesh scorching under the superheated assault as the beam burned through their wing membrane. Twisting their body around, the king of terror glared fiercely at the damn creature before them that refused death. They watched as Bagan’s burns quickly began to heal up, far faster than their own healing currently was. The holes in their wings were slowly getting smaller, and their tail started the process of regrowing. They had already used up most of the power they had stolen from Bagan’s body healing their injuries, the momentary storm charge having been used up in the ensuing destruction of the energy crystals.

    Bagan taunted the golden hydra from his position on the ground, energy building up as he prepared to fire another blast of his plasma breath. Seeing the sparking electricity flowing across their opponent, King Ghidorah began charging up their own attack, gold lightning crackling across their body and into their maws as they dove down to meet the demon in one final clash. Light gathered around the two demons as they fired their respective attacks. White plasma shot forth, striking the combined might of a trio of Gravity Bolts, neither side giving out. The surging power growing between the two attacks began building tremendously before a magnificent explosion overtook the two dueling monstrosities.

    Minutes passed as the dust began to settle. What was once a beautiful cityscape and forest now remained a scorched plain of hills and ruins. Rising from the muddy ground, King Ghidorah shook his bruised and battered body, burns and injuries bleeding into the mud below. Their left head laid limp at the side, most likely unconscious from the resulting explosion, as the right neck was torn in half from its jawline. Their wings were tattered, but still capable of flight for the moment. They would live, but the destroyer would need to find a place to rest to recover strength.

    The bruised center head looked around the battlefield, seeing no sign of their opponent anywhere. Letting loose a roar of victory, the dragon readied to fly away when a nearby mound of dirt and mud shook. From the ground burst an injured Bagan, blood oozing from several injuries as they started healing back together. The God of Darkness roared into the sky as he searched for his foe.

    Seeing this abomination still alive and somehow even healing, the center head of King Ghidorah knew it would have to retreat if they were to get their revenge. They had this abomination on his knees and dying before something kickstarted a second wind for this creature. They would have to recover and grow his strength before attempting to kill this creature. Flapping rapidly, the dragon took to the skies just as Bagan found them. By the time the bulky god had reached his foe’s location, the dragon was already airborne and about to enter his storm system.

    Rage filled Bagan’s mind. This creature attacked his territory, and now it was retreating all because he had shown his true power. If this creature thought they could escape Bagan’s wrath, they had another thing coming. White Lightning crackled across his spikes as he prepared to fire another Plasma blast at his enemy. Moments before he could, the limp left head suddenly came back to consciousness, a reactive burst of his gravity beam firing from his maw. The golden electricity smacked Bagan face first, blowing up his energy in his face and allowing the dragon god to reach the cover of his storm.

    Time seemed to slow as he watched the dragon’s tails slowly enter the clouds above. Inside Bagan’s mind, he began thinking of ways to reach the cowardly invader. His attacks wouldn’t reach him from this range and he couldn’t leap high enough to deal damage. As his rage at failing his friend’s promise filled his mind, memories began to flow in the back of his mind. Memories of his friend surged throughout the dark energy coursing through him, memories of the days they spent together and the resonant feeling of her death. All these thoughts flowed together like a river of light in his sea of darkness. It was through this light that a new power surged through the dark gods body. For even the deepest depths of darkness must always have a light to give them meaning.

    Shimmering Light burst from Bagan’s shoulder spikes, enlightening the darkness around him. The light began to shift and morph as it spread outward, glittering power surging forth as the God of Darkness took flight.

    Bagan roared out as he chased after King Ghidorah, his wings of light lighting up the darkness of the storm revealing the golden hydra. Ghidorah stared back in panic. They had not expected such a heavy foe to be capable of flight! It hadn’t even had wings to bring it airborne, yet here it was in their storm. In a panic, they attempted to fire gravity bolts at the white behemoth, only for the armored dragon to shoot off into the distance, his presence only being dictated by the trail of shimmering light particles circling about his storm.

    All at once, Bagan’s body surged with power as his claws extended to twice their size. White electricity covered his body as his speed increased significantly, his horns twisting and moving as he prepared to rush his foe. It was then that the alien king felt dread spreading through their body.

    At a speed that belied his size, Bagan sped toward King Ghidorah, white light trailing behind him as he slashed the dragon on the side. Golden scales and chunks of meat were torn off as Bagan sped past. Before the three headed monster could react, the ivory god had already twisted and curved around, speeding toward the dragon once more and severing the right neck with his nasal horn. Another curve in the air led him slashing his large claws across the wing membranes holding the golden dragon airborne as another blow knocked the dragon upward with a slasher claw. Several times did Bagan continue this rush of attacks, his speed constantly increasing as he circled about, slashing across his prey’s body with his horns and claws. Golden flesh scattered in the storm above as the rain turned red with blood, each blow tearing off more and more flesh.

    The King of Terror was in shock as they hovered, unable to move as their foe continuously hacked away at his body. The sky was alight with trailing white light, each illuminating the hydra’s figure as they sped past at Mach speed. It wasn’t until Bagan was hovering above the golden hydra did they realize just how powerful this demon god truly was. As the Ivory God of Destruction sped toward the alien Invader, King Ghidorah unleashed one last resort to hopefully buy them enough time to escape.

    A duo of Gravity bolts shot forth from panicked and shredded maws. Electricity shot out of neck wounds, burning the dragon yet they continued onward, firing the golden lightning and striking Bagan’s shoulder. The shoulder spike shattered under the electrical assault combined with the speed at which Bagan was moving, destroying one of his glittering wings and leaving him off balance.

    Ivory armor slammed into the golden dragon, spinning the two out of control as they shot toward the earth below. Not wanting to die, Ghidorah quickly latched onto Bagan with their two remaining heads and began draining as much as possible. In retaliation, Bagan snapped forth, tearing into and devouring the flesh of the center neck while stabbing his hand into the dragon’s gut. As they shot past the clouds, Ghidorah opened what remained of their wings, catching enough air to flip Bagan over to take the brunt of the fall damage. An explosion of dirt shot into the sky as the two crashed into the earth. The ground shook viciously upon their impact, fracturing and splitting open as lightning struck the ground around them.

    The two monsters laid atop each other, bleeding and broken as the muddied earth fractured open beside them, growing wide enough to swallow them whole. King Ghidorah groaned out as they lifted themselves off Bagan, the latter’s hand having shoved completely through their chest while the dragon’s center head had been ripped off, dead in the maw of Bagan as it slipped into the ravine. The armored behemoth’s white shell was all but shattered, his limbs and shoulder protrusions broken upon impact. The blood of both monsters coated them crimson as the left head turned, finding itself the last remaining head on the main body.

    The golden dragon could hear the panicked cries of more creatures, glancing into the depths of the ravine to see a horde of legged snake like creatures within various opened tunnels and chambers. The ravenous horde tore at the severed head with savage hunger, larger creatures snapping at the smaller ones in order to sate their hunger first. A snarl from the living dragon caught their attention, causing them to quickly drag away the head in fear, retreating back into their holes.

    Crawling away, it looked over their body to assess the injuries, finding several large gashes and holes covering most of the body, one of the tails missing and a leg broken. Unlike the aggressive, battle hungry right head and the battle hardened leadership of the center head, the left head’s purpose was to be cautious and curious in its surroundings in order to watch for hidden and oncoming attacks. As such, it found it in their best interest to use the energy they had stolen during their fall, to heal up their shredded and nearly cut off wings.

    Pain filled the body as flesh and bone rapidly grew outward from the tattered remains of his wings. It was in the left head’s best interest to be able to escape first before regaining strength to fight. As its wings healed enough to maintain a short flight, a huff of breath caught its attention. Turning their last remaining head around, the dragon watched in fear as Bagan slowly attempted to lift itself up.

    His arms were broken, as were his legs and ribs, yet Bagan attempted to get to his feet. Dark flames burned in his blood red eyes as the demon got to his knees, his need to finish this battle forcing him to rise. Before he could rise any further lightning struck his face, tearing into him and pushing him closer to the ravine. The Dark God cringed as golden electricity scorched away half his sight, stopping as it revealed the bone beneath his flesh. White lightning coursed through his healing body as Bagan readied to fire his plasma breath.

    With all his power surging through his body, the dragon turned to fire it all and finish off his enemy. However, he was unprepared to see the bleeding, one headed dragon already airborne, diving feet first toward him. The crack of bone shattering resounded through the land as King Ghidorah slammed into the dragon god’s skull, slashing out the dragon’s other eye with their talons. The hit to the face pushed the former guardian back just enough for his off balance, heavy bulk to cause the muddied ground he stood on to collapse, causing a landslide that pulled him into the dark ravine.

    As he fell into the depths, the God of Darkness roared, unleashing all his power at once. A pillar of light shot out from his body, overtaking and filling the crack in the earth with his power. The screams of the ravenous horde filled his senses as the light lit up their dark caves. Their roars were like a chorus of the damned leading him into hell as he fell from the surface. The Golden Dragon screeched out as the power knocked them backward, watching as what seemed to be a wall of light shot skyward, piercing through the storm clouds and into the recesses of space itself.

    Bagan raged as he felt his power surging out of his body, the pure energy being emitted shaking and destabilizing the foundations of the ravine. Rocks and mud quickly began to fall, as though to fill in the gap left in the earth and Bagan along with it. As the earth began to close on him, something curious began to happen to Bagan’s body. With his body severely injured and low on energy, his super regenerative ability kicked into overdrive, pulling out one last trump card to save his life. Instead of patching him up like new, instead his regeneration expanded outward like a tumorous growth, covering and shielding his body in a cocoon of flesh. As the ground began to collapse above him, the god thought back to the memories of his friend. No matter how long it took, he would be free of this prison, free to get his revenge. Free to take control of this world. Free to ensure his promise would be fulfilled.

    The earth shuddered and quaked as the ground seemed to fuse back together, the wall of light dispersing into the darkness of night. The King of Terror couldn’t believe it. All this trouble, all this pain and near death, all for their foe to succumb to mother nature’s wrath. Anger and relief seemed to fill the dragon’s mind, remembering how its other heads had thought this behemoth would be a satisfying beast to take down. Now however, all it felt was the pain of wounds healing slowly along with the anger that it was not them that truly finished off the foe but an act of nature burying him in the earth. Still, it would take this as a victory for the moment.

    With a single head remaining, King Ghidorah roared to the sky in triumph, spreading his wings as blood continued to leak from his many scars and injuries. What it hadn’t expected, was to get a response so quickly. A mighty roar responded to his call, one far closer and far more powerful than what it had let loose in his injured state. Looking around its surroundings, it wasn’t until a crack of lightning struck the earth miles away that he saw it.

    Glowing blue energy sparking across rocky hide and serrated spines. A glare of anger and determination filling the face of the charging god king. Growling, the dragon knew it wouldn’t be able to take on the oncoming alpha predator with his injuries. With a bark of warning, Ghidorah took to the sky, flying off as the great leviathan neared.

    Seeing the invader leaving so soon, Godzilla roared out in rage as he slowed down. He hadn’t expected for the earth’s dark destroyer to lose. Sniffing the air, he knew that the great destroyer of old was still alive, perhaps swallowed by the earth. Even if he had been holding back in restraint all these years, Godzilla knew that the Dark Titan should have been able to kill this creature. Perhaps the planet itself interfered and swallowed the dark dragon for a future task. Only time would tell if Bagan would return. Until then, he had a threat to the planet to destroy and balance to bring.

    As Godzilla left the area, what few survivors of the titan’s wrath began to gather. Those who had lost their faith in their god began to pray for his return, some migrating away out of grief for their fallen to lands in the east. Yet it was those who had survived the attacks of the forsaken who became the most zealous in their religious fervor. They began praying for the dark god to unleash his divine wrath, seeing their survival as a sign for them to be envoys of his darkness against the ones who would betray them. As such, they would begin to rebuild, even with the destruction of most of their homes and families. Years later, they would begin tunneling beneath the ground, hoping to reach their god once more and document the great battle that had taken place, even with the ravenous devil that made the depths their home. As it was so, with the ability to flourish and sustain life given by the dark god’s unleashed power, humanity would continue to live on in the land of Bagan.

    *****

    Present Day

    Professor Yamane dissected the new information within his mind. Despite orders to stay put, the professor had continued along the path, following the story the walls spoke of as he passed by the petrified remains of various skull crawlers. Soon, he found himself standing in front of two large doors of stone. Engraved onto the doors were the towering three headed destroyer flying above a carving of the Dark God. Yamane knew what the creature facing down Bagan was, yet the runic translations only referred to it as the one who was many. Monarch knew it as Monster Zero.

    If this Bagan was a superpredator on par with the likes of Godzilla and Monster Zero, then this site which was his tomb would end up heavily guarded in order to prevent his awakening. As he touched the door, he noticed what appeared to be a stone button embedded in the wall nearby.

    “Professor, it’s time for the next shift.”

    Xiong’s words went over his head as the professor reached for the button. Silent whispers spoke to him in the back of his mind. A silent, almost feminine voice, beckoning him forth with promises of ancient secrets as he felt the protruding stone.

    “Professor, Do you read me? It’s time to leave this dark place and return to the surface.”

    Pushing the button, he heard the grinding of stone, one left unmoved in millenia. As the doors opened, the radiation detectors in his suit began to rise, a large gush of heat pushing against his body as he saw what stood behind the doors. His camera system began malfunctioning as the power being emanated short circuited its systems.

    “Shit the radioactivity near him just spiked and his camera systems shut off. We need to get him out of there now!”

    Yamane walked forth into the chamber, staring in awe at the massive chasm before him. In the midst of this chasm, a large orb of flesh pulsed with life, white lightning coursing through its veiny surface as heat and steam vented from its surface.

    “Captain Xiong,” he said, staring with hidden glee at the discovery of this alpha titan’s dormant state, “Be sure to send a message to Monarch that I will not be accompanying Dr. Miya to Sergio Island. I believe I will be staying here to study this Bagan further.”

    Unbeknownst to the professor, something began to stir in the depths of the fleshy cocoon. A mind left slumbering for millenia slowly began to stir. Unknown sounds, muffled by his fleshy prison, began filling his once silent sanctuary. Yet, among these new sounds, familiar noises and unusual calls could be heard echoing through the world. There was a conflict in the air, one that Bagan knew he would be forced to awaken for, and with his awakening, he would find the golden dragon and finish their battle. White lightning coursed around earthy brown armor, claws clenching as the dragon continued to slumber. Soon, he would awaken and fulfill his promise. Even if he had to destroy the world to do so.

    Winner: King Ghidorah (Legendary)

    K.W.C. // November 20, 2020
  • Author: Joel Forsberg | Banner: Landon Soto

    With a howl of satisfaction, Gabara kicked another building away.

    After years of torment, the colossal ogre had finally found a perfect domain. He had ventured out to terrorize humanity, to finally claim territory for himself. But no matter what he tried, Gabara found himself defeated by some other kaiju.

    When he returned to Monster Island after his years of searching, he had been excited to vent his anger on his favorite victim, Minilla. Though Gabara found the son of Godzilla, another offspring of the Monster King has appeared in the green brute’s absence, and a very angry Godzilla Junior chased the emerald ogre out of his own home.

    Defeated and disgruntled, Gabara wandered the Earth until he found this place. The city below him was called Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos archipelago. But Gabara did not know that, nor did he care. The only thoughts rattling inside its mischievous mind was the fact that he had finally found his own place to stomp into the ground.

    Amidst Gabara’s ecstatic rampage, a strange, high-pitched roar echoed through the air. The feline-faced kaiju snapped out of his daze and turned his head to the source of the noise, but the rocky beach revealed nothing. Gabara shrugged, and turned back to his reign of destruction.

    Another roar caused Gabara to snort angrily and whip around once more, his left eye visibly twitching. This time, however, he was greeted by the sound of rumbling. Gabara stared in confusion as a massive chunk of stone broke from the shallows.

    The ogre’s gut reaction proved incorrect as the creature arose. It was no rock, but a massive shell! Water cascaded off the shell’s sides as Kamoebas stepped upon the sand. He had been circling these islands for months, feasting upon seals, iguanas, and the occasional boat. This was his hunting ground, and he was not going to lose it. The turtle slowly rose to the land and turned to the green invader in his home, letting out another screech.

    A wicked smile spread over Gabara’s face, baring yellow teeth. Under normal circumstances, he would be angry that his reign of terror was interrupted. But this shelled monster was barely taller than the pre-pubescent monster prince. The bully cracked his knuckles and started toward the beach, snickering all the way. He was eager to make a memory; the memory of him smashing the first threat to his new domain into turtle soup.

    Kamoebas shook off the last of the water and lumbered toward the ogre, who had entered an excited jog. The terrapin waddled toward the invader, but Gabara was too fast. The green ogre kneed Kamoebas in the nose, eliciting a squeal from the chelonid. Gabara didn’t let that stop him, striking again from the left, then from below. Kamoebas’ head was batted around like a ball, making him dizzy and disoriented, but he still found enough clarity amongst the beating to heavily stomp down on Gabara’s foot. The invader howled in pain and stepped back, grabbing his foot and hopping around the other, crushing multiple buildings in his fit of pain.

    Kamoebas shook his head, trying to get his brain back in place. As his spasm ended, the turtle stared at his agonized foe. With surprising speed, he waddled toward Gabara and crashed into his remaining leg, toppling the bully with a roar of triumph. Gabara let out his own cry as he fell into the street, face planting into the asphalt. The lumpy green monster slowly rose to his knees, just in time to see Kamoebas charging back toward him. Gabara leapt to his feet as his loggerhead foe charged, and delivered a punt beneath Kamoebas’ chin. The walking island skidded to a stop, stunned from the blow, and groaned.

    With a reverberating laugh, Gabara reached under the shell of his enemy and flipped Kamoebas over. As the turtle squealed, he beat on his underbelly and neck. Even with the hard shell underneath, the blows were felt with all their force on Kamoebas’ ribs and organs. He flailed his limbs, but to no avail as Gabara continued the beating with his cackles of excitement. To him, it seemed Kamoebas was to lose this battle. The turtle, however, still had an ace up his sleeve.

    With a deep breath, Kamoebas extended his neck out to the same length as his body. It struck Gabara in the gut, forcefully knocking the air out of him. A wheeze left the bully’s lungs and he hunched over, grabbing his stomach. As the ogre tried to gasp for air, Kamoebas seized his opportunity. Launching his neck out again, he sunk his fangs into the side of Gabara’s head, driving out a scream from the horrid toad as he shook his head, attempting to shake the terrapin’s firm grip, but somehow managed to accidentally flip Kamoebas – and, hence, himself – over in the process. Gabara was smashed into a small neighborhood and Kamoebas landed on his feet, albeit very ungracefully.

    Although disoriented, the turtle kept his grip on the ogre. Gabara screeched again as Kamoebas dragged him through the neighborhoods and streets, shoving his warty body through concrete, steel and asphalt. As he neared the beach, Kamoebas loosened his grip, and with a swift movement of his head, the turtle tossed Gabara into the sea. The ogre’s green arms flailed above the water, accompanied by bubbles from his screams of fear.

    Kamoebas watched the water as his foe flailed about, eventually sinking below the waves, fingertips disappearing with a final burst of bubbles. The water became calm. The only sound was the gentle slap of waves hitting the beach.

    The chelonid screeched in victory, believing he had won, and began to turn his back to the waves.

    Without warning, Gabara burst from the waves with a reverberating cry. Before Kamoebas could turn to face him once more, the bully grabbed the turtle by the tail. Gabara’s horn then began crackling with neon blue energy, which traveled down his arms and into the turtle’s body. Kamoebas squealed as his whole body was exposed to the voltage. Violent spasms plagued him while Gabara laughed. Kamoebas could not hit the bully with his short legs, and the shaking of his body prevented him from turning around.

    Gabara’s cackles continued as he shocked Kamoebas, pleased with his foe’s suffering. Electricity, however, was not enough to satisfy his bloodlust. He began dragging Kamoebas backward into the water, where he would then pummel the creature into the seafloor.

    His mistake, however, was not letting up on his electricity attack as he did so.

    When Kamoebas hit the water, the electricity traveled through it and into Gabara. The ogre felt his own attack surge into his legs and up into his body. The voltage made him stand stiff and upright, and he let go of Kamoebas’ tail. Even without his grip on the turtle, the electricity kept surging through Gabara’s body for some time, allowing Kamoebas to escape his grasp and run onto the land.

    As the final surge traveled up to Gabara’s head and through his hair, Gabara stopped his convulsions. His hair blackened and tongue sticking haphazardly out of his mouth, Gabara couldn’t help but think of all the previous victims of this attack. The ogre found himself no longer blaming Junior for the barrage of atomic rays fired at him.

    Snapping out of his trance, Gabara watched as Kamoebas retreated inland and snarled, following after the rocky-shelled turtle. As he stepped onto the shore, Kamoebas flipped around, eyes rolling in his head. The electricity had disoriented him, but he was not about give up. Using his new path, Kamoebas announced his attack with a screech and charged toward the cat-goblin. Gabara responded in like, snarling and running.

    The two monsters charged each other with no sign of stopping. Cars and street lights were crushed in their wake, but they didn’t care. All they wanted was to rip the other to shreds.

    As the kaiju got close, Kamoebas tilted his head to snap Gabara’s thigh, but the brute was too quick. He brought his other leg around and struck Kamoebas in the throat, causing the oversized terrapin to choke and stop. Gabara, however, did not follow suit. With his right hand, he grabbed Kamoebas behind the jaw and unleashed a barrage of punches into the mutant’s face. Kamoebas cried out with each punch, giving Gabara a feeling of glee. But while the beating was satisfying, Gabara wished to not give the reptilian another chance to retaliate. Gabara reached his other hand behind Kamoebas’ head, and his foot on the turtle’s shell. With a mighty heave, the ogre pulled on Kamoebas’ head, attempting to tear it off.

    Kamoebas squealed as Gabara pulled, feeling the tension on his neck. Gabara, in turn, laughed and pulled harder.

    He kept pulling.

    And pulling.

    Eventually, the bully realized something was wrong. With a quizzical grunt, he looked at the turtle, wondering what had happened. Kamoebas met his gaze with blank eyes, looking somewhat unworried. Gabara furrowed his brow. How had the creature not been decapitated?

    He looked over Kamoebas’ head to see his extended neck, which had adapted to the bully’s tugging. With an amused chortle, Kamoebas quickly pulled his long neck back into its shell. Gabara was tugged along with it, and the momentum caused him to slam his face into the terrapin’s hard carapace. The warty ogre screamed and pulled his hands away to caress his broken nose, trying to numb the pain.

    Kamoebas shook his now freed head, trying to get rid of the dizziness. Another one of Gabara’s screams brought him back to reality, and he snarled. He compressed his neck even further, attempting to store up more energy, and set his eyes on the stunned feline’s gut. However, the electricity and beating together had disoriented Kamoebas. He launched his assault, but its destination was a bit lower than he had originally aimed.

    The turtle’s head struck hard and true. Gabara tried to scream, but the sound caught in his throat with a choking sound. Tears welled up in the bully’s eyes as he fell to his knees, his mouth frozen in a silent scream as he grasped the injured area.

    Kamoebas retracted his head and observed the oni’s reaction. His attack was a lot more effective than expected, but the chelonid was not one to complain. He took his opportunity and struck Gabara once more, this time in his already shattered nose. Gabara was sent back flipping into the water, landing in a colossal belly flop. The resulting splash traveled through the air and farther inland than even the destruction from the two monsters’ rampage. As the water flooded through the streets, Kamoebas kept a careful eye on the ocean. He had learned about assuming the death of his foe from his bout before, and he was not going to make the same mistake this time.

    Bubbles rose to the surface. Kamoebas tensed up, waiting for his foe to reemerge…

    Belly up, Gabara rose out of the water, clearly unconscious. Drool dripped from the monster’s open mouth as he began floating away, into the open ocean.

    Kamoebas watched as Gabara floated away, eventually becoming a green speck in the distance. Another cry of victory escaped the turtle’s maw, but this time it was final. After finishing his victory screech, he slipped into the water. The battle had left him hungry, and he could go for some seal.

    Winner: Kamoebas (Showa)

    K.W.C. // November 11, 2020
  • Author: Andrew Sudomerski & Tyler Trieschock | Banner: Landon Soto

    Deep Space – 1973

    There was only comfort in isolation. And for countless eons, it embraced the empty vacuum, going through the basic repetitive routines of its existence. Its birth was irrelevant. Survival was the only necessity to thrive in this cruel void. The nothingness, for endless ages, was its only home. But an urge pulled it to a globe of green and blue, a place it had never been to before. Was destiny giving it a chance at a new life? To prove itself worthy to live in a heartless world? Following its instincts, the amorphous lifeform dove towards the massive sphere.

    The time spent falling was nothing short of progressive. Time accelerated as gravity took hold of its form. However, it wasn’t long until it found itself splattered against the hull of a metallic capsule. Orbiting across the ocean of emptiness, the Helios-7 was a research vessel collecting data of unknown organisms within Earth’s exosphere. Little did it realize that it would serve as a ride for an alien organism from galaxies far away. Acting on primordial instinct, the amoeba clung to the vessel with all its might. Its cells, adapted to the absence of heat, were able to withstand the bitter void, which did not bother it in the least. So when it seeped through the cracks and navigated its way to the interior, it began to torture the men aboard Helios-7.

    Their screams faded before Helios-7 fell back into the atmosphere.

    And so, the Helios-7 plummeted to the wideness of the Pacific Ocean. The world would learn of its tragedy later that week, as the spacecraft vanished beneath the oceanic surface. Little would anyone know the truth of the matter; a virus from far beyond our world settling in, adapting. The first set of earthly victims of the amoeba would never tell the tale of what happened…

    *****

    Lagos Island – 1973

    Confident human eyes gazed upon an unbeatable leviathan.

    The three-headed dragonoid scanned all in its presence, uncurling golden lips to reveal razor sharp teeth. Bright hot energies sparked within the beast’s three maws. The air rippled from the intense heat gathering near the dragon’s jaws as it prepared its signature weapon of destruction. A bright light encompassed the humans as they witnessed the colossal creature’s unmatched power first hand.

    Gravity bolts tore into the ocean with unrelenting fury. Geysers of superheated vapor blasted high into the atmosphere, blanketing two men in a colorful mist which blanketed the ash-covered rock surrounding them. But even partially blinded, they could not look away from their biological creation, which possessed the power they desperately searched time and space for.

    An irradiated mutation born through manipulation of the past.

    A creature that ignited hopes for a brighter future.

    A monster their enemies would curse with hate until they vanished from existence itself.

    King Ghidorah.

    *****

    Pacific Ocean – 1973

    Caressed in gray clouds on a humid summer day, Smokey traversed nearly 10,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. It remained invisible to the luminance of Earth’s star, but the heat was getting the better of the ship’s crew of three.

    “Big brother, are we there yet?” the young Akira complained, drenched in a layer of his own sweat. This was about the fifth time he asked, and frankly, it was getting under Hotaru’s skin. She knew they were almost there. Heck, she was steering the aircraft to their destination, but her younger brother just didn’t have patience. Even then, the sweat underneath their homeworld uniforms would prove to be a pain to wash off. And to believe they bathed just earlier this morning. Of the three siblings, only Hikaru kept his cool.

    “Almost,” he replied in a confident tone, “We’ll start descent in less than five minutes.” Smokey’s cockpit only consisted of two seats for the pilots to fly. Not that Hikaru minded. It was his responsibility to search and repel any major threat, kaiju or alien, and transform if it had to come to it. And according to the reports from their parents and grandfather, there was something lurking on one of the Bikini Islands.

    Hotaru couldn’t help but recall what their father said to them earlier in the day; a cluster of shipwrecks washed ashore on some of the nearby islands. The inhabitants, though far and few between, also accounted for that of an unidentified object within the vicinity. The specifics, however, were rather vague and conflicting. Some claim it to be the Oodako family, others Ebirah, and others something different altogether. If it was truly a space monster, it had her worried. Were the Garogas already here, scouting Earth before sending their armada? She prayed that this wouldn’t be the case. Sucking her teeth under her pink face veil, she decided to drop it. Her questions would be answered in less than a minute, so she would have to see and find out.

    “Should I start the descent?” Hotaru asked, with a tinge of nervousness.

    “Go ahead. We’re here.”

    Trying to mask her anxiety, Hotaru set Smokey on a steady slope down. “Activate the mist and keep Smokey concealed,” Hikaru said. Flipping switches on the control board, Hotaru encased their handy transportation vehicle into a cloud of thick fog. Although the effects were not immediate, at least they didn’t need to withstand the sun’s ultraviolet rays and heat waves anymore.

    Hotaru, relieved not to be at high altitudes, grabbed hold of a two-way handheld transceiver. Unlike those from the human military, these were wireless with a bandwidth that well surpassed the technology of the time. Small and compact, these ‘Zobots’ came in handy with long-distance calls; but for family only.

    “Land Supi to Mirifa. This is Zone Angel,” Hotaru spoke, clearing her voice of any downcast, “We’ve arrived at the site, and we’re going in. Over.”

    “This is Mirifa, this is Mirifa,” their grandfather, Raita, buzzed in from the other side. “I’m detecting anomalies that weren’t there before. Contaminated blood and several–” The feed abruptly cut off, arousing suspicion from the three.

    “Strange that we’re getting interference this far out,” Hikaru remarked.

    “And it’s concerning,” Hotaru noted, “What did grandpa mean by contaminated blood? I get there are waste fills in the Pacific, but I don’t think it’s that.”

    “I’ll go out and check. You two keep an eye out.” His younger siblings simply nodded in agreement.

    Smokey continued its decline, the friction of the air encompassing the aircraft. Straight ahead was their destination. Lagos Island. For the last few decades, this section of the Pacific was considered a hazard due to heavy exposure to radiation during the Atomic Age. The island, once undoubtedly harbored lush greens and silky white sands, was a dead-man’s land. Brittled trunks and charred bark stood erect, the sands coarse and ashened. Lagos had been devoid of natural life for a long time.

    While radiation proved to be toxic to humans, a Peacelander wouldn’t have much to fear. Their biology was naturally tolerant of high doses of nuclear material, although they could die if they were exposed for too long. In addition, they would still need radiation-cleaning for the safety of their environment and others. So when Hikaru leapt out of Smokey and into what was essentially a contaminated zone, his siblings knew there wasn’t too much to worry about.

    The g-forces pushed against Hikaru’s human shape as he continued to accelerate from free falling to his destined location. While he could easily enter flight mode at any time, he wanted to have a little bit of fun now that time allowed it. Performing a series of gymnastics he would see often on the television during his off-time, Hikaru enjoyed the current of the breaking wind cooling his body from the sweat sustained from the flight here.

    “Really, Hikaru? Really?” Hotaru muttered, softly chuckling at her brother’s antics as she brought Smokey to a slow halt. Outside of her and Akira, there was no one else watching. So why even do it?

    Akira, too, watched with admiration. ‘One day, big brother,’ Akira thought, indulging in his fantasies, ‘I will be the next Zone Fighter.’ However, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something.

    “Big sis, look over there!” Akira pointed in the general direction that he saw this object. Hotaru glanced where Akira was pointing, surveying the clouds. For a second, she didn’t notice it. But it was then that she noticed the object. A silhouette of something… Otherworldly. The even stranger part, she was confident either herself or her older brother would have noticed it first thing.

    Hotaru’s eyes widened. Had her greatest fears come to fruition? Without hesitation, she got a hold of the Zobot to contact their brother regarding the situation. “Zone Fighter, this is Zone Angel, do you copy?” Hotaru shouted, her voice cracking, “We have a reading on something!” Instead of their brother’s voice from the other end of the transceiver, only static greeted their auditory senses.

    “That’s not good…” young Akira muttered, “But it has to be from that UFO! No doubt about it!”

    “I agree. We’ll…” she paused, conjuring a plan in her mind. “We’ll investigate the spaceship, while Fighter scours the island for any clues.” Akira nodded. With that, the two pilots of Smokey veered a course to the object hovering in the cloudy sky.

    *****

    As the free fall closed the gap between him and the land below, Hikaru ceased his flashy airborne spins and flips. Arms outstretched and straightening his body, Hikaru took flight and skillfully settled on the coarse, blackened sand with ease. Ash and salt kicked up from his landing, though Hikaru’s face veil filtered most of the particles. His eyes surveyed the setting. A desolate wasteland, barren and fruitless.

    ‘It’s sad to think humans are capable of such destruction.’ He released a heavy sigh. ‘So many races have fallen into the trap of self-centeredness and waste, and it seems the Earth created monsters in response to these dangers. But they’re also capable of accomplishing great things. That cannot be denied–nor forgotten.’

    Before venturing in for clues, Hikaru twisted his head to observe the shrouded Smokey. While the camouflage rendered it invisible to the untrained eye, Hikaru’s sharp senses allowed him to see the vessel taking flight. But toward what? Before he could do anything, he heard something directly behind him. Swiftly turning around, he saw a massive figure rise from the ocean depths.

    “That answers that, I suppose,” he retorted to himself, dashing inland to avoid the wake of the strange beast.

    The waters churned as the first piece of the mammoth monster made itself known. A golden, snake-like head whipped out of the shallow ocean, glistening with water and shining in the presence of the few strands of sunlight breaking through the gray clouds. Its deep red eyes fixed on Hikaru’s tiny form with awareness. Massive water droplets, with the size akin to boulders, rained down from the dragon’s serpentine neck. Hikaru reflexively doged each and every one, sans the water globules from the exploding boulder-sized droplets. He needed to put space between him and the kaiju, and fast. Transforming too close to the enemy and they could easily take advantage of his brief vulnerable state post-transformation. Putting mild distance between them would help him observe the enemy in case of any surprise attacks and give him time to react accordingly.

    Hikaru outstretched his hands and took flight, then twisting his head he saw that wasn’t the full creature he witnessed. Two more identical heads with long necks shimmered in the light as the shores tore apart from the dragon’s gargantuan wings rising up. Cascades poured off of the golden dragon’s body as Hikaru recognized its shape.

    “King Ghidorah…” Hikaru quietly muttered. He recalled reading about this one when he and his family were conducting their research in human history. Though it was strange, as the terrible monstrosity he saw right in front of him differed from the photographic evidence provided by various news articles. Maybe an immature member of the same species? He wasn’t sure. Even as Hikaru found himself deeper inland, Ghidorah’s shadow gradually caught up with him as the terrifying ziz stood completely upright, letting all the loose water roll down his scaly hide. Ghidorah flexed his wings, outstretching them to the point where they blotted out the sun’s rays. Truly, a horrifying sight to behold, yet so majestic. But Hikaru had no time to admire or fear the monster. He had no choice, he had to fight.

    “Here goes nothing.” Hikaru turned around and made another perfect landing on the charred surface. The split-second he could get his footing, Hikaru knelt on one knee and brought his hands in front of him. He closed his hands, only leaving his index and middle fingers out as they pressed together. He brought both of his hands up, with the fingers directing all the needed energy into his helmet’s protrusion.

    “Zone, Double, Fight!” Immediately, a swath of light enveloped the young warrior. Not even a second passed as he grew at an exponential rate. The light deformed his body, altering it to be fit for this new form. Bigger and bigger he became until the light reached a size suitable for his gargantuan humanoid body-type. As the light dissipated, the gigantic humanoid only met roughly at Ghidorah’s neck bases, where the necks joined with the main body. Adorned by silver and blue patterns with jagged red streaks and a waist-belt with a blue light, it was time for Hikaru to show off the power of the Zone’s heritage and legacy: Zone Fighter!

    Six eyes glared at the new arrival. They held no disdain, anger or fear of the humanoid, but for Ghidorah, his thoughts didn’t matter anymore. His mind was now a prison within his own body. The humanoid was a threat, as his masters dictated. It was not his choice to choose to fight or flee and there was no room for backing down or disobeying their commands. In the end, Ghidorah held no choice, he had to fight.

    Ghidorah initiated the conflict when the maw of his central head generated concentrated energy. Within seconds, a wild burst of electric light crackled through the air, but Zone Fighter was quick to evade the first bolt. The other two heads followed suit, putting the massive humanoid’s athletic abilities to the test. The Gravity Beams carved the surrounding earth, exploding with sparks and chunks of flying boulders. For as impressive as a feat it was evading Ghidorah’s bolts, nothing could last forever.

    Gravity Beams soon found their mark, pounding against Zone Fighter’s massive figure. Sparks erupted from his body, scattering across the ruined Lagos Island. As Zone fumbled to get back to his feet, Ghidorah continued to press the assault without hesitation or mercy, knocking the champion of justice around as Ghidorah took several steps forward. Within the brief interval that his body wasn’t being bombarded by Gravity Beams, Zone Fighter generated energy in his hands and brought them together. Curving outward and bringing his hands down, Zone created a flat barrier reminiscent to that of a medieval knight’s shield. And just in the nick of time as the Gravity Beams struck against the pink energized shield. The Meteor Reflection Barrier, rather than dispersing the energy, took in the kinetic force of the beams and bounced them right back at King Ghidorah!

    The golden dragon shrillishly cackled, feeling the wrath of his own beams and ceased firing. He needed to adopt a different tactic, and so he did. Flapping his enormous wings, Ghidorah shook off all the leftover moisture and propelled into flight, heading straight for the Zone hero. With enough time passed to recuperate, the meteor man leapt back and allowed the energy to flow through his body. As King Ghidorah shattered the Meteor Reflection Barrier with his incredible mass, Zone Fighter charged his body with a burst of light and vibration as he made a mad-dash to meet the terrible beast head-on.

    Literally flying across the ground with his Meteor Jet ability, Zone and Ghidorah collided against each other in a massive shockwave, with the heroic fighter planting a firm Meteor Punch directly into Ghidorah’s chest cavity. Despite the golden creature’s incredible weight, thick scales, and pure muscle mass, the jet-like velocity combined with the powerful punch was enough to hurl the gargantuan hydra into the charcoal terrain on his back.

    Zone Fighter took advantage of this by leaping on top of the fallen dragon, throwing a series of quick and successive hooks and punches that broke through the sound barrier with each strike. Each of Ghidorah’s heads were on the receiving end of the relentless onslaught, with none of them given the time to retaliate due to the massive concussions inflicted on them. As each of the heads went limp from unconsciousness, Zone Fighter planted his knee directly on the middle head’s trachea with light charging on his right hand. His last Meteor Punch should do the trick. Zone Fighter screamed as he brought his fist down, but alas it was not meant to be.

    Even on the brink of unconsciousness, Ghidorah’s left head powered through the concussion and clamped his dagger-like teeth into the descending arm. Ghidorah pumped the arm full of his own energy as sparks and lightning flew off of the bite wound. Reeling from the pain, Zone Fighter cried out and backed off. The head limply released its grip, unable to hold out any longer.

    The alien warrior inspected the wound he received, still feeling the aftershock coursing through his arm and shoulder. Simultaneously, he observed the unconscious Ghidorah, wondering exactly how much time he had to spare. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t as long as he hoped for. Even after suffering a series of concussive blows that would have rendered any other monster or Terror-Beast immobile, Ghidorah proved to be nothing short of stubborn. Even if this wasn’t the demon of the galaxy, this lesser Ghidorah was every bit as worthy to be called one. Dizzy and disoriented, King Ghidorah recovered from his unconscious state with his heads writhing on the ground. It looked like Zone was going to have to pull out the big guns.

    “Meteor Missile Might!” Zone Fighter shouted aloud, with his arms crossed over his chest. In a flash of light, each of his wrists were strapped with gauntlets, ready to open fire on the recovering Ghidorah. Now he would prove to the three-headed imposter his true might!

    *****

    Smokey crept in close to the stationary aircraft, hidden in their own artificial cloud. This saucer was unlike anything the humans had on record; it wasn’t Xilien nor Nebulan in nature, it wasn’t even of Garoga influence. What was clear in the minds of Hotaru and Akira Sakimori was that these guys, whoever they might be, were up to no good.

    “How are we going to get in?” Akira questioned. The unfortunate part in Hotaru’s mind was that it was a legitimate query. She hadn’t quite figured that out herself. Since the saucer hadn’t moved since they arrived, it was a safe assumption that they hadn’t been spotted. The crazy idea crossed her mind to just use Smokey to engage it in a dogfight, but she wasn’t sure if such a rash decision would be a wise thing to do. They had to be a threat, but the extent of their capabilities were unknown. A stealth-based tactical approach would have to do, at the very least, to get a better understanding of who or what they were up against.

    As Smokey closed in, hovering beneath the bizarre aircraft, Hotaru observed a pair of elevator-like doors protruding from the underside. “There,” she remarked, “I think we have our ticket into whatever this thing is.” She tapped on the control board, activating Smokey’s auto-pilot and kept it temporarily parked under the saucer.

    “Sis, look!” Akira exclaimed, pointing out of the cockpit window. Hotaru decided to glance out the window herself to see what exactly piqued his interest. From their vantage point, they could see Lagos Island and the unfolding battle happening before their very eyes. Their elder brother, Zone Fighter, locked in combat with a familiar figure recorded in human history as King Ghidorah, each hurling Gravity Beams and Meteor Missiles at each other.

    “Wh-what is this? King Ghidorah?!” Hotaru was indisputably shocked at seeing one of the galaxy’s most infamous threats here. Even before they arrived on Earth, Hotaru always recalled the myth of King Ghidorah as a fearsome destroyer from her youth. An apocalyptic punisher who, as legend has it, was born alongside the universe during its conception.

    “Maybe these, uh… Uh…” Akira struggled finding a good terminology for these visitors.

    “Aliens, Akira. They’re no different than us or the other races, at least to Earth’s inhabitants.” Hotaru stated.

    “Right. I knew that.”

    “Come on, we have to see what’s up. Maybe these visitors have the answers we’re looking for.” She pressed on the button that opened the roof door. It slid open, with Hotaru signaling Akira to follow her. The two siblings flew out of Smokey, with their Zobots in hand, quickly arriving in front of the doors in a matter of seconds. They scanned the surrounding area, surprised to see that there weren’t any cameras present.

    “I don’t see anything,” Hotaru noted, “Let me know if you see any air vents we can use to get in.” Her younger brother nodded. Yet before they could do anything, the doors automatically opened and a swarm of humanoid guards already drew out their advanced pistols.

    “On behalf of the Equal Environment of Earth Union, you are both under arrest for trespassing on government property,” the guard stated robotically, “put your hands behind your head, or we will open fire.”

    Hotaru was stunned. ‘Did they really have cameras already set? Or had they known of our arrival beforehand? What’s the Earth Union? EUGH!’ she winced, venting her mental frustrations. Realizing this, she quickly resumed a stoic expression, praying no one noticed. The unexpected predicament they were in didn’t have room for them to slice through the group of soldiers. Not only were they vastly outnumbered, but the ethical consequences of killing humans didn’t sit well with her.

    ‘At the very least, maybe we can talk with someone to figure out what’s going on here,’ she thought to herself. So she complied with their commands when she put her hands behind her head. “Come on, Junior,” she insisted, addressing Akira by his heroic alias as she hid her Zobot out of sight. He quietly complied, doing much the same, and was quick to do what she asked of him.

    “Good,” the guard was satisfied with their course of actions, “now follow us.”

    *****

    Zone Fighter and King Ghidorah warped the landscape with their onslaught of projectile weapons. They kept their distance from one another, though it was abundantly clear that golden hydra was more of a tank than the meteor man. Ghidorah ceased firing, shifting gears into a defensive stature. Tough membranes that were the wings concealed his body as the dragon tucked his heads within the empty space. Missiles continued flying amok, only to find that those that reached their target were merely deflected by the wings. Even worse, he started walking through it.

    The alien hero was hard pressed to believe that the Meteor Missile Might, one of two weapons he often resorted to as a last ditch effort, was as ineffective as it was. True, he was against a member of the Ghidorah species, so it wouldn’t be a cake walk. Still, it was concerning nonetheless. But now that Ghidorah was wrapped behind his wings, there had to be an exploit Zone Fighter could yield to his advantage. Then he saw what he could do.

    “Meteor Jet!” Zone cried out, summoning his jet-like speeds once more. Coated in a bluish glow, Zone Fighter closed the gap between himself and Ghidorah again. Time which Ghidorah had to prepare. Anchoring his golden trunks into the charcoal earth, the protected hydra pulled the weight of his twin tails, intending to use them as maces. Seeing through Ghidorah’s instinctual plan, Zone used the momentum built up to perform a twirling leap, completely avoiding the mace-like tails. This, in turn, left Ghidorah’s back completely exposed; focusing all the kinetic energy into one leg, Zone Fighter defied the laws of physics and plunged his sole directly into Ghidorah’s spine! Although it wasn’t enough to dislocate a spinal disc, as the scales and muscle absorbed most of the impact, the force was enough to plant Ghidorah into the crust, unable to unfurl his wings in time.

    Using Ghidorah’s back as a springboard, Zone Fighter spaced himself apart as to prepare for his actual finisher. Bringing his forefingers to his forehead antennae, it flashed with a brilliant light. This, in Zone Fighter’s mind, should do the trick.

    “METEOR PROTON BEAM!”

    A sharp blue laser darted out, lancing into Ghidorah’s golden hide with resounding success. An explosion of gold sparkles and red blood gushed from the wound, eliciting an animalistic cry from the three headed monster. For one reason or another, hearing Ghidorah scream struck a chord with Hikaru. It obviously wasn’t the first time he heard monsters cry out; plenty of the Terror-Beasts were more than capable of imitating pain, though that was only a survival mechanism implanted by the Garogas, as to avoid destruction. It wasn’t like they had the capacity for empathy. Even the Ghidorah known to Earth was nothing short of an engine of destruction, only screaming in wrathful fury when in pain. But this was different… Concerningly different. But Zone had a duty and an objective. This was a Ghidorah, and it had to be stopped.

    No matter the cost.

    Ghidorah’s scales and muscle mass buffered enough of the Proton Beam so as not to completely eradicate his spinal cord. Nevertheless, it was going to be painful to move around. Using his wings and legs as support like that of a quadruped, Ghidorah regained his footing and hissed at Zone Fighter.

    “Huh, I didn’t expect those wings to be so elastic,” he noted to himself. He glanced at the belt around his waist, noticing the blue hue shift into a concerning yellow. ‘The sooner, the better.’ The hero readied for round two until his ears began to buzz with static….

    *****

    A few moments earlier…

    Hotaru and Akira found themselves surrounded by human-like guards and encased in the confinement of this mysterious vessel. The interior wasn’t at all what Hotaru would have expected. It had a strange retro-sci-fi vibe… But she assumed there was more going on under the surface than she could comprehend. Even their rifles were akin to human engineered weapons compared to the other known races.

    They continued walking down the corridor in relative silence until they reached what Hotaru only assumed to be the main quarters of whoever these visitors were. The sliding doors opened, granting them access to the control room. With it, came many indecipherable screens, numerous other guards, and at the center were two distinctive figureheads who differed from everyone else.

    “Sir, we’ve detained the Peacelanders as you instructed,” the M10 guard stated. Hotaru and Akira were aghast at what they just heard, but didn’t utter a single word.

    One of the two Caucasian men, adorned in a business suit with graying hair, dismissed them with a wave. Immediately, all but one scattered and returned to their original stations. The one who remained, caucasian as well with short golden hair, stared at them with a smile which emitted a cold chill down Akira’s spine.

    “Who are you people and what are you doing here?” Hotaru demanded, in need of answers.

    “My my, direct and to the point, aren’t we?” the civil man responded before he began to walk toward his guests. “I am Chuck-”

    A crack emitted beneath Wilson’s foot stopping the man in his tracks. As he raised his right foot, blood, guts and other fluids of a small crab lay at the bottom of his sole. A look of distaste from the blue fluids took hold of Chuck before he wiped his sole against untainted ground.

    “Apologies, we were on the island a few moments ago and it seems the wildlife grew attached to our ship. I’m Chuck Wilson, and this is my associate, Glen Chico.” Glen Chico, the other man with red receding hair, offered his formalities. Unknowing of how to properly react to all this, the children bowed as a reluctant greeting. “We are here on behalf of the Earth Union,” Wilson continued, “collecting an experiment that will benefit all mankind.”

    “Don’t you mean the United Nations?” Akira questioned.

    “No,” Wilson corrected, “not in the least. Besides, I need some answers from you two. Exactly what it is you’re doing here?”

    “That’s none of your concern!” Hotaru snapped.

    “That so? Because if I recall not one second ago, I stated what our business was here. Equivalent exchange, I’m sure you understand.”

    Hotaru sighed. “We received reports about shipwrecks near here. So we were investigating… I guess these are also part of your ‘mankind saving’ experiments? Using a monster to kill innocent people?”

    Glen Chico’s eyes widened in confusion. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

    “The golden dragon thingy,” Akira intervened, “the creature that’s fighting our brother!” Hotaru motioned for him to zip it, but the damage had already been dealt. Akira gestured an apology.

    “I assure you, we and our Ghidorah have not done any harm since we arrived in this time-” Chico mistakenly commented merely to glance at Wilson who simply rolled his shoulders.

    ‘Wait, ‘our’ Ghidorah?’ Hotaru thought to herself, ‘How did they make their own Ghidorah?’

    “There is no harm in explaining Glen. Would it really change anything?”

    “You’re not of this time, are you?” Hotaru inquired as all the pieces in her mind began to form a single thought.

    “Very absurvent. Yes, we are from the 23rd century. The Ghidorah below is something of our own creation and we know all of you from records of our time describing your feats. The worship of heros continues even to our own time.”

    With a mere flick of Glen’s wrist, screen doors slid open to reveal multiple hi-tech projector screens. On them were surveillance footage of Zone Fighter, Ghidorah, the island, and its surroundings. Hotaru observed closely and realized all of these differentiating angles were impossible for standard drones to even observe, almost like a film.

    “If everything is going like you said it is, then make him stop fighting!” Akira demanded sternly, “We don’t want to fight you!”

    “Of course,” Wilson stated aloud, “so long as you tell Zone Fighter to do the same with your… Zobots if I recall our records correctly. They should work now as our communications were blocking your own.”

    *****

    Golden light gleamed within the dragon’s jaws, rippling the air from its heat, but the act did little to scare the mighty hero standing valiantly against the dragon’s onslaught. In preparation, Zone Fighter planted his feet deep within the ground and channeled energy to his fingers. ‘Come on, let’s see how you like a second round of the Reflection-Barrier.’

    Before either enacted their strategies, King Ghidorah’s light began to fade. Fury-filled eyes of King Ghidorah dulled to passive stares. The three heads turned their attention away from Zone Fighter, appearing to chat amongst themselves in complete obliviousness of his opponent. The buzzing in Zone Fighter’s ears gradually morphed into a familiar female voice, drawing his attention briefly away from his opponent’s strange activity.

    “Brother, please stop fighting Ghidorah. He will not attack as long as you don’t!”

    An unrecognizable gasp echoed from Zone Fighter whose fists tightened with concern. ‘Stop fighting? Hotaru, what are you thinking? It’ll bring destruction and terror to everyone and everything!’

    Zone Fighter kept his hands raised in a fighting stance. ‘No way I can let this thing live. I’ll need to end it now while it’s passiv-’

    An eerie bioluminescent light attracted Zone Fighter’s focused gaze away from his foe to the nearby waters. Whatever glowed, it was large in size and just beneath the coastal waters. Believing this to be the moment of betrayal, Zone Fighter switched his attention to Ghidorah, his fists sparking with energy for a Meteor Slice, merely to see the dragon equally focused on the light. Zone turned away, unsure of his next action only to see more lights in the ocean. He counted… One… Two…

    …then the ocean emitted an overwhelming light as far as the horizon stretched.

    *****

    “See, all friends here. Now, if you all wish to return to Smokey, we will be taking King Ghidorah back to our own timeline,” Glen enthusiastically explained to the pair.

    “Hold up a sec!” Akira stated with his arms raised. “Why do you have a Ghidorah here in the first place? Equivalent change and all that!”

    The enthusiasm seeped away from Glen who looked to Wilson for guidance merely to see his superior now staring at his hands with a look of unrivaled curiosity. Glen’s left eyebrow raised in uncertain concern, but with a shake of his head, he focused on more pressing matters. Deciding it best to answer, Glen began to walk over to the pair.

    “Godzilla in our time has gone on to destroy Japan completely, so we created a new King Ghidorah to combat him. We first arrived in 1992, but… we realized quite quickly the great machine we built traverses not only time, but space as we found a past unlike what we knew. A world in war, in ruin and overrun with-”

    Glen stopped his movement and shivered a moment in disgust and terror. “After the discovery, a few of our team stayed behind in that time while we dropped off our creation in your timeline’s 1944. Now, we’ve returned this year to retrieve our Ghidorah. Once he is safe, we’ll ensure our M10s will escort you-”

    An energy blast tore through Glen’s skull like paper leaving a headless corpse to fall onto the floor. Nearby computers exploded from the energy shot sending sparks showering across half the room. Miniature explosions from electric circuits took hold of the control room as monitors sparked uncontrollably while the perpreator formed a smile as he retracted his smoking weapon.

    “How… interesting,” Chuck Wilson commented as he looked at the gun, admiring it with intrigued, wide eyes. Before he could do anything further, a long kick from Hotaru struck him across the side sending him ragdolling across the room. Sickening pops reverberated from the human before he came to a stop, his body twisted and mangled.

    Hotaru stood over the broken man, her right arm outstretched so Akira would not see the state of the madman beneath her. “You… you killed your friend!”

    Wilson’s head turned beyond any normal limit, breaking cartilage as he gazed up at Hotaru. “To this body, he may have been a friend but to me-” Blue ooze began to glisten from the multiple wounds covering the Futurian’s body, “-he is nothing more than inferior. For I am all things. I am Yog.”

    “You’re a parasite.”

    Wilson’s eyes shifted their gaze to the flickering screens above Hotaru. “Oh, I am far greater and soon-” Hotaru looked at the screen, revealing Ghidorah, Zone Fighter, and an army of new monsters arising from the surf, “after I infect those two, I’ll be unstoppable.”

    Wilson’s body fell limp while a blue substance oozed from his dead jaws. An audible sound of disgust filled Hotaru’s closed mouth, but before she could utter a word, the room around her began to tremble. Sparking computers morphed into a swelling blaze, quickly enveloping half the room in its wake. A small hand yanked Hotaru out of her stunned state and forced the young woman to run while the fires rapidly spread.

    “Come on sis!” Akira yelled as he directed her to the door which they arrived through. Upon passing the door, Hotaru stopped in her tracks and glanced back to the massive screen showing the horror gradually unfolding beneath them. Fires glistened beneath the live feed, mirroring the racing of Hotaru’s mind. ‘Maybe Hikaru won’t have to fight this horde alone…’

    *****

    From the surf they arose in mass from their master’s order. Mere cuttlefish in origin, the squids now were mutated to monstrous size from the interstellar being coursing through their veins. Gezora, the Yog hive mind nicknamed these creatures. Tentacles dragged across the sand, gradually depriving it of all material until nothing but course rock remained. Greed filled the eyes of Gezora’s cold gaze inland to Zone Fighter, the hive mind urging the cuttlefish to restrain the humanoid so he too could join their collective. For with the warrior’s power and the dragon’s might, they could become more than just a meager army.

    The world would tremble beneath the might of Yog.

    Zone Fighter felt an iota of fear course down his spine from the horde which spanned the horizon. ‘Wait… so did these… are these what Father and Mother detected?’

    A ping in Hikaru’s ear snapped him out of his fear merely to hear the sound of running and harsh breathing.

    “Brother, can you protect Ghidorah?”

    “Wait, what? Hotaru?” Hikaru responded in surprise. “There are new creatures, a horde of…”

    “It’s a parasite!” Hotaru snapped in response. “They can control living beings and want to add you to its collection with Ghidorah.

    Zone Fighter’s gaze locked on Ghidorah’s fallen form, sparks cascading down his left arm. Aiming methodically for its necks, the warrior’s left arm raised, ready to unleash a ray which would end the immobbile creature. “If I kill Ghidorah, that won’t be a problem.”

    “There are too many!” Hotaru yelled, causing Hikaru to wince. “Besides, we need to stop the Yog here. If we let them escape, the parasite could spread. Hold them off and we’ll control Ghidorah from our ship?”

    “We will?” Akira’s voice skeptically inquired.

    “It’s the only way,” Hotaru assured.

    Zone Fighter refocused his attention on the horde of cephalopods and with renewed determination, he felt the fear which momentarily froze him vanish. Small steps evolved into a resolute sprint toward the incoming swarm and as he approached the hundreds of Gezora racing toward him, Hikaru uttered no words in response to his siblings, for they already possessed his trust and respect. All he needed to do, as always, was face the impossible. A mission Hikaru accepted without question as he launched a fist into the mass of flesh.

    The warrior’s hand tore through Gezora’s flesh like tinfoil, taking Hikaru by surprise as his hand punched through the back of squid’s head. Azure blood sprayed from the wound, red eyes rolled back into the creature’s body and with a thud, one Gezora lay dead in the shadow of Zone Fighter. The tremble of the earth from the remaining hundreds kept Hikaru’s first victory muted.

    An all encompassing screech of anger let loose from the horde of Yog, tentacles surging toward Hikaru’s body as the full swarm reached his position. The slimy appendages grasped nothing but recently vacant air as Zone Fighter rolled under the tentacles and reached safe ground. Outstretching his own arm, the hero of justice grasped a number of tentacles and pulled. A Gezora flung forth toward the hero who swung his right leg into the parasite infested creature, launching brain matter onto its kin as the leg ripped through blue flesh.

    ‘Can’t keep killing them single file like this. Time I jumped in.’

    With a determined yell, Zone Fighter launched himself into the air, evading a fresh wave of tentacles. His arms outstretched and flying at full speed, the horde watched the warrior perform an aerial loop before Zone Fighter flew parallel to the ground and like an arrow flying through the air, tore through all in his way, leaving a trail of dead or dying Gezora in his wake. Feeling his momentum slowing, the alien warrior tilted back up toward the open sky merely for tentacles to ensnare his legs. Whipping the hero back to the ground, Zone Fighter collided with the recently dead, creating a cloud of dust and azure blood.

    The horde of hundreds descended upon the fallen warrior, encircling him from every direction, but Zone Fighter refused to suffer such a grim fate on his back. Jumping to his feet in an instant, Zone Fighter demonstrated his defiance with overwhelming strength. His right fist cleaved the entirety of a single Gezora’s face off. Blood sprayed upon three squids who angrily charged forth, waving their slimy appendages in an act of intimidation. A spin kick plowed the trio of cephalopods to the blood stained dirt while a single elbow strike upon a squid behind the warrior ruptured its eye and sent it screeching backward in anguish.

    Even as the dead began to pile up, Zone Fighter felt no relief. The horde which encompassed him showed no sign of ending, no sign of stopping and their icy grip seemed ever tighter with every passing moment. Then, in unison, the swarm launched itself toward the hero from every direction. Tentacles constricted Zone Fighter while bodies buried him in a growing, monstrous mass.

    A few Gezora, scattered across the charred landscape, stood ominously as they watched their kin throw themselves upon the warrior. Inside their bodies, the unified Yog hivemind relished the sight and awaited the inevitable. The frigid bodies of Gezora would make resistance impossible, even for the powerful Zone Fighter, and soon he would become nothing more than another vessel. A new, unbeatable-

    The pile of Gezora atop Zone Fighter vanished in a monumental explosion and fire ballooned into the heavens. Within the blaze, a humanoid shadow arose with silver bracelets upon its outstretched arms and as the fires gradually died, Zone Fighter stood triumphant, bathed in the blood of Yog. Charred flesh crashed upon the earth like rain, a deathly gaze emanated from Zone Fighter and the bracelets upon his wrists clinked as they reloaded another volley for imminent fire. The horde of Gezora, or specifically the Yog’s hopes of a quick addition to its army vanished as Zone Fighter lifted his arms and screamed in defiance, “Meteor Missile Might!”

    King Ghidorah remained still on the warm, rocky terrain it lay upon. With no orders, it could not move any part of its body and so, like a prisoner within a cell, it remained stagnant, watching the horde of squids be shredded in a spectacular volley of explosive firepower.

    Why was the battle occurring? What were these new creatures? Simple questions like these entered the dragon’s mind, yet were disregarded with little care. For the only question the dragon truly desired to be answered, was when would shatter the submissive chains which bound him? When would it be free once again?

    *****

    Hotaru and Akira felt the ship listing beneath their feet as they dashed down flickering hallways. Sliding, metallic doors became nothing more than a blur to the pair as their eyes eagerly awaited for one particular entryway. Yet as distant detonations reverberated through the deteriorating vessel both knew their time of escape was fading. The groan of metal followed another tilt of the ship, turning the floor’s twenty degree angle to a thirty degrees.

    “How much farther!” Akira whined.

    “Not too much, just keep running!” Hotaru retorted through harsh breaths.

    The flickering lights surged with power and faded, acting as a precursor to the ship listing another five degrees.

    “We’re almost running on the wal-”

    “There!” Hotaru shouted in relief as the pair turned a corner. “Get behind me Akira!”

    The confused eyes of Akira snapped to her sister. “Wait, what do you mean?”

    From outside the Futurian vessel, metallic doors burst open and began a long descent to the land below. Hotaru, her shoulders extended so she could ram through the door, morphed into a suitable flight orientation as she flew toward the Zone family aircraft. Right behind her, Akira floated forth with his arms slouched, relief dripping from his expression.

    “That-that was close. I wonder how much time we had le-” Akira’s eyes widened in terror as he looked back to see the air which once housed the Futurian ship now vacant. An explosion of metal far below made the child forcibly laugh to himself as he entered Smokey with a vacant stare, ignoring his sister who scrambled onto the smokey’s communications.

    “Land Supi to Mirifa, this is Zone Angel. Do you read?” Hotaru urgently shouted. ‘Please let the interference be gone.’

    The line remained ominously silent until a familiar voice soon came to life, bringing great relief to Hotaru. “I am dear. What’s wrong?”

    ‘Yes! Now the hard part.’

    “Mother, we need grandfather’s help to save Hikaru. Can you reach him?”

    “Already here,” Raita Sakimori assured over the Zobot communication line. “When you three didn’t check in, your mother reached out to me in the lab. What do you need?”

    “Can you hack King Ghidorah?” Akira enthusiastically inquired.

    “Excuse me?” Raita replied while Hotaru sighed, clutching her forehead. “It’s a long story.”

    *****

    Standing over charred, dismembered pieces of at least a hundred Gezoras, Zone Fighter took a moment to catch his breath. A few battered and bloody Gezora still walked across the landscape to attack, some peeling themselves off the blood soaked land, but a single well placed strike ended their existence. ‘Timer’s red, but at least I cleared most of them. Maybe I won’t need King Ghidorah’s help after-’ Hikaru snapped his attention to where the dragon lay stagnant merely to see in the opposing horizon a far larger horde of creatures composed not only of Gezora, but two new creatures.

    The hivemind, once enraged, now grew arrogant with the unveiling of its full might and the deployment of its newest creations. With red eyes which extended from an exoskeleton covered body, multi-legged mutated crabs lumbered forward in the midst of its Yog kin. Snapping elongated pincers, the beasts Yog nicknamed Gamines would be a great asset along with the other, reptilian creatures hidden beneath black shells. The massive turtle mutations, or Kamoebas, crawled forth, ready to implement its master’s will without hesitation.

    A furious punch from Zone Fighter floored a nearby Gezora before he burst toward King Ghidorah to intercept the swarm. ‘Were all squids just a distraction? An easy win so I wouldn’t notice the main threat? Hopefully these new creatures are just as easy to kill.’

    Running at full speed, Zone Fighter jumped into the air and retracted his legs, soaring over King Ghidorah whose eyes watched him with intrigue. Touching down at the edge of the hydra’s wing, Zone Fighter rushed only a hundred meters more until he came face to face with the forward forces of the horde or specifically a lone Ganimes. A kick fueled with Zone Fighter’s momentum struck the crab’s abdomen, violently cracking the exoskeleton, while the mutation’s right claw sliced across the warrior body. Blood leaked from both wounds, yet each combatant showed little sign of giving in as they charged at each other.

    Zone Fighter ducked under Gamines’ swipe and moved beside the crab, unleashing two mighty blows upon its exoskeleton. Each fractured the protective shell, causing blue blood to leak, yet the crab showed no signs of slowing when it swiped at Zone Fighter again. ‘Alright, it’s far tougher but I can’t get caught up on this thing. I need a weak point!’ Spinning under the swipe, Zone Fighter swung his right leg outward and retracted it in, burying Gamines’ head into its own body with the heel of his foot. ‘And, found. Now…’ Zone Fighter spotted a nearby Kamoebas to practice on prior to the main swarm’s arrival. ‘Let’s see how strong you are!’

    Zone Fighter dashed forth, taking the turtle by surprise from the humanoid’s speed. Retracting his right arm backward, the warrior launched it with all the strength he could muster at the beast’s shell causing a sickening snap to echo. The sound of two bones breaking in Zone Fighter’s right hand. A monothlitic yell escaped Hikaru lips as he clutched his hand and from his pain, Kamobas found an opening and clamped its maw around the warrior’s left thigh. Hammer like blows struck the top of the turtle’s head in a desperate effort, but Kamoebas refused to let go. Infuriated, Zone Fighter clutched the terrapin’s skull and forced its thumbs into the creature’s eye sockets, impaling brain matter. A weekend howl echoed the turtle’s jaws before it finally vanquished its grasp, allowing Zone Fighter to stagger away from the dead creature.

    ‘Even tougher… great!’ As the ground began to tremble, Hikaru took a fighting stance and summoned latent energy to his arms. King Ghidorah would not fall into the parasite’s realm of control, not as long as he drew breath.
    .
    *****

    “We have an issue,” Raita’s voice echoed within the cockpit of Smokey. “We can’t remotely control King Ghidorah.”

    Hotoru and Akira looked to one another in panic. “What!” they yelled in unison before Akira proclaimed, “But, you gotta!”

    “Huh well these, Futurians you called them? They’re tech is impressive for humans. They used a high pitched frequency to send orders and another to enforce their demands. This second signal was their key. I can imitate the first frequency, but the second alludes me. Their key alludes me…”

    “So we can’t help Hikaru,” Hotaru worryingly questioned.

    A tired, old breath coupled with static echoed in the call. “No, we can. Using Smokey, I can send out a signal to break the lock on Ghidorah.”

    “So basically we free him and have to ask him nicely?” Akira remarked with dread. “Maybe brother doesn’t need help?”

    Hotaru nervously pulled up optical sensors within the command center of Smokey to assess the situation. A live visual feed of Zone Fighter’s position appeared revealing the warrior desperately fighting a literal sea of flesh and his timer now glowing a dire red.

    Hotaru, filled with concern, dug her gloved fingers into the control panel. ‘Brother, just hold on a little longer.’

    *****

    “Meteor Slice Chop!” Surging crimson energy from his fingertips, Zone Fighter thrust both his arms out, each angled to perform optimally. Arrow-shaped blasts sliced through the air, shredding through the limbs of the Gezoras like paper. Even the Ganimes caught in the crossfire were susceptible to the energized cutters, disarming the mutated crustaceans in the process. The Kamoebas, however, proved durable enough to withstand it, though it did chip their reinforced armor.

    ‘No matter how much it takes, we must fight!’ A Ganime rushed up to him, the meteor man shifted combat styles and plunged his fist into the disgusting visage of the cretin. Its eyestalks and mandibles caved in from the tremendous force of the impact, the ensuing kinetic energy flinging the dead crab away from him. Even so, a quick glance to his belt buckle was already cause for concern. ‘It’s still red. I have to let them know.’

    His compound eyes scanned what was in front of him, prepared to take down the next Yog spawn. However, unbeknownst to him, his Achilles’ heel shot with a sudden, sharp pain. With a twist of his head, Zone Fighter saw the dark shelled terrapin gnawing at the back of his foot. Before he could prepare another Meteor Slice to do the deed, he was suddenly jumped by a pair of Ganimes’, one of which was an unusual white color. Using his strength, he wrestled with the shelled triad, but found himself slowly overwhelmed.

    From the eyes in the sky, the pilots of Smokey came swooping down. “Zone Fighter, this is Angel, we’re coming in!” Hotaru glanced at Akira, and they both nodded. Fighter was in imminent danger, and he needed the help he could get.

    “Meteor Proton Beam!” the siblings shouted in unison as Hotaru pressed down on the joystick’s buttons. From the frontal nose of the alien craft, a searing blue laser washed over the aquatic marauders, eviscerating the brown Ganimes and carving off a piece of the Kamoebas’ face in the process. Freed from their grip, Zone Fighter hurled the white Ganimes to the side and, in an act that mirrored his siblings, brought his fingers to his antenna.

    “Meteor Proton Beam!” From the red-tip of his forehead protrusion, a bluish beam struck the albino crustacean and promptly ignited in a glaring fireball, even if it was far from the end of it. However, there was still a chance, so long as they could pull it off.

    “Akira, prepare for Zone Marker replacement!” Without missing a beat, Akira’s fingers prepared for the ol’ switcheroo. From Smokey’s belly, the red-tipped cap lowered into the outside world. “We only have one shot at this,” Hotaru added. “We have to be within 90 meters of Fighter, otherwise it won’t lock on.”

    Suddenly, the cockpit rocked violently. “What’s going on?” Hotaru’s eyes furiously scanned her surroundings until she noticed the source of their predicament. For a moment, she thought she had hit some terrible turbulence so low–but the reality was everso more unsettling. From the ground, many of the Ganimes reared their heads back and spat volleys of coalesced seafoam from their mandibles. While such a feat would be nigh useless against their brother or the mighty Ghidorah, the force of it was still enough to crush humans into paste. Or in this instance, bend metal.

    One of the watery spitballs thwacked on the nose cone, warping the metal and displacing their aerial momentum. “We lost the laser cannon!” Akira bluntly shouted, “We need to pull up!”

    “Hang in there,” Hotaru muttered under her breath, eyes laser focused on her brother, who was starting to lose balance from loss of Proton power. “Now!” Simultaneously, they cried aloud, “Zone Marker Change!” and fired the cap directly at the meteor man. The expired cap adorned on his head fell as the new one came in its place. He could feel the Proton power course through his giant form, the belt shifting from red to blue in an instant.

    Energized and prepped, Fighter gave a simple thumbs up. If nothing else, it delayed the worst of it–provided this ongoing war would ever come to an end… As Smokey was forced to retreat into the artificial clouds of its own creation, Zone Fighter saw a shift in behavior from the unusual lifeforms.

    “Wait… Are they….” Before he could complete his train of thought, he saw the others of the Yog-spawn divert their attention directly to the other target: King Ghidorah.

    “Oh no you don’t!” The meteor man boldly proclaimed, whipping out his Meteor Missiles Might bracelets into action. A flurry of missile fire erupted around them, temporarily halting the mad fiends in their place, if not outright destroying them in the process. Leaping to the air, the renewed Zone Fighter landed directly in front of the mass horde, eager eyes desiring to add them to their army.

    ‘As much as I’d hate to admit, I could really use its help right about now,’ he silently confessed in thought, continuing his relentless onslaught.

    If the threat wasn’t stopped here, then the entire world would befall into doom.

    Serpentine slits could only scan the environment around it, unable to act in accordance with its will. These dead shores and the basking sunlight reminded it of a time long since passed. Nostalgic memories flowed into its suspended consciousness… A place it had once called home. A home stolen by the great flames that forged it into the superbeast it now was. For a time, such a feeling granted it freedom, but much like the stasis it was in, was denied by its former masters.

    It saw the humanoid and the amassed army of sea monsters. They converged upon him, and he fought back rigorously. For what? Even if it was against its will, hazy memories recalled their recent bout. This alien man was a fighter and no doubt fought to kill. Was it… It couldn’t. Perhaps as a byproduct of the swarm that befell them, were the alien’s intentions truly altruistic? Unable to control its facial muscles, Ghidorah gawked idly from the lonely coast of its deserted home.

    Then, its eyes snapped violently as a sharp ringing resounded in its consciousnesses.

    A mental lock unhinged, decompressing the pressure that had plagued its brains for so long. For the first time in its existence, feeling returned to its body. Bat-like wings, feet, and tails stirred sporadically, at long last acquiring a body that belonged to it. Pulsating red sparks circulated around its heads, each one emitting their own cries of jubilation.

    As it reoriented itself to its will and control, Ghidorah continued to observe the fight that unfolded before their very eyes. All that transpired turned less and less favorable for the alien warrior. As strong as it was, even this proved to be far too much for them to handle. Ghidorah’s facial muscles contorted into a grin. Perhaps as a means of repaying the favor, the beast came to a decision. Not out of some comradery act of selflessness or righteousness that moved its wild heart.

    No, it was to prove a point of who the strongest really was.

    Hikaru continued to struggle, but a familiar darkness began to creep in from the edges of his sight. Appendages became numb from the multiple tentacles of Gezora which clutched his body. Gurgled sounds escaped the constricted warrior’s throat merely to fall on malicious ears of the horde which surrounded him. A tentacle gradually arose above the endless sea of creatures, dripping animated blue blood which contained the pure essence of Yog.

    The hivemind grew impatient as the torn appendage raised over an open wound on Zone Fighter’s body, waiting for a large droplet of blood to ensure the infection. Regardless of the time it would take or the tenacity of the humanoid, the Yog would grow stronger and soon, no living creature would be able halt the conquest of Earth. All would be Yo-

    A goliath of golden skin crashed in front of Zone Fighter, caving in the head of a Kamoebas and the body of a Gezora. Before the swarm could realize the situation, hurricane force winds blew dozens away while lightning like blasts ignited those too close to Zone Fighter’s body. Creatures burst into flames around the warrior’s body, creating a wall of fire which none of the horde dared cross. For now they faced a new opponent, one free of its chains and ready to unleash the pent up rage it harbored for so long.

    The horde of Yog would fear the wrath of the mighty, the unshackled, King Ghidorah.

    A wary cry echoed from each maw of the dragon and on bat-like wings the hydra ascended into the air. Its flight proved short lived as it crashed down upon the back of a Kamoebas, cracking its sides and flattening the soft flesh with its shell. Blood and organs jettisoned from the holes which the smooshed Kamoebas’ appendages stuck out of and standing proudly on the shell of the creature it killed, Ghidorah unleashed a torrent of gravity beams on all foolish enough to squirm in its shadow.

    The dragon took special interest in the cephalopods, frying them with such precision their fiery corpses littered the battlefield more than any other creature. Ganimes boiled within their shells from the energy blasts, venting steam from their cracking crustaceous exoskeletons; however, unlike their dying Yog infected kin, Kamoebas by the dozens crawled forth under the chaotic barrage. With heads retracted, the mutated sea turtles dragged themselves closer and closer to their attacker, infuriating the dragon.

    King Ghidorah’s three heads ceased their assault. Animalistic sounds barked from each draconic maw to the other on what to do with the persistent reptiles merely for each head to nod in agreement. Turning their six eyed gaze to the nearest Kamoebas, a continuous, triple gravity beam cascaded across the creature. The massive outer shell at first held strong, but its durability quickly faded. Sparks enveloped the Kamoebas while its deathly cry signaled to all its breathren its gruesome death, fires encompassing the fresh corpse.

    A once slow crawl evolved into stampede for the Kamoebas group, shaking the earth with reptilian heels. The sudden burst of speed took King Ghidorah by surprise and from its momentary confusion, three reptilian heads extended forth and clamped their jaws upon golden scales. Wails of anguish cried out from the dragon’s heads before it refocused on Kamoebas clutching its wing. King Ghidorah’s three heads snapped upon the neck of the creature and ripped its maw off his body before swinging it wildly like a club. The other two Kamoebas clutching him retreated to their shells, but the horde around Ghidorah could not hide so easily, allowing the hydra to flatten dozens. As flesh finally tore from the reptile’s neck, the gravely injured Kamoebas which acted as a club flew into the swarm and crushed a lone Gezora beneath its bulk.

    The Yog, its parasitic essence watching behind every set of eyes in the horde, grew furious by the display of sheer power from King Ghidorah. This dragon, imposing its size and strength may be, would succumb to it. It, the Earth, all would eventually be Yog!

    Tired breaths escaped Zone Fighter’s faceplate. The beeping of his color timer kept the alien warrior aware of every precious passing second as his belt flashed red while his mind raced. King Ghidorah’s unequivocal rampage through the mutated army proved an invaluable ally, but he’d grow tired soon, an opening would appear and just like his fight, the dragon would fall. Hundreds still remained and even if most of the creatures were focused on mostly focused on him-

    Rocks rustled behind Zone Fighter’s wary body. A new Gezora, appendages flailing wildly, charged toward Hikaru merely for the warrior to spin and thrust his elongated hand through the cepholopod’s head, right between its eyes. Blue blood spurted around the warrior’s embed arm, the squid’s eyes rolling up until the creature fell plummeted to the charred dirt, dead.

    Another tired breath exited from Hikaru.

    -it wouldn’t last for long.

    ‘Hotaru and Akira only had the one recharge pellet. Even with another, would that be enough?’ Hikaru chuckled at the irony as he remembered his thoughts arriving to the destroyed isle. ‘I need some humans capable of destruction right about…’ Zone Fighter’s eyes widened every so slightly while his gaze shifted to King Ghidorah, watching the dragon burn a Ganimes and a Kamoebas to smoldering corpses with his gravity beams. ‘Or maybe, just one of their creations.’

    Zone Fighter stood tall with renewed confidence, the dire buzzing of his timer ever present, and pressed the Zobot within his right ear. “Hotaru, Akira, do you read?”

    “Brother!” Akira excitedly replied. “Wait, what happened with Ghidorah?”

    “He’s fighting the swarm, why?”

    “He’s not under our control,” Hotaru admitted in a resentful tone. “We can request him to do things, but that is all.”

    “I knew protecting him would make him like-”

    “Akira!” Hikaru interrupted, “Tell Ghidorah to unleash his gravity bolts on me.”

    The communication between the two brothers fell silent, surging with life as Hotaru yelled, “Are you mad?”

    “It’s the only way to end this, please,” Hikaru assuredly pleaded only to continue, “and make sure you tell him not to hold back.”

    With silence returning to Hikaru’s ears, he focused on Ghidorah, awaiting the sign his message went through.

    Four separate sets of pincers launched forward, puncturing Ghidorah’s golden scales. Harrowing cries echoed from all three maws of the dragon until rage forced action. Gravity bolts spewed out in every direction, setting fire to two Gezoras and one Ganimes. Yet even as the trio of creatures perished, seven more took their place, forcing Ghidorah to screech in defiance. The horde retorted with action.

    Tentacles lashed out, entangling the dragon’s left head while Kamoebas’ heads launched out of the horde and grabbed a hold of the right head as well as the hydra’s legs. Pulling from every direction, the sea of mutated creatures struggled to make the golden creature bow, but as their relentless struggle intensified, Ghidorah felt itself inching toward the charred dirt. Realizing it was losing even with its immense strength, golden wings flexed out of the horde and with a mighty swing, launched Ghidorah into the safety of the open sky.

    Kamoebas, too stubborn to release their grips, plummeted like rain upon the mob who looked on with a unified glare of envy. Furious growls echoed from the swarm of Yog-mutated beasts, but Ghidorah cared little for their intimidation display, taking the moment to catch its breath and look upon what remained of the horde. Even after slaughtering so many, staining his golden scales with their blood, an endless swarm of the beasts remained. After the relentless fighting throughout the day, the dragon dreaded the thought of continuing any furth-

    Messages suddenly flooded the hydra’s three minds, orders to fire gravity beams upon the humanoid which protected it, sending Ghidorah into a bout of rage. He would not heed these new directives. It was free, it was… Ghidorah’s heads looked to one another, slowlying grasping it held control over its body. Was this a mistake? If they could ignore the orders, why would he receive them?

    A humanoid bellow rattled the heavens and drew the dragon’s bewildered attention as well as the hundreds of eyes of the yog swarm below it. Upon finding the source, King Ghidorah discovered Zone Fighter standing proudly, its left arm raised high with his right pounding his chest in affirmation. A second, confident yell echoed and as the horde began its charge toward the humanoid, Ghidorah’s three heads formed amused smirks, golden energy glistening within their maws.

    Zone Fighter’s open hands fell to his sides as the sky above him began to glisten a golden glow. Tremors rattled him from the approaching army of Yog, the charred earth beneath his feet fractured from the sheer approaching mass and his timer’s beeping notified him of the few dozen seconds he had left, but all the dire signs failed to sway Hikaru, even as golden bolts discharged toward him from Ghidorah’s maws.

    For what was there to fear? He would not be dying this day.

    “Meteor Reflection Barrier!” Zone Fighter proclaimed for all those that dared fight him.

    A curved shield, composed of hardened light, materialized in front of the warrior and upon its outward facing plate which reflected the silhouette of King Ghidorah, the gravity bolts struck. Lightning like blasts rained down upon the barrier, ringing it like a drum and causing it to become brighter and brighter until a mighty gravity blast descended upon it. The continuous, triple gravity beams flowed like water into the radiating shield, its glow rivaling the sun, and as King Ghidorah finished unleashing his reserves, Zone Fighter reached out and grabbed his creation’s edges.

    Immediately, the fingers of the warrior burned, sizzling from contact with his creation, but Hikaru refused to allow the meager damage to stop him. Hearing the barrier cackling with Ghidorah’s energy, Zone Fighter knew he possessed little time and pulled with every ounce of strength in his possession to reposition the angle of the shield. The ground cracked under Hikaru’s heels, small flames ignited around the warrior’s fingers, and a steady yellow drowned out the stampede toward his position. Gradually, the barrier shifted from a one-hundred and thirty five degree angle to a ninety degree formation, giving Hikaru a small sense of relief as the Yog horde nearly reached his position, their silhouettes reflecting in the barrier of light.

    Watching the Reflection-Barrier cackle with energy, Hikaru couldn’t help but launch his arms outward in defiance. This would be the moment the Yog, and all under its vile control, vanished from his planet!

    “Reflection Barrier: Gravity Maelstrom!”

    As if on cue, the barrier produced a singular gravity bolt of unparalleled size and destructive potential. The single Gezora standing directly in front of the blast vanished in a golden light and after it vaporized, all those behind it followed it into oblivion. The protection of Ganimes’ exoskeleton or Kamoebas’ shell failed to stop the blast and just as quickly as it tore the first Gezora to molecular dust, it cut a blinding hole through the swarm.

    The Yog horde’s charge transitioned into a disorganized frenzy as the beasts moved out of the blast’s way, but Zone Fighter would not allow their escape. Grabbing the shield once more, Zone Fighter pulled with all his might and shifted the barrier’s angle, sweeping the Gravity Maelstrom’s bolt across the landscape. Horrendous screams of hundreds of Yog filled the air, Zone Fighter too screamed in agony as he felt the skin on his fingers sizzle away, but the bolt continued firing until the alien warrior completed a three-hundred and sixty degree turn, his fingers burned to the bone.

    The Reflection-Barrier’s shield fragmented into nothing but droplets of light and with its departure, Zone Fighter collapsed to the charred landscape in exhaustion. The warrior pried his vision off the ash covered ground, watching a dark shadow encompass his sight, before he fell into the pits of unconsciousness.

    The familiar light of day welcomed Hikaru as his consciousness returned. To his left and right, Hotaru and Akira sat respectively, visibly smiling through their facial coverings at the sight of their brother’s awakening. Hotaru fought back tears in her eyes while Akira looked away, crossing his arms and doing his best to obfuscate his joyous sniffling.

    “I knew… you’d be fine,” Akira remarked, stuttering as he found it difficult to speak. As Hikaru’s hand placed itself atop his younger brother’s head, the child’s emotional barrier gave way to a warm hug upon his older brother.

    With one arm clutching his younger brother, Hikaru peeled himself off the ground and swept his gaze past his siblings to what lay beyond. In the distance, monstrous corpses set aflame lay scattered in every direction. The source of their burning showed no interest in hiding its actions as Ghidorah spat gravity bolts, vaporizing what Hikaru could only assume to be the remainder of the mutated swarm.

    A hand rested upon Hikaru’s shoulder, drawing his gaze to Hotaru. “The Yog is gone,” Hotaru affirmed with a confident nod. “Whatever’s left, he’s been burning since we got to you.”

    Hikaru looked back to King Ghidorah, a sense of unease and relief rushing through him greater than any lingering pain he felt. ‘So… what are we going to do with you,’ Hikaru contemplated.

    “So, we keeping him?” Akira remarked, breaking Hikaru and Hotaru’s thoughts as their eyes became wide in shock.
    “Why?!” Hotaru shouted.

    Akira eyes narrowed, his arms crossing once more in apparent disgust. “He saved big brother. We gotta help him out.”

    “It was an alliance of momentary, strategic convenience!” Hotaru snapped only for Akira to tilt his head, drawing a sign from Zone Angel. “It was only temporary.”

    “Ohhhhh, well we still gotta.”

    The rustling of Hikaru staggering upright attracted the squabbling pair to their sibling. Jumping to their feet as well, Hotaru and Akira noticed a confident, familiar smile form beneath Hikaru’s face veil, putting them both at ease.

    “We’re going to help him,” Hikaru affirmed without a trace of doubt in his voice. “And I think I know just the place he can live in peace.”

    *****

    Skull Island – 1973

    Within the chaotic storm walls which swirled around the island’s perimeter, monstrous flora and fauna dotted the archipelago’s landscape under near sunny skies. The ravenous emerald allosaur, Gorosaurus, hunted herds of Sker Buffalo across empty plains merely to see a familiar beast of golden scales descend on the far side of the island. Without hesitation, the beast unleashed a wail to alert all battle capable monsters and most importantly, the island’s king, before he charged toward King Ghidorah.

    Zone Fighter touched down in a sea of lush jungle and rolling hills. A harsh gust of wind blew past him while the ground ferociously quaked from the three-headed dragons landing just a dozen meters behind him. With a simple nod, the hero instructed King Ghidorah to follow, but the shaking of the ground halted any movement. From the jungle, beasts of monstrous size enveloped the pair, encircling every angle of the duo.

    Gorosaurus screeched with frenzy, bearing his serrated teeth in preparation to tear the vile invaders apart. Baragon continuously roared while he knelt low to the ground to pounce on the pair. Black Moth snarled viciously at the unwelcomed party, carving a line in the ground with her talons. The boisterous cry of Maguma acted as a warning. Before the group could lunge, a booming roar echoed, silencing any thought of action within the island’s defenders. All eyes turned to two ape-like creatures which parted the jungle with a flick of their wrists.

    Grey fur coated the larger of the pair who looked on his subjects and intruders with intrigue. King Kong’s primal eyes scanned Zone Fighter and King Ghidorah, weighing his options before the smaller Kong began to growl. The younger beast beat his brown-fur chest in an act of aggression merely for the larger Kong to bat him over the head with the back of his left hand. The undisputed king of Skull Island swiftly returned his gaze, deciding the best course of action.

    As primal eyes gazed into the dragon’s, King Kong noticed no terror or rage emitting from the beast. It seemed… lost.

    With a final grunt in preparation of his order, King Kong roared into the heavens of his decision, deafening even the mighty storm which encircled the island. King Ghidorah, at least this particular creature, could stay in his domain.

    As he finished his commanding bellow, wary eyes of the ape looked to Gorosaurus. The allosaur’s eyes twitched with rage, but gradually, the ancient dinosaur nodded slightly in acceptance giving the old ape a feeling of relief. With no other noticeable discontent, King Kong returned to the jungle with his heir following closely, and soon, the rest of the creatures in tow.

    With trouble avoided, Zone Fighter parted a wary breath and turned to King Ghidorah who looked at the alien hero with a grateful gaze. A mighty shout echoed from Zone Fighter before he launched into the sky, leaving his ally in the safety of the mighty king.

    King Ghidorah, an ally.’ The thought made Hikaru’s head spin as he soared through an endless sea of clouds which glowed under the setting sun. ‘Never thought that was possible, but against the Garoga, against the future the Futurians foresaw… I’ll gladly fight by his side once more.’

    *****

    Pacific Ocean – 1973

    Churning bubbles escaped the air pockets that remained in the submerged MOTHER, drifting ever closer to a watery demise. A state of being to be abandoned by the vision of man, forsaken to die a lonely death. Destiny was a cruel mistress. Fate had forgone the glory promised to it, and all value of conquest and propagation was lost because of it.

    Within the husk of a saucer, Yog persisted in the bitter void of the oceanic trenches. Conjoined to the host’s amygdala, bulged eyes of a desecrated, twisted corpse contracted in deep thought. It scoured the dead man’s mind for additional intel. What it saw, if it uttered the truth, terrified it beyond belief.

    From the eyes of its victim, it only saw the end ad infinitum. To it, this had to be the absolute truth. Yet such knowledge was so limited, even more restrained by the arrogance the deceased had once held near and dear to his shallow heart. The impossible and plausible all existed in equal factions, but only through his eyes did it see the end brought about by the red giant.

    Deep sea pressure contorted the metal framework of the saucer, compressing it like aluminum foil. The Yog remained in the heart of the vessel, clinging to the host for a physical form. Certainly, the Yog’s enhancements allowed the human body to survive depths it normally would be unable to breach. It wasn’t that it couldn’t abandon the body and find another host to parasitically infest. If it chose to, it could phase through the subatomic molecules and resume its mission anew.

    But the realization of the truth–a future where it no longer existed or would leave its mark in the universe–killed the instinctual drive to spread. With this existential knowledge burned into its sentience, could it really live knowing that it would be forgotten to time? Even if a future existed that would be more merciful than the one it saw, the results would be the same nonetheless. For Yog would never leave the lasting impact it had so desired. The fruits it bore would be infertile, for the seduction of the Earth’s worldly pleasures snuffed the life out of it.

    As the Futurian vessel plunged in the abyss, the host curled into a ball and waited for the inevitable. This planet would go on, but it would not. All that was left was itself and its thoughts, with only one solace to all of this.

    There was comfort in isolation.

    Winner: Zone Fighter, King Ghidorah (Heisei)

     

     

    K.W.C. // October 31, 2020
  • Author: Connor Clennell | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    The universe was an enormous place. In the 200,000 years that mankind had been around, they had yet to truly grasp the scope of the reality they lived in. Even far older and advanced civilisations struggled to answer such a boggling question. But every year, the knowledge of the universe grew as something new appeared from the infinite blackness of the cosmos, whether it be a new planet or satellite, foreign race, or type of interstellar fauna. In the case of the latter, knowledge was often accompanied by death.

    The galactic network had known for untold decades of beasts such as King Ghidorah and Legion, whose tales of terror had circulated far and wide across the Milky Way. But in recent times, new entities, both organic and artificial but deadly in their own right, had made their presence known. First, it was Bemular. Then Gigan, followed by Goliath, Mechagodzilla, and Orga in the years that came after. At the cusp of the next decade, alien invaders took focus as the major threat to national security over civil wars and terrorist attacks. With such lacking information on the world they lived in, none could anticipate when the next horror of the void would emerge and begin a new age of destruction.

    Crimson wings stretched wide across the empty vacuum, allowing the beast to sail with ease on the solar winds. It had been travelling for weeks now, leaving behind worlds stripped bare of life and resources in its wake. Billions had filled the drooling monstrosity’s belly, yet it still craved more. Its stomach growled soundlessly with unquenchable hunger, demanding sustenance, but there was none to be found so far. The newest solar system to suffer its presence was lacking in flora and fauna, leaving the foreigner more and more ill-tempered with each planet it visited. But the planet coming up looked promising, giving the scarlet intruder a glimmer of hope in finally sating the hunger that consumed it. Continents of green spread across its surface, divided by vast, blue oceans. To Bagorah, it was like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And it would eat everything.

    The alien’s wings folded inward, drawing close to the body as it began to descend through the atmosphere. A cone of heat engulfed the bat’s form as gravity began to take hold, dragging it down and increasing its velocity exponentially with every passing second, but it was no concern to the great beast. It knew that it would survive entry, and begin the feast shortly after.

    Even if the cosmic vampire had sought to make a stealthier arrival, its presence was instantly recognised. Other species of ancient titans dominated the blue planet, sharing a complex and fragile balance over resources and territory, and were none to accept disruption to their harmony from foreign rivals. Near the Kyushu Providence of Fukuoka, Bagorah’s arrival was taken note of for a different reason. Stone and earth that had remained undisturbed for centuries suddenly began to tremble and crack, falling into the depths of the planet as something under the surface stirred back to life. Tremors rocked the region, taking down freeways and office buildings as the quakes reached up to 8.0 on the Richter scale, but the source of them was uninterested in the consequences of its actions. It had hibernated for centuries, awaiting the return of its preferred prey. Although other giants had frequented the providence over the last decades, the forgotten beast had decided not to challenge them, as its once-great strength had faded with time. But the new arrival was promising, and while it was not among the list of creatures the ancient one once hunted, it was desperate enough to try.

    The earth visibly shifted and rose as the awakened titan moved under the crust, burrowing its way toward the most likely site of the invader’s landing. Genetically-wired instincts urged it on, regardless of its depleted resources, but the mission had to be completed. It was the last and only one of their kind left in the world, but soon, many more would be brought into it…

    The burning shape of Bagorah filled the skies over Nagasaki, casting a reddish-orange glow over the crowded, lawless streets. Millions abandoned respect for their fellow man in their desperation to stay alive, but the fact that the crimson xenoform was here proved it was already too late. Before it could make impact, the bat-like thing banked up, allowing the city to feel the ravages of its tail wind. Shards of glass fell like rain as thousands of windows shattered, only to be swept up along with anything loose and thrown across the landscape. As the screams of its prey filled its hypersensitive ears, Bagorah could only purr in delight. Its wings flapped in powerful strokes, bringing the interloper to an instant halt and blowing away the flames that coated it. The surrounding structures were immediately set ablaze, but it was of no concern to the great carnivore. All that mattered was the feast.

    Swooping just above the asphalt, it scooped up thousands into its open maw. So ravenous was its hunger that the chiropteran didn’t even wait to finish its mouthful before dipping its head again and filling its bloody gullet once more. As it went for a third helping, the foreigner stopped. It hovered in place and turned in the other direction, entranced by something in the distance. What it was, the bat had no idea, but it could hear clearly the sounds of the earth itself shifting and crumbling, growing in volume by the second. Its green eyes narrowed and searched for whatever had come. This was its bounty. It would not surrender it.

    Showers of soil erupted from cracks in the tarmac like geysers only yards away from Bagorah. The street started to sink into the ground, with debris erupting into the air just as quickly as it disappeared below the surface. Amongst the chorus of rumbling rock, the vampire caught a deeper sound. At first, it thought that the ground was rising up, but the black, jagged mass that emerged from the pit was most definitively alive. Huge, brawny forearms slammed into the pavement and pushed the colossus out, allowing the sunlight to wash over all of its bizarre form. Nothing else on Earth could compare to the newcomer in anatomy. Features of mammals, reptiles and insects were all present on its body, but there was no relation between any of those species and the ancient thing.

    The new arrival had many names given to its kind over the centuries. Some called it the Dragon Beetle, whose footsteps could shake the earth like thunder. Others cursed it as the Unclean Thing, for it corrupted the world with its essence. The oldest civilisation of all, lost from memory, knew the earthly demon as Jinshin-Mushi. All of these titles had been forgotten, but the modern age had given it a new one, upon discovering its connection to another lost species only recently documented.

    MUTO Prime.

    The hunchbacked creature let out a low shrill and stretched its tired, stiff limbs. It had slumbered for far too long, and now had to complete the cycle. Its elongated eyes were locked on its airborne target. It was not of this world, but the bat was the only choice it had to ensure successful reproduction.

    But Bagorah was not intimidated by the behemoth. Its nose, like its ears, was highly acute, and could sense the MUTO’s weakened state. A single whiff of its scent was all the bat needed to tell that the creature was not at full strength, yet had still come to challenge the scarlet invader. It couldn’t see a rival, but a greater meal that had delivered itself right to the starving predator. With a demonic shriek, the alien flapped toward the super parasite at great speed, spreading slobber into the wind as the urge to consume overpowered it. Its ferocity took MUTO Prime by surprise, leaving it slow to react as the flying fiend swooped overhead and raked its talons across its rocky back. A gigantic forelimb swung upward, but it was too late to strike the swifter killer. Dark blood flowed from the gashes left in its hide, dripping to the ground around the black titan as it struggled to turn in the confined street space. As it finally spun around, Jinshin-Mushi was assaulted by the chiropteran’s claws once more, slicing into its meaty flanks and retreating just as quickly. Once again, MUTO Prime lashed out with its massive arm, only finding hard granite and steel that shattered under its great strength. It grumbled slowly, becoming angered by its inability to land its claws on the red menace.

    Through the black smoke from the burning city, Bagorah screeched in an imitation of human laughter. Its prey couldn’t have picked a worse place to challenge it, in an environment that hindered it and gave the carnivorous xenoform plenty of cover to use. Even with the odds on its side, the invader should still have been cautious, but overconfidence and hunger clouded its logic and it dove down like a rocket. Its jaws opened wide, exposing fangs like needles and a green, flickering tongue, all stained with the blood of its human victims. Soaring over the parasite, it rolled to the side as one of its unusual forearms swung up, and swept over the behemoth’s back to lean its head down and sink its jaws into MUTO Prime’s shoulder.

    The beast from before Christ roared load and deeply, throwing its alien head back as pain surged through the assaulted shoulder like venom. The titan’s blood seeped into Bagorah’s mouth, which the galactic ravager lapped up with famished gusto. The taste was unusual to the great bat, but such a thing had never deterred it from a meal in the past. It jerked back to rip away a chunk of Jinshin-Mushi’s flesh, but the predator’s head didn’t budge from its spot. Confused, it tried again, only to meet the same lack of results. The hide of the ancient one was too taut and thick to be easily ripped away, and it was a miracle that Bagorah’s fangs had managed to pierce the surface in the first place. But as it tried to relinquish its bite, the chiropteran’s jaws remained locked to the site. Its attempts to main MUTO Prime has driven the crimson horror’s teeth deep into its tough flesh. It couldn’t pull free!

    Muffled screeches of distress left the flying evil’s stuffed maw as it struggled to pull free from the super titan. The invader’s wings and talons beat and scratched at the parasite’s form, informing it of the bat’s current position. It reached back with one colossal hand and clamped tightly around Bagorah’s mid-section, then pulled back, tearing the enormous creature from its shoulder. A reverberating groan escaped the maw of MUTO Prime as a chunk of its own flesh was ripped away as a result, and looked at the culprit squirming in its grip. Although its focus was to escape, the gluttonous foreigner could not resist gulping down the piece of the titan in its jaws before the chimaera’s own eyes. Gnashing fangs reduced the meat to paste, splattering Bagorah’s body with the blood of the Unclean Thing before swallowing and licking the remains from its drooling lips. It saw no need to hide its craving for the local’s flesh.

    This action drove an enraged cry from the black thing and the arm holding the invader swung out, throwing it into the side of the nearest skyscraper. The bat was instantly embedded in its structure, stunned from the impact and restrained by warped steel and broken concrete. With its enemy and target immobilised, MUTO Prime reared up, roaring into the darkened sky before slamming back down and charged at the helpless flyer. All Bagorah could do was widen its eyes as the herculean beast thrust its entire mass and godly strength against its crimson form, forcing the air from the demonic alien and robbing it of its voice. The imprisoning structure shattered under the unrelenting force of MUTO Prime, falling to the earth as a gigantic hail of rubble. Within the shower, Bagorah was thrown back, crashing to the uneven streets and skidding across the surface with wheezing breaths. When it finally stopped, the remains of its prison came down upon the foreigner, burying it under tons and tons of concrete debris.

    As the smoke and dust drifted away, MUTO Prime strode out from the haze. It grumbled silently as it caught sight of its pinned target, writhing and shrieking as it hastily started to loosen the concrete boulders restraining it. The killer of titans took heed and increased its pace, consumed by the drive to complete the seeding of the new generation. Bagorah’s efforts intensified as well once it noticed the behemoth’s approach, but its body was still held down under the hill of rubble. Its freed wings beat wildly, slapping the ground to try and lift the bat out of its prison as Jinshin-Mushi neared, finally casting the shadow of its impressive bulk over the struggling xenoform. Bagorah’s emerald eyes met the red, visor-like slits that were the parasite’s own and screeching loudly, trying to intimidate it into backing off, but the cries of the scarlet beast seemed to only aggravate the great one. Once more, it reared onto its hind legs, lifting its massive forelimbs in the air in preparation for the crushing blow.

    More debris slipped off the chiropteran’s chest, but it was still trapped and lacking time. The eater of ecosystems was not defenceless, however. Despite its alien origins and appearance, Bagorah was still a bat in nature, and possessed the same abilities as its earthly relatives, only greatly enhanced. The devourer’s jaws suddenly split open, emitting a long, piercing scream into the air. So powerful was the sound, the very space around the cosmic predator’s jaws warped and distorted from the high frequency. Windows across the block instantly shattered and buildings were shaken to their foundations, but MUTO Prime felt the full effects of the sonic blast as it took the brunt of it. The armoured titan lost its balance and stumbled, toppling over onto its back and roaring in agony in its disorientated condition.

    Now was the invader’s time to strike! With a final burst of power, Bagorah burst free of the restraining debris and flew toward its fallen adversary with a haunting shriek. Although pain coursed through the behemoth’s head, it recognised the incoming danger and tilted to catch sight of the incoming threat. Its inner pairs of arms lashed out, catching the ferocious carnivore inches away from its throat and held the starving thing back. Thick saliva splattered across MUTO Prime’s throat as sharp fangs snapped furiously, eager to taste of its flesh and blood. Bagorah’s wings flapped wildly and its taloned feet slashed at the tough belly of the colossus, scoring white lines across its surface. The great parasite pushed back with the strength it could muster, but its crimson nemesis was not so easily dispatched, holding vigour unfitting of its lithe form. But as the effects of the sonic attack faded, the hunchbacked goliath was able to refocus once more. Its whole body seemed to vibrate tremendously and its strange jaws opened, unleashing its own supersonic roar and returning the favour to the hellish alien. Bagorah’s hypersensitive ears took the blast in full and it screamed in agony, momentarily losing its hearing and balance. Unlike the chiropteran’s sound blast, the cry of Jinshin-Mushi was one of sound and force, which threw its attacker clear off and to the rubble-filled street.

    The predator of the stars hit the rough ground with a pained squeak and a veil of dust. It shrieked and thrashed as its ears ringed, trying to outlast the agony as MUTO Prime slowly climbed back onto all fours. It stepped toward its distressed target, pinning its wings to the ground with its forearms and leaning down to the bat’s level. From the sides of its face, four orange, luminous tendrils emerged from hidden sheathes, lazily twitching as their pointed tips slithered closer to Bagorah’s restrained form…

    The bat suddenly lunged forward, shocking the elder titan as its jaws flew past the tentacles and gripped its throat. Jinshin-Mushi howled and reared back, releasing its hold on the alien glutton and withdrawing the ovipositors.  As its attacker’s reaction pulled it up, Bagorah did not let go of the parasite’s neck, choosing instead to thrash its head back and forth to tear apart the behemoth’s flesh as its massive wings expertly kept it hovering in place. Its tongue darted out to taste the blood dripping into its maw at the source and it purred in delight. Like the vampire bat it so closely resembled, it lapped up the substance with drunken gusto, intoxicated by its exotic, earthly flavour. There was a sudden, powerful collision to its torso, and Bagorah found itself flying back, gasping for lost breath as MUTO Prime lowered its offending fist.

    Dark fluid flowed from the ancient one’s wounded throat and stained the demolished ground beneath it, but the damage was surprisingly minimal. It still hurt like hell, though, but MUTO Prime chose to ignore it and rushed its recovering adversary. The tactic was predictable, giving Bagorah enough time to ascend out of the angered beast’s path and hover above, looking down with its own snarling expression. Twinges of pain shot through its bruised chest with each wing beat, fuelling the fire of hate that the foreign killer had for its earthen opponent. The chiropteran’s jaws snapped, shooting a blast of high-frequency sound at the herculean monster that forced it to step back. The dark-coloured thing groaned and shook its head, dazed by the sudden attack but otherwise unharmed. Bagorah circled the confused titan, launching sonic bombs from its shrieking maw from all directions to surround it in a sphere of sound. The louder volume had a greater effect on the MUTO herald, disrupting its hearing and echolocation abilities. It swayed on its feet, struggling to find its balance as its head tracked the crimson stalker.

    While the tactic was sound, it was not what Bagorah desired. It craved the thrill of action, the rush of adrenaline from attacking its victims itself. It descended, triggering the xenoform’s foe to lash out with its forelimb. In its muddled state, the strike missed by yards, giving the bat the opportunity to sink its talons in-between the goliath’s shoulder blades. Flapping powerfully, it steered Jinshin-Mushi toward the surrounding buildings and slammed it through the wall of a smoking office building. Crushed debris slipped down its form before it was jerked back into the sunlight, roaring in fury at its alien offender. The great chiropteran pulled MUTO Prime across the desolate street once more, shifting its own body weight to send the bulky terran careening into another building with an ugly cracking sound.

    For the next minute, the action of smashing the dark behemoth into the surrounding structures continued, with the beast coming away from each impact more bruised and bloodied than before. Thick cracks ran across its exoskeleton and it swayed on its feet, still under the effects of the earlier sonic attack. However, it began to stabilise, lifting its head and spreading its limbs to gain better traction on the ground. It appeared that Bagorah’s attempt to bludgeon the bizarre giant had worked in Jinshin-Mushi’s favour. The sense had literally been knocked back into it by the blows.

    With a sound almost as alien as Bagorah’s, it charged, tearing down the roadway with the crimson predator clinging to its back. The foreigner screened in alarm as it was pulled along for the ride and flapped frantically to try and halt or change the colossus’ path, but its efforts could not halt its momentum. MUTO Prime’s limbs pumped faster and faster, increasing its speed by the second until it knew that it had enough. It bellowed long and loud as it drove the body of itself and Bagorah into a skyscraper, breaking the structure’s foundation upon collision. It fell apart, crashing down on the joined monsters and removing them from sight within a cloud of dust and falling rubble.

    As the remains of the building hit the ground and the rubble settled, silence fell across the cityscape for only the briefest moment. Although the impact and collapse were both impressive, it was not enough to keep the duo down. Crimson wings burst from the debris like a thing of nightmares, with Bagorah throwing aside rubble and standing tall seconds later. Its piercing, emerald orbs easily located the living mountain that was Jinshin-Mushi amongst the littered landscape and it let out a cry of upmost hate before taking to the air. It circled the ancient parasite as it pulled itself free from the concrete sea, moaning with fatigue.

    As it shook the dust from its head and neck, sharp talons assaulted its vision. The elder beast cried out as Bagorah’s claws slashed at its face, driving the confused giant back. MUTO Prime’s fists swung wildly, missing the gigantic extra-terrestrial’s form as it hovered above like a hummingbird, raking its bladed feet across the titan’s neck and shoulders and kicking at its hideous features. The aerial killer shrieked with glee and mocking laughter as it drove its prey down, growing more certain of its victory and the prize that would come with it. And oh, what a prize it would be.

    But like with all who grow overconfident, their pride will ultimately bring about their downfall. In its focus to take the great parasite down, the scarlet fiend’s senses dulled as it slipped into a blood-crazed trance. MUTO Prime’s arm lashed out again, connecting with and grasping the chiropteran’s tail with a surprised cry from the red invader. It slammed the predator down with a mighty crack as its body hit the pavement, stunning it for the briefest moment. Jinshin-Mushi lifted its arm again, heaving the heavy bat over its hand and smashing it back-first into the ground. Shrieking wildly, Bagorah flapped its wings in an attempt to break free of the goliath’s hold. Suddenly, it was flying across the city as it was tossed by its black nemesis. It shrieked wildly before it was cut short as it clipped the side of a building, knocking out a chunk and sending the aerial menace spiralling in another direction. As another building loomed, the bat’s wings extended, clasping onto the outside with its clawed tips to lessen the impact. It scuttled across its surface like some demonic gargoyle, seeking cover to re-focus and adjust its strategy.

    As it peeked its head around the corner, the chiropteran’s emerald eyes widened in shock at the chunk of debris hurtling toward its roost. Instantly, it fell back, releasing one wing from the building as the projectile struck, demolishing several floors only a kaiju-sized hair breadth away. Bagorah leaned out again, screeching with anger as it spotted MUTO Prime rip out another slab of concrete from the side of a skyscraper. As the forgotten creature hurled it, Bagorah ascended into the air, leaving the debris to shatter the xenoform’s perch. Its return to its element brought an enraged sound from the jaws of MUTO Prime, quite aware that it would nearly impossible to bring the colossal intruder back down. It would not give up, though. Its unfightable instinct to reproduce urged it on, and the progenitor of the MUTOs had no choice but to comply.

    The parasite’s arms reached out and dug into the ground, tearing up massive handfuls of metal and rock and rearing onto its hind limbs to lift both object. With a mighty throw from each arm, it sent both boulders flying one after the other at its alien target. The first chunk missed as Bagorah rolled out of the way, aligning itself with the trajectory of the second projectile with a cunning glint in its eyes. Reaching out, it grasped the boulder mid-flight and flipped in the air, throwing the projectile back at the armoured brute. For MUTO Prime, it was an easy feat to break the boulder with a swing of a forelimb, but a veil of dust was generated in the process, hindering the behemoth’s line of sight. Its arms waved clumsily to try and dispel the cloud, but they were too blocky for the task and the dust was too thick. From the other side, the top of a building was tossed, shattering against the ancient titan’s cranium and forcing it down with a pained cry. Bagorah’s haunting shriek echoed as the goliath lifted its head with a scowl on its features. Either the foreigner was adapting its strategy as they battled, or it was choosing to mock it with the black giant’s own stratagem.

    Bagorah’s claws reached out, embedding into the roof of a residential building and tearing away the top of the structure. Swinging its lower half forward, it tossed the building through the dust cloud with all the strength it could muster. The great carnivore’s rival had caught on to its scheme, however. Its throat rumbled as the structure’s dark silhouette appeared through the grey fog, and as it broke the corner and spiralled toward the elder beast, Jinshin-Mushi’s maw released its devastating sonic attack. The reverberating roar instantly shattered the flying building and dispelled the dust in the air, giving the parasite a clear look at its red enemy once again. But as the veil vanished, it found the bat bearing down toward it, screeching aloud and spraying spit into the wind. Raising its wings vertically, it slowed to a halt and hovered before the black colossus, ears twitching like tuning antennae. Its hypersonic scream erupted from the xenoform’s throat as MUTO Prime responded with its own high-frequency sound.

    As the two beasts quickly found out, unleashing two sound-based attacks at the same time was a poor play. Between the duelling waves, a sphere of literal sound began to form, fuelled more and more by both creatures in the span of seconds until it reached critical mass. The orb burst apart with a sonic boom, launching the warring titans across the landscape. The proud infrastructure of Nagasaki fell apart for miles, burying one of the region’s most important cities in the rubble of its own buildings.

    MUTO Prime skidded to a stop, drawing trenches in the already ruined tarmac as its claw stabbed the ground. Shaken by the explosion of sound, it was unsteady on its feet and struggling to hear properly. Its vision was clear, however, and it could make out the form of Bagorah, thrown much farther across the city due to its previous aerial position. The alien slowly crawled from the rubble, shaking its bruised body clean and flexing its wings, not sporting small rips across their membranes. The action brought something behind the beast to MUTO Prime’s attention, causing a new strategy to pop into its fuddled mind. Despite its fatigue, it reared up with upmost urgency, lifting its massive forearms up and slamming them down into the earth with all its weight and strength. The ground shook with the force of the greatest earthquakes, ripping down the buildings not completely demolished by the sonic boom. Colossal cracks raced away from the behemoth, creating deep ravines in their wake as the tremor rolled toward Bagorah. Although its senses were dulled, the bat’s hearing was still impeccable. The growing noise of the trembling earth sent a rush of adrenaline coursing through the foreigner, prompting it to take flight and evade the shockwave.

    As the tremor passed under the mammal-like xenoform, it cackled with mocking laughter and cast its green eyes on the panting Jinshin-Mushi. It failed to notice the cracks spreading behind it, but MUTO Prime’s tired features turned into its approximation of a grin, confusing the flying beast. What had it to be so proud of, so close to its end?

    By the time the ringing in its ears ceased and it could hear the crumbling granite, it was too late. All Bagorah could do was look over its shoulder and watch in horror as the skyscraper behind it, with its foundations weakened by the tremor, came crashing down. The scarlet thing shrieked and tried to fly away, but the falling tower slammed into its back and brought it to the ground, disappearing amidst exploding debris and thick smoke.

    Slowly and wearily, the Unclean Thing approached. It was tired and bruised, but now victory was at hand. With its forearms, it brushed away the remnants of steel and granite to expose the helpless form of its quarry. As sunlight washed over it, Bagorah hissed and tried to move its wings, only to receive a fierce punch to its face that made the ferocious invader cease its struggles. It chittered pathetically as blood drained from its broken nose and MUTO Prime leaned close. From the sockets of its face, the ovipositors emerged, squirming lazily as if to taste the air before homing to the bat’s form. A sense of pride flowed through Jinshin-Mushi as it relished its completed objective, its need to reproduce. The arrow-headed tentacles drifted closer, tapped the flesh of the immobile creature and…

    Nothing.

    MUTO Prime jerked back in a mix of confusion of rage. Nothing. Not a single rad of radiation, the element that its offspring needed to incubate and grow, emanated from the alien’s body. It had been there. It had sensed it, from the moment they met.

    Bagorah had been emitting radiation since its arrival, but it was stored from its travels across the cosmos. It had no means to harvest or store it, and so it began to dissipate into the atmosphere. At this point, there was hardly any left to register for a full rad. Without it, Jinshin-Mushi had no way of feeding its young. The parasite had wasted its time on an incompatible target.

    Which meant that the bat had no more use to it.

    With a roar of rage, it smashed its fist into Bagorah’s snout. A gurgled sound of pain came from the foreigner as it attempted to vocalise with its broken nose, but MUTO Prime didn’t care. A second strike dislocated the fiend’s jaw, and the third made it shatter like glass. It kept on punching, burning up the little energy it had to beat the chiropteran’s head in. Gore and bone flew in every direction as it reduced Bagorah’s skull to a bloody pulp, and still kept the beating going, spurred on by rage alone.

    Eventually, its rage shimmered and its stamina ran out. Gasping for breath, the giant slouched over the corpse of its former rival. Without its anger, all it felt was uncertainty. The reserves stored from its hibernation had been used up in the battle, leaving it with barely enough strength to stand. It was in no condition to seek out another host or defend itself should another predator come. It needed food.

    It looked down, studying the body of Bagorah intently. It wasn’t irradiated and lacked the specific energy required to refuel itself properly, but…

    Jinshin-Mushi leaned down and tore a chunk of flesh from the dead thing’s chest, throwing it into its maw and gulping it down with efficient speed. It cocked its head as it analysed the taste of the otherworldly meat, then grumbled in satisfaction and grabbed the corpse, dragging it back to the tunnel and its lair.

    In this universe, nothing can be certain. The most experienced beings can fall should they not be prepared for the dangers that they may face. For Bagorah, this was the end of its story of terror. After so much pillaging and slaughter, its hunger and pride had let it to its demise in the most ironic of ways.

    The tables had been turned. The predator had become the prey.

    Winner: MUTO Prime

    K.W.C. // October 20, 2020
  • Author: Anthony James Velez | Banner: Landon Soto

    Their plan had worked to a T. Godzilla was wiped out of the pages of history. In the place of the King of the Monsters was the three headed monster, King Ghidorah. No amount of opposition leveled at them by Japan was enough to fight it off. The Futurians were confident that the world would be theirs soon enough.

    As King Ghidorah shot lightning-shaped beams somehow made out of gravitation itself, their masters were preparing on how to implement their ideals on this world. There was no doubt there would be rebellion from the government and people of Japan, and the dictatorship would require a means to convince them that their takeover would be beneficial without reliance on King Ghidorah. Of course, word was already spreading via the news of their kaiju destroying their home, so the dragon could perhaps be used as an intimidation tactic until they had a long-term solution. Ghidorah, meanwhile, hadn’t the brains for such decisions. They didn’t have a mind for any actions not predetermined by their masters as it was.

    As such, they just focused on their mission on attacking Tokyo, destroying everything and slaughtering everybody in sight. As they continued their flight on their rampage, however, something in the nearby ocean caught their attention. The Futurians noticed Ghidorah stopping in their tracks and staring off into the waters in curiosity, turning toward the ocean themselves. What they saw had caught them by surprise. Familiar fins were coming toward the bay, cutting through the salt water like a swarm of ravenous sharks.

    It was pretty easy to tell that they were differences compared to the Godzilla they got rid of, though. The spines, though similar to the original Godzilla, resembled jagged stone and were smaller than the first. As more of him rose from the depths, his bipedal, bulky body with near stubby arms, giant legs, and a face resembling that of a komodo dragon marked the key differences of this new Godzilla.

    ****

    “So there’s more than one of the species left in the world…” Wilson mumbled to himself, drumming his fingers together.

    “We’ll just have to fix that. King Ghidorah, destroy it immediately,” Grenchiko commanded through a speaker in the MOTHER.

    ****

    King Ghidorah shook their heads, beginning to focus again and flew toward the new Godzilla. Godzilla let out a ferocious roar that shook the land itself as he charged toward his newest enemy. King Ghidorah brought their feet in front of them, closing in on Godzilla before slamming them into his chest. Godzilla grunted as he skidded across the ground, grabbing the legs of the golden atrocity and pulling them to the ground with a heave. As Ghidorah toppled atop the ancient predator, Godzilla bit down in-between their right and middle head.

    King Ghidorah wrapped their right neck around his left arm and began pulling him off, Godzilla raking its right set of nails across the golden scales in response. Godzilla wrestled his arm out of the grip of the head, only to get thwacked by that head in the chin and reel back. Quick to recover, Godzilla rammed his shoulder into King Ghidorah’s sternum, forcing the glimmering beast back as well. Ghidorah was quick to recover though and leapt into the air, their bat-like wings beating as their three heads spat gravity beams upon the elder Godzilla, staggering him.  The dragon spun in mid-air, swinging their twin tails into the face of its enemy, only to regret it when Godzilla bit down and slammed them back to the ground, smashing small buildings in the process.

    As Godzilla loomed over the Futurian creation, Ghidorah’s left foot slammed into the behemoth’s right knee. A howl of pain erupted from ancient jaws, allowing Ghidorah to arise without resistance and lunge at his foe with all three heads. The center neck wrapped around the titan’s throat while the others began pummeling him with gravity beams. Godzilla grit its teeth from the pain pressing into his chest with every shot as he grabbed the face of the middle head and tried to shove his nails into the dragon’s eyes. As Godzilla’s claws dug into his flesh, the dragon unwrapped themselves from his neck and aimed to shoot a bolt from their central mouth in retaliation, but it was cut off as their mouth was bit down on and shut. Godzilla put his impressive strength into practice as he lifted the body of the dragon with his grip on all three heads.

    The ancient creature slammed the dragon into the ground, pain shooting into their back. The dragon wrapped their tails around the new Godzilla’s legs and pulled, taking the fossil of a being down with them. Godzilla growled as a head shot toward him, only for it to be caught by a dragon’s head and slammed into pavement. The other two heads slipped free of Godzilla’s grip and bit into his hands, aiming to pull him off. The kaiju growled at each other, grappling desperately to gain a better hold over the other, but as Ghidorah flexed its mighty wings and found itself atop its foe, the three-headed beast flapped its mighty appendages.

    Harsh winds made Godzilla wince, but surely the dragon could not take flight. He was too-

    The nearly one-hundred thousand ton ancient leviathan found itself pried off the man-made city and taken into the air by its enemy. Ghidorah flew across the land, spectators yet to escape the devastation looking in awe at what they were seeing the dragon do. Awe transformed into panic when Ghidorah finally released Godzilla, screams filling the bay before a mighty crash overpowered the noises as water swept all on the coast away. Godzilla groaned in the shallow depths of the bay, but his gradually recovered proved short lived as. gravity beams descended from the heavens, keeping him pinned down.

    Godzilla kept himself from howling in pain, refusing to show weakness to the dragon as he prepared his own attack. The Futurians saw his spines glow and began to warn Ghidorah, but they were confident that they could keep him pinned and avoid the upcoming attack.

    The ancient behemoth proved them half right-

    As gravity beams rained down upon him, Godzilla alit the city in a azure tint. The concentrated atomic flames which raced up into the sky connected with King Ghidorah’s central head, burning its eyes with radioactive energy. The dragon descended to the city, wailing in agony while. Godzilla struggled to his feet and charged toward the dragon.

    King Ghidorah could barely see from their middle head, staggering about while shaking their head to try to shake away the blurriness. They were so focused on this, in fact, that when Godzilla had closed the distance, they didn’t have the time to react when the ancient king slammed his tail into the legs of the dragon, knocking them down through a row of structures. Godzilla bit down into the middle head and grabbed the right and left heads before slamming them into the ground repeatedly, the dragon kicking and flailing about. One last slam to the ground led Godzilla to throw the dragon across the air, Ghidorah screeching in alarm as they sailed across the land before slamming back into the city. The hydra screamed in pain from the throw, making it difficult to stand as Godzilla marched toward them.

    The city alit a familiar azure color. Flames danced with reptilian jaws, the building thrum of energy and illuminating dorsal spines giving the behemoth’s intentions away easily. Before the atomic ray could be unleashed, a plethora of  gravity beams collided into the leviathan’s knees, knocking Godzilla off his feet as the ray was unleashed. Buildings of varying size ignited, creating a wall of flame to the right of both monsters. Ghidorah vented breaths of relief while Godzilla’s eyes narrowed in rage, reflecting the light of the fires which burned beside them and lumbered toward Ghidorah.

    The distance between the pair vanished in an instant and Godzilla managed to grab the left head of the dragon before squeezing it like a soda can, but the other heads bit down on his right hand in retribution. Godzilla made do with what he had and closed his hand, squeezing the dragon’s left skull as Ghidorah shredded his right appendage. Blood spilled from both kaiju yet neither showed signs of relenting. Draconic wings flexed once more, indicating to Godzilla the dragon would soon fly, yet he persisted in his efforts to crush the Futurian mutant’s skull, not relenting for a moment as both he and Ghidorah ascended above the burning city.

    Higher and higher the pair flew into the smoke filled sky, sickening sounds indicated the pair’s flight would not last long. Sinew and flesh began to tear off from the middle neck as Godzilla continued his grip. Godzilla let go of the two other heads, grabbing the middle head with both clawed hands. Soon enough, three heads became two as the middle head was instantly torn off its original place, blood falling like rain as Godzilla descended upon Tokyo. A mocking roar boomed from Godzilla’s maw until the impact of the city silenced its cry. A shockwave ripped through the metropolis, putting out the flames while a tremor rattled all the residents within. As the smoke cleared, the mighty behemoth lay in a fresh crater, the severed head of Ghidorah in its clutches.

    *****

    “This cannot be,” Grenchiko gasped, watching the events of the battle unfold with disbelief. “Godzilla is defeating our King Ghidorah!”

    “You underestimate Ghidorah’s power, Gren,” Wilson said with confidence. “The loss of one head will not stop our monster from killing this ancient relic. Besides, we’ve already killed one Godzilla, history will repeat itself again.”

    *****

    The two remaining heads of King Ghidorah growled in fury as they watched Godzilla crush the severed head under its heel. A snort of air discharged from the leviathan’s nostrils while he bore his fangs, demonstrating the fate which awaited the two-headed beast. Ignoring the warning, King Ghidorah lunged toward the behemoth, gravity beams pelting the saurian’s frame. Eventually, King Ghidorah tackled Godzilla, the kaiju nearly getting knocked off his feet from the force. Launching its claws forward, the leviathan grabbed the left head by the muzzle and forced its jaws wide open while preparing another atomic ray.

    The right head tried to save the left by lunging for him, but was stopped by Godzilla’s forearm as he raised it in the head’s path. This action allowed the left muzzle to slip free, and it brought its jaws down on one of his fingers. Snarling in pain, Godzilla still fired, consuming the head with atomic flames. King Ghidorah’s head screeched in pain, its eyes and face melting under the intense heat and power spewed upon it. The right head added pressure upon the arm that had them trapped, aiming to break it. Godzilla felt his bones creaking and threw the left head away, allowing Ghidorah’s right head to wrap around his right arm.

    Godzilla growled as Ghidorah’s jaws pressed down further and further. The gleaming atrocity’s left head couldn’t aim without eyes, so when it tried to grasp the titan by the throat, it instead bit into his right shoulder. Suddenly, a loud snap resonated through the area, Godzilla’s pupils expanding from the intense pain. Ferocity flared inside him, urging pull the dragon’s right head apart. With a violent snap, the neck around his broken arm fell limp as Godzilla pulled it off. King Ghidorah’s remaining head tried to get back into the fight, but not being able to see and having limited hearing did not make this an easy task.

    Despite now having a broken arm, Godzilla pushed forward. Ghidorah began to try to take flight, but Godzilla bit down on his left wing before he could leave the earth. Godzilla’s body slammed the creature and dug his claws into the wing as he slashed it to shreds. Blood dripped off his claws as Ghidorah once again tried to bite Godzilla, but the saurian bit down on it first. Unable to tell where its jugular was, he grabbed the neck with his hands.

    The dragon kicked him in the back, toppling him on top of his neck. Godzilla slammed his tail against its legs, keeping it from attempting to do that again as he added his teeth and began to wring the neck. King Ghidorah began smacking Godzilla in the face with its untouched wing, each blow causing the predator’s grip to loosen. He was forced to let go, or else give Ghidorah a chance to attack after breaking free. With its freedom, the wounded dragon fired off  a single, continuous gravity beam at point blank range, scalding the leviathan in golden energy.

    With his remaining arm, Godzilla grasped the flailing head and directed it toward its intact wing as much as he could in his situation. The gravity beams tore through the wing, Ghidorah ceasing his flapping to prevent further damage and make an already horrible situation even worse. Godzilla began to twist the neck again, attempting every angle it only seemed to cause pain. His tail was beginning to tire from the constant blocking it needed to do from King Ghidorah’s feet, so he needed to think of something and fast. Soon enough, something came to mind as he bit down on the neck and pulled upward. His claws joined on either side of his jaws, digging into the neck and pulling in both directions.

    It seemed to be working as blood began to spill into his mouth. His tail did miss a kick and its foot slammed into his spine, breaking some spines from doing so. He changed position, his jaws keeping the head grounded while his hands pulled upward instead. Finally, the places where his hands were holding gave way as the neck had torn into three sections. The eyes of King Ghidorah were open and lifeless, staring into whatever remained of their battlefield.

    Letting the golden beast’s head slip from his grasp, Godzilla breathed heavily, exhausted from the battle against his natural enemy. This definitely wasn’t the Ghidorah he remembered, but having killed a Ghidorah was good enough for him in any case.

    *****

    The Futurians felt their dreams of a world under their rule disappear. Their greatest weapon had been dispatched by this new Godzilla and they needed to start the attack over again by scratch. This time, they needed to find what creature this thing originally was and kill it as well. That was assuming they could gather enough forces from the future to destroy it, seeing as its fully evolved form had killed a universal threat like their kaiju.

    As the MOTHER’s engines roared into life, preparing to return to their time, Wilson and Grenchiko gazed out of the window at the distant form of the elder Godzilla.

    “Damn you, Godzilla,” Wilson snarled. “Enjoy your victory over King Ghidorah. It will soon be rectified.”

    *****

    The MOTHER vanished in a flash of light, catching the momentary attention of the behemoth who stood within Tokyo Bay. Paying the lightshow little thought, Godzilla turned his attention to the corpse of King Ghidorah. He stepped on its chest, took a few breathes, and let out his victorious earth-shaking roar toward the heavens above.

    Now that whatever humans still around had heard the dominance of the new owner of this island, he began to pull the “king” away from his territory. Godzilla wished that he was still able to control his other arm, but he would have to be patient for the time being and wait for it to recover. He would have to live with this new handicap for a while.

    With the death of Godzillasaurus, and by extension, Godzilla, the world seemed to have been left without its most powerful creature, for better or for worse. This new Godzilla had made the news, revealing to the rest of the world that the name would be kept alive. The J.S.D.F. had to formulate a plan along with the United Nations on how to handle the creature that pretty much had the Japanese population under his thumb. The King of the Monsters was gone forever. In his place was a creature which proved itself above a king, a true Alpha.

    Winner: Godzilla (Legendary)

     

    K.W.C. // October 11, 2020
  • Author: KeSean Johnson | Banner: Landon Soto

    Energy… Power… Energy. It is what one needs to become faster, stronger, better.

    It was a peaceful day in Japan. No carnage, no wars, no Kaiju. A group of six American tourists and two scientists had come to the Land of the Rising Sun to learn and study about the most famous mountain in the Japanese mainland: Mt. Fuji. Fascination of the geological feature firmly grasped every member until their eyes gazed upon the wonder or in this case, the unexpected anomaly growing out of it like a tumor. The crystal pulsated a pinkish-white glow and concealed raw power. The tourists and scientists could not believe what they uncovered only two-hundred meters away from them. The thing stood near the huge mountain with a height they could only assume was near fifty meters.

    Dr. Christopher Kennen, professor at Harvard University, was more interested in the crystal spire than frightened by it. He knew there was something about it that was vital to some sort of organic being.

    “A wonder unlike any seen before,” the scientist pondered aloud with an amazed look on his face.

    Excluding the doctor, a nefarious vibe descended upon the group. The scientist’s daughter, Noelle Kennen, had just become an assistant teacher at a high school in Massachusetts. She went on this trip to learn about Mt. Fuji, not a pink, over-sized icicle. Unlike her father, worry over the mysterious feature influenced her actions. Her father’s arrogance would surely come into play when face-to-face with some unknown part of science like this. He had to study it. It was his addiction in life, a light of knowledge he couldn’t turn away from. A glow that would eventually-

    Noelle pushed through the group and moved next to her father. “Dad! Dad!”

    There was no answer. He wasn’t even attempting to learn about it. He was just gazing at it; his eyes reflecting the glow of the crystal.

    “Dr. Kennen!” With just those two words, he snapped out of it.

    “Yes, Ms. Kennen?” He said without even turning around.

    She never liked it when he called her that. “Please, don’t call me that… I’m not one of your students.” Noelle remarked with frustration.

    “But you’re one of mine,” her father said with a hint of humor in his voice.

    He always wanted her to grow up in his self-image; intelligent, good-looking, well-mannered, and to have a quest for new knowledge. The scientist with a PhD had a self-famous quote: “You learn something new every day. Acknowledge it. Make something of it. Put it to good use.” And he would not miss the pulsating opportunity before them both.

    Noelle’s father quit gazing at the crystal and turned back to the group merely for the ground to begin to shake. Everyone felt a faint rumble under the soles of their shoes and thought an earthquake might have just happened far away. After all, they were in Japan. Next thing they knew it happened again, this time with a little more force. Then again and again the earth quakes rattled the dirt beneath them. Save for the doctor, they had been too frightened to figure out what was going on. One of the tourists couldn’t handle the anxiety and ran away from the pack, unnoticed. Next thing the fleeing tourist knew, he was snatched right off the ground. The giant pushed the human upward to its chin until his entire body was impaled by some sort of crystal. He slid off organic entity and fell hundreds of feet, screaming in terror and in the process, alerting all those he traveled with of his killer.

    Everyone turned around and saw a huge, sleek, menacing creature walk into their valley. It stood eighty-four meters, with a half dazzling white, half diamond purple skin texture that shined quite beautifully. It had sharp claws, razor-sharp teeth, and crystals on certain parts its body. A crystal beard, multi-crystal tipped-tail, and longer, curved crystals lined its back. No one knew what this thing was, but it showed no sign of being friendly.

    “Part of me wants to study this diamond-like creature. The other part says to run for your goddamn life,” the doctor said aloud, his thoughts spilling out for all to hear.

    “Pick the latter, dad!” Noelle screamed.

    For once in his life, the doctor could not pick apart her assessment of the situation so with a hurried breath, he chased after her, looking back at the beast with a fascination that grew greater even as he ran farther away.

    * * * * *

    No one, not even the very monster knew what it was or where it even came from, but it had a name.

    Krystalak.

    Filled with malicious intent, it was clear as day what this thing was actually here for. Not to squash the pathetic, little insects in its new domain, but to win a trophy. A trophy of great magnitude and of awesome power. He needed it! It would be his.  Nothing was in his way and nothing was going to stop him now! Or at least, so he thought. The magnificent creature was mere inches away from unlocking his greatest achievement when the ground shook violently. Unlike his own footsteps, the tremors swayed even the mighty mutant.

    Krystalak stood his ground, not letting his trophy slip away from him that easily. The earth had stopped shaking after a full minute. Then out of nowhere, the ground exploded in a dramatic show of force, Something pushed its way out of the Earth and tossed Krystalak away with its monstrous strength. After Krystalak regained his equilibrium, he realized the crystalline tower was still intact and it made him chuckle with evil glee. Then he hissed, remembering something had thrown him up into the air and back down to the ground. He almost forgot, his mind so focused on his trophy, it took him moments to process the newest arrival. What stood in front of him was an ancient dinosaur with brown, wrinkly skin, a rock-like torso, long tail, crescent-shaped horns on either side of its head, and a small nasal horn.

    Gomora roared a cry of defiance. It sensed the crystal, the mutant born of its cosmic power and he would not let its actions go unanswered.

    The crystal-covered creature roared back, infuriated now. He thought it was his for the taking the second he laid his menacing eyes on it. Gomora had ruined his plans so now he was going to ruin his life!

    Krystalak decided to make the first move. He charged head first with his shoulders moving side-by-side and running at a remarkable speed for its size. The Crystal Terror was getting ready to scratch out Gomora’s life from existence when suddenly the Subterranean-monster side-stepped him. Krystalak just barely stopped himself from colliding into the glowing structure he desired before he turned ninety degrees to the left to look at his new enemy, only to receive a kick in the stomach which sent him toppling onto his back. Gomora marched toward the downed monster, ready to tear into its underbelly merely for the mutant’s tail to trip the nearing dinosaur. With his opponent within a plume of dust, Krystalak got back up in an instant and pounced onto Gomora. Krystalak showed no remorse, swinging his claws into Gomora’s face as if there was no tomorrow.

    Gradually Gomora raised his arms into a defensive-block, holding off the onslaught to the best of his ability. Rage coursed through every fiber in the dinosaur’s being until he could not contain it any longer. A swift uppercut smashed into Krystalak’s chin before Gomora followed up with a dual kick to the abdomen, launching the mutant away. After a climatic impact, both arose searching for the other.

    Hate-filled eyes glared at one another, their owners moving in a slow circle, waiting for the other to attack first. Krystalak’s patience quickly wore thin, sending the beast surging forth once again. The Crystal Beast swung at Gomora’s face who then ducked and shoulder blocked him in the gut. Krystalak retaliated with a karate kick to the leg which forced Gomora to one knee. Gomora hugged both of Krystalak’s legs and dropped him to the ground, smashing Krystalak’s head into a grouping of trees. Climbing atop the fallen mutant, Gomora imitated his opponent by swinging wildly. His hits proved stronger than any Krystalak unleashed as blows which glanced off Krystalak’s face splintered the broken trees around its head. As blood shot out of the fiend’s maw, Krystalak’s eyes widened in anguish and it lashed out, burying its fangs into the dinosaur’s left hand. Gomora wailed while fresh blood ran down its left hand, smashing his right into Krystalak’s head to try and release his foe’s grip, yet try as he might, Krystalak’s grip proved too firm. Deciding a new course of action, Gomora got back up and thrusted his knee into Krystalak’s chin, nearly dislocating it. The Crystal Terror head smashed into the ground, its painfilled grasp finally at an end, allowing Gomora to seize the opportunity and lift Krystalak. Stagnant above his horned head, the determined reptile slammed Krystalak him to the ground. The earth fractured violently, bending to form a shallow grave, but Gomora would not allow his foe to die so easily! Ripping Krystalak out of the ground once more, Gomora lifted him high into the air just as the mutant awakened.

    In a panic, Krystalak bent downward, reaching Gomora’s groin area and flipped his adversary through the air. Gomora unwillingly performed a front flip before crashing onto his back, eyes wide at the impossible move his opponent performed.

    * * * * *

    “Amazing!” Dr. Kennen shouted, “That monster was falling while being held by its will, yet it could change the velocity of which it was falling and curl up.”

    Gomora and Krystalak gradually entered a vicious close quarters brawl, each smashing their respective claws across the other, entrancing the doctor in thought. He walked toward the battle, completely focused on the crystalline creature.

    It was not a monster of mere brute strength like its adversary. It surely possessed intelligence. How extensive was its mind? Could communication be possible?

    Maybe… maybe I can reason with it.

    Noelle looked on in shock at her father. He’d surely gone too far. Lost in thought, in some type of foolish idea. Noelle tried to run after him but her group members held her back with all their strength. No matter how much she struggled, they refused to let go. They had her too tight in their grasp. She started to cry and scream at the top of her lungs to no avail, watching her father approach the rampaging beasts in a trance like state.

    The two monsters were still in battle. Krystalak gained the upper hand and mule kicked Gomora in the face. The saurian crashed into a nearby hillside, unconscious as the doctor neared Krystalak’s shadow. Just then, Krystalak heard the meager inquiries of the good doctor. Orange eyes glared downward and spotted the meager human looking at him. Did the pest shouting not understand what he was? The impudence of the meager being caused Krystalak’s claws to twitch, and with a swift slide of its heel, the pest vanished into a pool of blood.

    The Crystalline Beast roared into the air like he had conquered not just one, but two battles until his murderous eyes spotted the other humans in the distance. Deciding it best to strike fear into those that remained, Krystalak turned around and shot out a barrage of gigantic, purple crystals from his tail. Normally they’d explode on contact but this time they stuck into the ground, missing every human. Everyone quivered in fear, feebly trembling on the ground as if to appease the monster and be spared a quick death. At least all but Noelle. With eyes unleashing tears, but a vacant expression, the young woman remained unnervingly calm in the face of the beast. Her mind only focused on a single question.

    “Why?”

    * * * * *

    Gomora awakened. He knew where he was and definitely remembered what had KO’d him briefly. Rising to his feet, he spotted Krystalak giving him an evil glare, sparking rage Gomora never thought he could unleash. The dinosaur charged toward Krystalak and speared him to the ground. Quickly the dinosaur, stomping on Krystalak’s stomach repeatedly to make him cough up blood. Krystalak echoed cries of agony with every stomp Gomora delivered. Krystalak couldn’t take the physical blows any longer and made a counterattack with his tail. The elongated weapon shot up and hit Gomora in his side, reeling him back. His foe within reach, Krystalak leapt onto Gomora, knocking him flat on his back. Dagger like claws swiped repeatedly over the saurians face before Krystalak drove his right elbow into Gomora’s throat, forcing him to cough blood. Gomora wailed in agony, but his cries grew deaf as Krystalak crushed Gomora’s throat.

    Krystalak relished the carnage. Did the horned creature think he would show mercy? No it would die like the human. Like all that would dare to take away the power which surged within the crystal!

    The mutant arose and slammed his foot upon the dinosaur’s neck. Gomora’s struggle intensified as he felt his wind-pipe being punctured. Gomora tried using his strength to raise Krystalak’s foot, but he was unsuccessful from the lack of oxygen. Rage filled eyes began to grow dull, the life vanishing before Krystalak’s malevolent glare until a light began to illuminate the saurian’s nasal horn. Charging oranage energy from his crescent horns, Gomora fired off a Super Oscillatory Wave. The arrogance of the mutant vanished in an overwhelming orange light which launched him backward at high speed and plowed the earth with his body.

    Krystalak groggily got back up, surprised by the power the dinosaur possessed. The admiration proved short lived as the mutant realized Gomora was running full speed at him. Deciding surprise was needed, Krystalak awaited until the saurian was within striking distance and spun, kneeing him in the face. Gomora cried out in agonizing pain as his head bled a little bit before receiving a tail swipe to the stomach, sparks flying everywhere. Krystalak gave a devastating uppercut to Gomora, sending him falling on his back. Gomora rapidly spun over onto his stomach and got to his knees with his head still down. Krystalak ran toward him and punted him in the chin almost breaking it.

    Gomora was in pain. Deep pain. He has cuts, bruises, dizziness, and a monster sized headache, but he wouldn’t let himself give up like this. Not in this way. Not by this monster. Determination morphed into energy, energy poured into Gomora’s horn and from Gomora’s unwillingness to relent birthed a Super Oscillatory Wave. Krystalak, now furious, released a Prism Beam from his mouth. Each energized blast soared to the other until they collided in an energetic battle of will. Bolts of energy carved through the dirt, harsh winds blew down trees, but neither kaiju showed signs of relenting. Gomora noticed his beam advancing and realizing his beam held the advantage, the saurian dumped his reserves into a final surge.

    Krystalak couldn’t believe his eyes as the wave of orange energy neared. Even after sending more power into his own attack, his beam was losing! No, he couldn’t lose. If he lost he would lose his-

    An energized explosion of sparks and shockwaves tore across the mutant’s face, breaking open its grew skin and shattering multiple crystals across his body. Krystalak crashed upon the dirt, struggling to arise and giving Gomora an opportunity he could not pass up. The powerhouse ran toward Krystalak and impaled him with his nasal horn. Krystalak screamed in agony as his torso was punctured. Gomora relished the scream and answered his opponent’s cry by letting loose as much Super Oscillatory energy into Krystalak’s entire body as he could muster. Krystalak panicked, feeling his heart race in sheer panic, or so he thought…

    The fiend’s heart absorbed the foolish dinosaur’s energy like a sponge. Realizing something was amiss, Gomora retracted his horn merely to watch Krystalak mockingly arise, his body emitting an overwhelming aura of purple energy. The malevolent gaze of Krystalak peered into Gomora’s and found true fear. Satisfied with the discovery, Krystlak let loose a shockwave that vaporized all within his presence. A plume of dust and sparks enveloped all within the slopes of Mt. Fuji, but as it vacated, Krystalak found the saurian no longer in his presence. Instead, a new geological feature graced his sight.

    Krystalak bellowed into the huge gaping hole in the ground, letting Gomora know to never mess with him ever again. He then raised his head high into the sky and howled to the heavens; the world would now know he was not to be trifled with!

    * * * * *

    Meanwhile, back near Mt. Fuji, the group felt relief in their escape from a certain death. Dr. Kennen’s daughter, Noelle, was still stricken by her father’s death but she wasn’t crying anymore. Something that saddened her, but amazed her at the same time. Her expression remained rigid, eyes filled with a rage and a desire to carry through the impossible. She would see her father’s killer meet their end. A fate she would acknowledge, make something of, and surely put to good use. She merely needed the tools to enact her ambitions…

    * * * * *

    It was time! The Crystalline Terror had turned around and laid his undivided attention onto the crystalline tower he came to achieve from the start. Krystalak walked up to the glowed entity and smiled devilishly at it.

    Energy…Power…Energy. Krystalak could now posses it all and so much more.

    Winner: Krystalak

    K.W.C. // October 1, 2020
  • Author: Jake McDaniel| Banner: Dao Zang Moua

    The waves around Okinawa Island danced and churned like a boiling pot, a paradox of calm and eeriness. As the waves lapped the rocky coast of the Japanese island, gulls and pelicans strayed from their nesting grounds to dive into the sea to capture the abundant fish that the sea was rich with. But only a few of the seabirds satisfied their bellies, as most returned home empty handed, unable to find food no matter how desperately they searched. For the seas surrounding Okinawa had mysteriously become silent in the past few days. The fish had simply ceased and the seas had become almost a dead zone, beautiful from above but lifeless when one breached the surface.

    This was first noticed by the local fishermen of Okinawa, hardened men and women whose lives depended on the supposedly bountiful seas. As more and more ships returned home with barely anything of note, panic began to set in across the island. Local villages appealed to government offices for answers, begging to know why the fish had vanished. Scientists of all flavors were called in and offered theories, most blaming the event on global warming or overfishing. But of course, no conclusive evidence was reached and as the top minds of Japan continued to argue, the villages began to suffer, deprived both of their relied upon, hard fought incomes and indeed, food altogether. If the fish continued to not come, then they would be out of work and all they had strived for would simply vanish, in the blink of an eye.

    So, they pressed on. Fishing vessels continued to go out, praying that the fish would return. One such ship lingered now, about six miles off the island, bouncing among the waves under the late afternoon sun.

    The ship was a small vessel, well cared for but nothing impressive. Slathered on its side was the name Dancing Tiger, drawn in paint that was old and faded. Upon the ship, nestled on the side, was an old fisherman. He looked the part of a stereotypical man of the sea, his bald head hidden by a baseball cap, while a wool vest covered his lanky, wrinkled frame. Callused hands gripped his fishing rod, as the old man grimly cast it into the choppy surf for what felt like the hundredth time. He knew it was futile but there was a spark of hope each time he threw it. That this time he would get a bite. But, of course, he knew deep down it was hopeless. Yet to admit defeat went against his nature and more importantly, would say that his work was pointless. So he cast the line in the sea and sat upon a chair on the deck, sighing as he stroked his face’s stubble and began to wait.

    “Beer, dad?” A younger man’s voice came from behind him. The old man looked up and saw a fresh faced man approaching him from the other side of the ship. His son was a tall man, with a healthy build that would be the envy of any athlete. He bore a chipper smile upon his handsome features as he approached his father, two glasses of cold beer in his grasp.

    The old man sighed and raised a hand before shaking his head. “No thank you, Higa. I just want to focus.”

    Higa frowned before he shrugged and said, “Alright, more for me I suppose…” The young man sat next to his father, uncorking one beer. He took a drink and smacked his lips. “Ah, that’s the stuff…”

    The old man just grunted in response, continuing to stare at the sea. His son was his constant companion on these trips, lending his hand to the work and learning the family trade at the same time. He was a fine fisherman but not an expert and so, the old man handled the actual fishing while Higa did everything else, from driving the ship to manual labor. He was a dutiful son but the old man still worried about him, wondering if when he was gone, the boy would be good enough to inherit control over his life’s work.

    “Anything biting?” Higa said, pulling the old man from his thoughts. The old man glowered and simply grunted:

    “No.”

    “When was the last time you saw a fish shortage this bad?”

    “Never.”

    “Oh.”

    There was another moment of awkward silence, which Higa filled by taking a long sip of his beer. The old man just continued to stare at the sea, watching his line bob amongst the sloshing waves. He felt grim, staring out into that blue majesty, wondering if the depths below were truly lifeless.

    “What do you think’s going to happen?” Higa spoke up again. The old man took a breath, beginning to be annoyed by his son’s chatter. He needed to think, to focus.

    “I don’t know,” The old man growled, trying to make his frustration known. “Now be quiet. I’m trying to focus.”

    “But Dad, you said there weren’t any fish. What’s to focus-”

    “Just be quiet!” The old man snapped. Higa recoiled as if bitten, looking surprised. The old man waved his hand across the deck. “Just go and man the ship, alright? Check your Facebook or Twitter for all I care. I just need to be alone.”

    Higa bit his lip. For a moment, father and son stared at each other. Then Higa sighed and nodded. He rose and left without a word, disappearing down the stairs into the bowels of the Dancing Tiger. The old man watched him go before turning back to the waves. He exhaled in relief and leaned back in his chair, letting the salty breeze caress his features.

    He hadn’t meant to be so harsh. But he wasn’t in any mood to talk and Higa could be naively thickheaded unless one got the point across and more often than not, the old man had to be tough on him. He’d always been tough on his family, pushing them to work hard and he stood by that. The fish shortage was only proof that the world was growing harsher and it needed men to stand up to it, not children.

    Grunting, the old man finally began to reel in his line. This was pointless. He’d been out here for hours and not a single bite. It was time to go back in.

    As he did, however, there was suddenly a loud noise. It resembled the crash of a violent wave against the shore, all too familiar to the seasoned fisherman. He raised his eye, shielding his eyes from the sun as he scanned the waves. As he searched, he heard his son called:

    “Whoa! Look at that, Dad! Is that a whale?”

    There. The old man’s eyes widened as he spotted something in the distance. A hulking, giant rising up from the sea, a black shadow against the afternoon sun. Waves crashed around the monstrous thing as it rose taller and taller, until its form blocked the sun altogether and cast a giant shadow over their ship.

    There was a crash. The old man turned. Higa had dropped his beer bottle. The young man’s eyes were as wide as saucers, his mouth agape as he stared up. The old man dropped his fishing line, as a violent wave smashed against his ship. The Dancing Tiger was tossed around like a toy amidst the waves, water spraying over the deck as it lolled sideways. The old man lost his footing, slipping on the slick deck and gave a cry of pain as he slammed hard against the floor. He tried to move forward but the ship rocked sideways and he felt his stomach drop as his beloved boat lolled, a great groan escaping it as the waves knocked it back and forth. His chair was cast off the deck, spinning off into the ocean, along with other stuff upon the deck. He lunged out, his nails scratching against the deck, desperately searching for his son.

    He saw him, Higa, his arms wrapped around the guard rail for dear life. He was soaked and looked utterly terrified, another wave slamming violently against the ship’s underside. The old man reached out, trying to call for Higa, trying to reach him. But he had nothing to grab onto and the last thing he heard was Higa’s scream before he was violently ripped from the ship and fell.

    The last thing he saw was the sun in the beautiful cloudless sky, Higa’s scream still ringing in his ears before he slammed into the sea. The water felt like concrete as the old man rammed into it at pitch black speed and something snapped with a wet crunch. Pain flooded the old man’s senses before a wave dragged him into the cold depths and he knew no more.

    *****

    As the Dancing Tiger was torn apart by the churning sea, the shape that had caused its destruction finished its emergence. Water spilled off the creature’s bumpy hide, its red form contrasting against the crystal clear surf. It raised its long neck to the sky, its mouth curling back as the beast emitted a warbling roar that sounded like the mixture of an elephant’s trumpet and the cackle of a hyena. Its reptilian eyes moved over the sea, barely even noticing the human vessel it had smote with its breach before settling on Okinawa Island in the distance. The monster waved its bipedal arms and roared again before it began to stride across the sea, its titanic footfalls echoing across the ocean floor, its huge tail swishing behind its bulky form and generating more giant waves.

    Titanic was an appropriate word for the creature. For that was its name, bestowed long ago upon it by humans. Titanosaurus. A relic of the age of dinosaurs, the creature had survived in the depths of the ocean for many years, feeding off other giants such as whales and squid. Content to be left alone, Titanosaurus’s peace was disturbed when a human scientist had found him.

    Titanosaurus emitted another warbling noise as its mind twisted over the memories it half-remembered under the scientist’s control. It had done things, things against its very nature. Forced out of its natural habitat, it had been pushed into the world of humans and made to destroy. It remembered fire, it remembered violence, and most of all, it remembered pain. Titanosaurus’s entire body shuddered as it pooled over the memories again, thankful it had survived its time under the madman’s control. When it had been released, it had escaped back to the sea and returned to its domain, falling in and out of a comatose state as its many wounds slowly healed.

    But although its wounds were reduced to old scars at this point, the dinosaurian kaiju true wounds, its mental ones, had ceased to fade. Despite its memories being a dark fog of nightmares, they still cut deep. And over time, as Titanosaurus tried in vain to return to its former life, the monster’s emotions had turned from fear to hatred. Hatred of the creatures that had tormented him, hurt him. Hatred toward humanity itself.

    So, now Titanosaurus had emerged from the depths of the sea to enact its vengeance. It had followed its instincts and returned to the land it had unwillingly attacked years ago. Its grim gaze locked on the island and the prehistoric beast raised its great neck to the heavens, letting out a roar of vengeance to its former tormentors. A cry of revenge against not just the people of Japan but all humans. They would all suffer for what they had done to him.

    The colossal dinosaur continued its solitary march toward Okinawa, enormous waves lapping at its bulky thighs. But as Titanosaurus trudged ever closer to its destination, it suddenly paused. Its lips curled as it stopped, the miniature tsunamis it had conjured in its wake calming. The ancient monster twisted about, its clawed fingers flexing, as it sensed something. Another presence…another presence like him.

    There! Titanosaurus’s keen eyes, used to prowling the dark abysses of the sea, spotted another shape moving several yards away. The sea churned as something equally massive moved around him, glimpses of a giant shadow moving beneath the surface. Titanosaurus slammed its fists together before letting loose a warbling challenge! The dinosaur was not used to fighting but when pressed, it could be a fierce opponent. And now, it was eager to vent its rage on something, human or not.

    The shape continued to circle for several minutes and Titanosaurus began to grow impatient. Emitting an annoyed screech, the dinosaur raised its arms in a challenge and dived forth! Chunks of the seabed were torn away by the beast’s toes as the mighty dinosaur crashed into the ocean, intending to tackle whatever circled him.

    But the kaiju’s effort was for naught, as the monster burst downward and his claws tore harmlessly through the water. Snarling in rage, Titanosaurus twisted about in the water, searching for his unseen enemy.

    Movement caught the dinosaur’s attention, behind him. Titanosaurus spun around, bubbles bursting from his nostrils as he let loose another roar, muffled now underwater. There, he saw his enemy, the creature that had dared interrupt his desire for vengeance.

    It was another monster but the opposite, in many ways, to the lumbering Titanosaurus. This creature resembled a serpent, long and sleek, its scaly hide matching the color of the blue sea. It looked almost regal, tufts of hair and horns emerged from its snake-like head, as it opened its maw and hissed at the dinosaur. Two, small vestigial arms emerged from the serpent’s underbelly, grasping at the ocean floor, its coils swishing.

    This was Manda, former deity of the underwater kingdom of Mu. Like Titanosaurus, Manda had suffered at the humans hands, when an expedition of humans had arrived and using their technology, had destroyed Mu. The great kingdom that had withstood the fall of countless civilizations had finally fallen at the hands of the savage surface dwellers and Manda, for the first time, had been unable to stop its destruction. It itself had barely survived and at first, had considered joining its city in the great beyond. But after what felt like eons lingering among Mu’s ruins, Manda had decided that it could not die, it could not rest, until the humans had paid for their hubris.

    So now it had journeyed to the surface world and began a one monster war against mankind. It had begun with this island, taking it upon itself to frighten the fish that lingered in the coastal waters away. Like laying siege to a castle, it intended to starve Okinawa of its natural resource, slowly terrifying the humans until they were ripe for conquest. Then Manda would strike the killing blow, destroying each puny human settlement until they were all little more than ash. Mankind would pay, every last man, woman, and child. Manda would have no mercy for any of them, as they had no mercy for Mu.

    But now, a challenger had arrived. Manda glowered at the disgusting Titanosaurus, hating the sight of the prehistoric relic. This thing dared to challenge its right of vengeance? To defile the memory of Mu further by taking Manda’s final act from it? No. It would not stand in his way. Manda would have its revenge and no mere dinosaur would oppose it. Mankind was Manda’s to destroy!

    The two titans, fueled by mutual hatred, stared each other down. Titanosaurus’s claws flexed. Manda’s coiled form tensed. Then, without warning, they lunged for each other.

    Titanosaurus’s powerful tail propelled it forward, the dinosaur slashing out. Manda was faster and almost glided past Titinosaurus’s blows. It sank its fangs into the saurian’s shoulder and ripped through a chunk of flesh. Titanosaurus bellowed in pain and swiped for Manda. But the guardian of Mu easily avoided the blow again, slithering backward.

    Titanosaurus pressed forward, swimming after his opponent. The two chased each other through the waters, Manda’s graceful, almost dance-like movements easily outpacing Titanosaurus’s wrathful blows. Soon, the two swam to a rocky underwater canyon, Titanosaurus’s frustration growing with each missed swipe.

    Manda hissed in glee, enjoying the dinosaur’s torment. The sea dragon then swam forward, the dragon’s serpentine body ramming headlong into Titanosaurus’s torso. Surprised, the dinosaur was knocked backward and crashed against the ocean floor, chunks of seabed exploding under its weight. Manda pressed the advantage, its long fangs sinking into Titanosaurus’s neck while its body began to coil around the dinosaur, ignoring the saurian’s flails.

    Titanosaurus howled, its warble echoing across the ocean. The dinosaur’s fists pounded on Manda’s skull, but the sea dragon only tightened its hold. Its coils squeezed tighter and its fangs sank deeper into Titanosaurus’s neck. Blood flowed freely, bathing the scene around the two struggling giants crimson.

    Titanosaurus began to feel its bones cracking under Manda’s tremendous weight. Snarling, it lunged up and grabbed Manda’s midsection. With tremendous effort, the dinosaur pulled Manda’s jaws off its throat, chunks of its own flesh being torn away. Manda screeched, flailing, before Titanosaurus swung it sideways and bashed Manda’s head to the sea floor.

    Manda shrieked in pain, its head exploding in agony, its coils weakening around the dinosaur. Titanosaurus slammed Manda’s head down again, stunning the sea dragon enough for the dinosaur to stand up once again. With a mighty shake, Titanosaurus dislodged his enemy’s coils and freed himself from the guardian’s grasp.

    Manda hissed in pain but was cut off as Titanosaurus rammed its head a third time against the rocky seafloor. Tasting blood, Manda thrashed violently, trying to escape but the dinosaur but Titanosaurus held tight.

    Titanosaurus yanked Manda up, its claws tightening around the serpent. Manda began to struggle harder as the dinosaur began to strangle it, bubbles escaping its maw. Its tail slapped against the saurian’s legs but the blows were ineffective, barely noticed by the prehistoric titan. The saurian’s hold grew tighter and Manda felt its air begin cut off, splotches of black dancing in its eyes.

    Enough, The guardian of Mu thought angrily. Its tail snaked upward and slammed against the back of Titanosaur’s head. The dinosaur gave a cry of surprise and for an instant, its grip weakened. Manda slithered free like an eel and swam upward, giving Titanosaurus another tail slap as it passed.

    Titanosaurus shook itself and bellowed angrily before looking up, spotting its opponent fleeing. The mighty dinosaur roared, enraged that this creature was causing him such trouble. Pounding its arms together, it swished its mighty tail and pursued the serpent.

    The two kaiju pursued each other for several moments, exchanging challenging hisses and bellows before they reached the surface. Manda breached first, its long form slamming free of the underwater world below. Titanosaurus followed not far behind, the mighty dinosaur bursting out of the violent surf yards away.

    The primal survivor of the Mesozoic Era and the last guardian of Mu faced off amidst the surf. Such a spectacle was incredible, two veritable colossuses standing against one another, like forces of nature clashing. Titanosaurus reared up, shrieking, before striding through the waters, lunging for Manda.

    The sea dragon dived, slipping between the dinosaur’s legs. Titanosaurus’s claws clapped together, striking naught but water. Manda then burst from behind the saurian, lunging upward and slamming itself into the dinosaur’s neck, teeth sinking into the wound it had already made. Titanosaurus shrieked, staggering, before Manda’s coils wrapped around its torso, binding the beast’s arms against its hide.

    Titanosaurus staggered back and forth, Manda biting down, drinking the dinosaur’s blood. The saurian’s tail slapped against the ocean, but Manda’s grip was like steel and Titanosaurus could not break it, restrained as it was. Its teeth snapped ineffectively, feeling its enemy’s teeth sink deeper with each passing moment.

    Titanosaurus screamed in rage. This creature dared to deny him his vengeance? It dared to stand against him? It dared to deny him what he sought for all that he suffered? Was all his pain to be for nothing at the hands of this snake?

    No! No it wouldn’t be!

    Titanosaurus swung his neck sideways, jerking Manda back and forth. The sea dragon held on but its teeth rocked about and came slightly loose. Titanosaurus then pushed off the ground and fell sideways, slamming Manda hard against the sea. Manda’s head was yanked free in a rush of blood and flesh, sending pain through Titanosaurus’s body but the dinosaur had suffered worse.

    Before Manda could press its attack, Titanosaurus lunged forward and sank his own into the serpent’s snout. He bit down hard, his serrated fangs making short work of Manda’s nostrils. The sea dragon snarled in defiance and responded by tightening its coiled grip around the saurian. Titanosaurus’s pinned arms began to go numb with pain, his bones cracking under the strain. Titanosaurus merely narrowed its eyes and sank its teeth deeper into Manda’s snout.

    The two monsters held onto each other, Manda squeezing, Titanosaurus biting, each increasing the pressure on the other. The sea raged around them as they struggled for dominance, each trying to make the other submit, each refusing to give in.

    Finally, there came a loud crunch as one of Titanosaurus’s arms popped and snapped. The limb went numb and the saurian gave a muffled, warbling cry of pain but only increased its bite against Manda. Manda continued to squeeze, glaring eye to eye with the dinosaur, lips curling, coils tightening to break the dinosaurs’ second arm.

    Then, suddenly, Titanosaurus let go. Surprised, Manda let out a squeal of pain as the sudden release caused it to fly backward. Its coils unwound, releasing their grip at the sudden shock and Titanosaurus’s remaining arm yanked itself free. The dinosaur’s arm swung and knocked Manda off, the sea dragon crashing back into the sea, mammoth waves splashing against Titanosaurus’s belly.

    Manda hissed in rage, shaking itself as it recovered. It burst out of the ocean again, ready to renew its attack and finish the troublesome saurian. But as soon as it broke through the surface, it paused, surprised by what it saw.

    Titanosaurus had turned around, tail aimed at Manda like a cannon. Manda’s momentary shock didn’t allow it to capitalize on this before Titanosaurus’s tail suddenly opened into a large, organic fan-like shape. With a powerful swing, the dinosaur swung its tail back and forth, the huge appendage sending enormous tufts of gale-force wind to assault Manda.

    Manda screeched as it found itself buffeted by a hurricane. Winds tore at the sea, churning the ocean like a cauldron as whirlpools and enormous waves slammed into the sea dragon all ocean. The creature tried to fight, tried to push forward but the riptide was tremendous, even more than it could withstand. After mere moments of fruitless fighting, the winds yanked Manda backward and a wave yanked the sea dragon underwater, sending it spinning end over end until it slammed face first into the seabed, crushing chunks of abandoned reef and rock.

    Manda tried to rise, its stubby limbs grasping at the rocks. But Titanosaurus’s enormous foot ploughed through the water, slamming down on Manda’s skull and pinning it down. Manda flailed, enraged, but it was trapped beneath Titanosaurus’s superior strength. Titanosaurus grinded his foot against Manda’s head before raising it and slamming it down. And again. And again. And again!

    Each foot slam conjured a miniature earthshake, shockwaves ploughing through the ocean floor and reducing whole swaths of the abandoned ecosystem to dust. Soon, the water was a mix of black and red, dust and blood mixing together in a great cloud. Manda’s writhing grew weaker and weaker with each blow until at last, the sea dragon stopped moving.

    Titanosaurus paused. The dinosaur’s nostrils flared, its broken arm dangling uselessly at its side, its neck oozing blood from its bite wounds. Slowly, the saurian removed its foot and reached down into the water with its remaining hand. It searched for a moment through the dust cloud before it founded Manda’s unmoving form. He pulled the serpent out of the ocean and examined it.

    Manda’s body lolled in Titanosaurus’s grasp, the great guardian of Mu’s head barely recognizable anymore. The once beautiful creature’s head had been stomped until now it was a pulpy, splintered mess of brains and bone. Titanosaurus sniffed it before raising its head and giving a triumphant cry to the heavens. He had won! Manda was dead!

    Titanosaurus carelessly dropped Manda’s corpse, sending it crashing to its watery grave. The dinosaur then looked at itself and grimaced. Its new wounds would take time to heal and although it had been victorious, it was angered to know that it could not attack Japan in this state. No, it must return to its home once again, to rest and recover.

    Titanosaurus bellowed in rage, fixing Okinawa with a final, merciless glare before turning around and beginning its long trudge back home. Soon, the dinosaur had waded into deep waters many miles offshore and dived beneath the surface, disappearing into darkness once more. Calm came over the sea again, the afternoon sun glittering off the surface.

    ******

    In the aftermath, a young man washed up on shore some hours later, barely alive but was recovered by some locals and sent to a hospital. It was Higa, who had been thrown from the ship but somehow had managed to survive, even as the two kaiju fought tooth and claw around him. He had been knocked unconscious at some point and could recall little of the encounter but he knew one thing: the monster that had come from the sea had killed his father. As he lay recovering in his bed, he stared out the window, which offered a perfect view of the sea. Most patients would be grateful for the view but Higa could only muster revulsion. He requested his curtains be shut. He would no longer bear to look at the sea, for it had taken his father from him. He knew what lay beneath now and it was something dark, something evil. The only emotions he could conjure now when he thought of the sea was hatred and a newfound desire…

    A desire for revenge.

    As for Manda’s corpse, it rotted in the depths, an undignified end for the proud deity. But it offered one final, ironic thing to the sea it had called home. Its massive body attracted thousands of fish from miles away and slowly, but surely, the seas around Okinawa began to return to life. Out of destruction was born new life, an optimistic future for Okinawa being renewed…

    Winner: Titanosaurus

    K.W.C. // September 20, 2020
  • Author: Joshua Strittmatter | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    Janjira, Japan. 6:20 A.M.

    The first hints of orange light began to peek above the mountainous landscape of Japan, slowly changing the light of the night sky from a blackish-brown to a dark blue. Morning was just on the horizon, and the very first bird call announced itself to the new dawn, singing the songs that welcomed a new day into existence. Minute by minute passed, and the slowly growing orange light peeking bit by bit over the mountains illuminated the silhouettes of tall, rectangle-shaped towers of steel, concrete and glass. An old city, long abandoned by its human creators, with the buildings now slowly being overtaken by moss and vines. Whereas fifteen years ago only one species dominated this concrete jungle, now countless different creatures called this place their home in their absence. As the sun’s light bathed the slowly brightening sky in a heavenly, almost otherworldly glow, more slumbering lifeforms began to awaken from their carefree rest and begin their usual activities. Birds of all different kinds began to crawl out of their nests and spread their wings as they took flight, soaring proudly to new perches to search for breakfast or gaze from the tallest buildings and scour their human-made habitat. Insects, arachnids, and millipedes alike began to emerge from their sleeping holes and crawl silently across their chosen territories, searching for whatever biological matter their species’ diet consisted of to sate their morning hunger. The sun was now halfway over the horizon, outlining Mt. Fuji like a shadow as its rays of light reflected off the clouds and turned them into an alien pink color. Morning was now here, and the entire abandoned city of Janjira came alive at its coming.

    However, birds, bugs and small mammals weren’t the only organisms that heeded the silent call of the new dawn.

    The water offshore began to bubble and foam in massive gouts, with a bright cerulean glow visible underneath. Something massive was about to show itself to the island country of Japan for the first time in over half a century, the ominous glow from the deep growing brighter and brighter as the entity got closer to the surface. Finally, the foaming gouts of seawater billowed high above the surface and burst apart, falling back into the sea as a reptilian monolith emerged from the froth with a long, deep growl that rattled the island for miles. All organisms with auditory receptors froze in terror as the bipedal dinosaur waded through the shallow water, shaking the earth with each footstep upon the underwater sandy coach, until finally the behemoth took a step onto dry land. Both his eyes and his rocky, maple leaf-shaped dorsal plates glowing with blue bioluminescence, Godzilla, King of the Monsters released a growling yawn as he flexed his claws and cracked his bones into place, taking a small moment to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and the warmth of the newborn glow of the morning sun. After a good thirty seconds, the 250 million-year-old Alpha Predator snorted before beginning to trudge along the shoreline, following it to where he needed to be. About half a mile up was his objective-the old power plant, formerly the man-made womb of a male of the MUTO species. Even after a few years, he could still barely smell the scent of his now dead nemesis.

    But there were no MUTOs here-at least, he didn’t think so. Something else was amiss here, and the old power plant was the perfect place to wait before he pinpointed the exact location of whatever it was that drew him to this island for the first time in many years.

    Finally taking a right and lumbering onto dry land, Godzilla trudged toward the old outpost, the smell of decaying radioactivity and MUTO flesh growing in his nostrils. But strangely, he couldn’t smell anything else. No peculiar scents of any other abnormal entities, just all the natural inhabitants of this old habitat. Now where could this unseen being be hiding?

    Rearing his head back, the nuclear reptile curled his lips in a snarl and began to suck in a great breath of air through his bared teeth, filling his throat with it. If the unseen entity was slumbering somewhere hidden, somewhere that he himself couldn’t get to, maybe a battle cry would wake it up and draw it out.

    His throat now filled with air, the Monster King snapped his head forward and let loose the godly roar that he had made famous, keeping it up for a good eight seconds before finally letting it fade to a low drone that for a moment seemed to echo on for an eternity.

    Other than the many flocks of birds that now took flight in terror, there was no response. Eventually, everything went quiet once again, as if he had never made a noise to begin with. Seconds passed slower than they should have to the ancient leviathan as he waited, his peeled ears not picking up a single response. The land was tranquil once again… … …

    The faint noise of rocks rolling, so faint they might not have even existed, somewhat startled Godzilla as his head snapped in the direction of the noise. More and more small rocks and chunks of dirt and earth began to roll down the slopes of Mount Fuji as the area began to rumble and quake. A toothy sneer crept across Godzilla’s lips. He knew it was not an ordinary earthquake. Something had heard his challenge and was about to answer it. Now THIS was what he had been waiting for!

    Suddenly, the ground 300 meters away from the end of the mountain’s slope imploded, caving in to birth a massive hole in the earth, revealing part of an underground cave.

    And within it, something began to force its way out of the subterranean realm.

    Two leathery wings snapped in a V-shape out of the hole, pointed and scaly. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a MUTO. A loud cackle that rivaled Godzilla’s own roar ripped from the crater as another prehistoric form rose from the depths of the earth. The wings flapped powerfully as they soon revealed themselves to be attached to a bipedal pterosaur with flaming red skin. A beak filled with pointed teeth swallowed the remains of a rhinoceros-sized insect before opening to release another cackle, the beast’s two yellow eyes glaring angrily at the one who dared challenge it. A crown of three horns sat behind its bird-like head, giving the beast a rightfully regal appearance. Godzilla growled at this newcomer, his eyes narrowed into slits as they focused, his muscles tensing and readying for combat. Now he understood the sounds he had heard that had drawn him here. It must have been the awakening of this beast, and its feeding of its meal.

    The giant Pteranodon cackled angrily, demanding this newcomer leave his territory immediately. Godzilla only roared in defiance, his pride eclipsed all other emotions in this moment. Regardless of whose territory it was, Godzilla was NEVER one to back off at the beckoning of another giant.

    The Monster King could smell the high levels of radioactivity reeking off this new beast. While it was true that creatures from his time naturally used to feed off radiation, this creature’s radiation levels were WAY too high for it to be natural. Not to mention, the beast’s scent was identical to a species he still remembered to this day, a species he thought long extinct. One that flourished in the final stages of the age of the dinosaurs. Apparently, not only had said species survived, but this member in the present day had been exposed to man-made nuclear weapons and radioactive material that mutated it into a colossal beast like him, like the creatures he used to fight for a living back in his prime.

    The fact that it was an unnatural mutant made it even more dangerous, so Godzilla knew that this fight might be even more challenging than he thought. Even the look in its eyes showed no fear whatsoever, and that made Godzilla slightly nervous. Back in his day when he announced his presence, a good deal of his foes would show the slightest hint of fear. And rightfully so. But this creature didn’t seem to care about his kingly status in the slightest. However dangerous this was going to be, this was a fight that needed to be done nonetheless. This mutation may very well be too strong in power for the planet to support, strong enough to offset the balance of life, and for that it had to be taken down.

    Answering the nuclear titan’s roar with another battle cry, the mutated Pteranodon known as Rodan spread his wings and kicked off the ground, flying fearlessly toward this new threat to his territory. He didn’t want a fight, but it was clear that this beast had no intention of backing off from his mountain home. So, if it was a fight that it wanted, it was a fight it shall get.

    With shocking speed that took the Permian king by surprise, Rodan flew straight at Godzilla. Before the Monster King could counter, the pterosaur slammed head-first into his chest, knocking the wind out of him and sending him toppling to the ground. A reptilian snarl escaped Godzilla’s jaws as he snapped at Rodan, but he easily passed overhead. Screeching like a godly bird, the giant monster of the skies circled around for another go, the air itself seeming to warp behind him as he flew. Godzilla growled as he began to climb to his feet-only for Rodan to slam into the back of his neck from behind, flooring him once again. For the first time ever, Godzilla was the first to fall during a fight. Genuinely, he was both shocked and a little impressed. This foe was not only incredibly fast-faster than anything he had fought before-but also it was very physically powerful. It wasn’t often he met a foe with a weaker stature than his own capable of sending him crashing to the earth with a mere body slam. Even the male MUTO from a few years ago had needed to fully yank him by the shoulders just to pull him across a city away from its mate.

    Godzilla decided to lay low this time, immediately picking up on his foe’s attack pattern. If he were to stand up, he would just get knocked down again. It was time to do the waiting game.

    Rodan screeched as he flew in again, slashing Godzilla across the nape with his spiked chest, drawing a shower of sparks and pieces of scaly skin. Godzilla kept still, his belly pressed firmly against the ground. Noticing his foe had stopped moving, Rodan stopped to hover a few meters away, flapping his wings lightly to keep airborne. The irradiated Pteranodon blinked in slight confusion. Had his foe admitted defeat already? It clearly seemed to be in a bowed position, its head and neck resting on the ground in a submissive pose. But still, there was a problem-it was still in his territory, and Rodan wasn’t bent on sharing. He wanted this intruder out of here now, or else it might become his next meal.

    Rodan screeched a warning to the radioactive dinosaur, and still it didn’t budge. It just lay there, frozen in place like a sleeping turtle, ignoring him. Now the pterosaur was pissed! Cackling a second time, Rodan began to fly toward the still behemoth-and suddenly screeched in surprise when Godzilla burst from the ground like a crocodile and tackled him to the ground, jaws crunching onto his left shoulder. A roar of outrage ripped from Rodan’s throat as Godzilla slammed him to the ground, kicking up large clouds of dust as he did so. The king of the skies tried to right himself, but Godzilla wouldn’t let him and stomped a foot down onto his stomach. Roaring in temporary victory at how the tables had turned, Godzilla began to kick and stomp onto the downed Rodan, eliciting cries of pain and frustration that echoed across the ghost city of Janjira, causing countless animals to hide in their homes in fear. The King of the Monsters roared in domination as he assailed the flying reptile, stomping and kicking him into the ground until he decided when it would be fatally wounded. But even despite the pterosaur’s smaller stature, his armored body held together without breaking once. To say Rodan felt no pain from being kicked in the stomach repeatedly would be false, but it was saying something that his body prevented Godzilla’s 90,000 metric-ton bulk from stomping a mud hole through his seemingly frail build.

    As Rodan continued to shriek in defiance, Godzilla lifted his left foot over his chest, a killer look in his eye. Rodan just glared right back into those eyes, fear nonexistent. Godzilla didn’t know whether the pterodactyloid was either incredibly brave or unbelievably stupid to show no fear in the face of his executioner, but it didn’t matter. He seemed to be accepting his death, so Godzilla would give it to him. The nuclear giant slammed his foot down with all his might…

    A sickening crack of flesh being pierced echoed in the air, and the King of the Monsters bellowed in agony and recoiled, blood flowing from the holes ripped into his foot. Rodan, his plan having worked, roared in fury as he flew to his feet and rushed his opponent, Godzilla’s blood now staining his chest spikes. The ancient saurian thrashed in confusion as Rodan latched himself to his shoulders, pecking and biting aggressively at his head and face. Blood flew into the air as his beak continuously stabbed into his flesh, and Godzilla fought to grab him-only for Rodan to surprise him by quickly letting go of his shoulders and flying around behind him, continuing to peck away at the back of his neck. The Monster King snapped ferociously behind him in a vain attempt to shake the pterosaur off, but Rodan hovered just out of reach before continuing his attack. Having regained the upper hand of the fight, Rodan released a dominating cackle and repeatedly slashed away at the rock-hard skin on Godzilla’s back with his talons.

    But Godzilla was neither down nor out.

    Rodan kept up his attack-then shrieked in surprise when something hard collided with his back, sending him flying forward and crashing to the ground. Flapping his wings, Rodan struggled to regain his footing, and as he looked behind him he realized that the cause of his current position had been the nuclear dinosaur’s long, segmented tail. Finally righting himself, Rodan stood up on two legs and turned as quickly as he could to face his opponent, and immediately was startled to see Godzilla charging him like a sumo wrestler. The King of the Monsters slammed head-on into the winged Kaiju, and this time he didn’t take any chances. Seizing Rodan by the throat with both hands, Godzilla began to throttle the mutated Pteranodon, who gagged and choked profusely in a helpless attempt to cry out from lack of air. Yellowish foam began to build in the flying reptile’s mouth as he began to run low on oxygen, but still the mighty Rodan refused to fall.

    Flapping his wings as hard and fast as he could, Rodan kicked up a burst of hurricane-force winds point-blank at his captor, who soon began struggling to breathe himself due to the high pressure of wind blowing in his face. Rodan flapped faster, and soon the Monster King’s grip loosened.

    And Rodan capitalized on the opportunity.

    Lunging forward with a burst of energy, Rodan collided with the dazed alpha predator and plunged his beak into the left set of Godzilla’s gills.

    His eyes suddenly widening with pain and shock, Godzilla bellowed in excruciating agony as he felt his own blood began to spill down his throat and into his lungs. Realizing the saurian was likely to retaliate heavily, Rodan kicked off the wounded predator and landed a good 300 meters away just as Godzilla attempted to lash out. His claws slashing nothing but empty air, Godzilla huffed and puffed as he took a moment to stare at his enemy.

    This creature was a powerful fighter, far stronger than Godzilla ever thought possible. For the first time in many thousands of years, Godzilla had met a beast that was, from what he had seen, every bit his equal. He had to turn the tide back in his favor with a new plan of attack if he were to win this fight, otherwise there was a high chance he could lose not only his title, but also his life to this winged monstrosity. It was high time to bring out the big guns.

    A deep crackle followed by repeated hums growing in volume rang in the air, as one by one Godzilla’s dorsal plates lit up like Christmas Trees, glowing with inner radiation. His formerly orange eyes lit up with neon blue light, signaling the coming of his signature attack, the one he had carried out the execution of so many foes with. Godzilla took in a breath of air, Rodan realizing the error of standing still in confusion too late before the Monster King opened his jaws and a concentrated blast of pure radiation flew into existence. The atomic beam struck Rodan’s upper torso, and the predatory pterosaur cackled in minor pain as the blast singed his armored flesh, digging his claws into the ground as the beam pushed him back a fair distance. The Permian predator kept his atomic breath going for a good eight seconds before temporarily ceasing fire, his spines still aglow.

    Godzilla did not like what he was seeing.

    Normally an opponent would reel in agony from an attack like that, but this creature’s armored skin was too thick for his breath to deal a serious injury that he needed right now. So far, a black splotch mark of charred skin on Rodan’s chest was all the attack had achieved: unless other body parts of the pterosaur were more vulnerable to such extremes, his most powerful weapon was more insult than injury. Rodan stared hard at Godzilla, pride and fury glinting in his yellow eyes. So, this beast had a ranged attack, did it?

    Okay. Two could play that game.

    His spines keeping their glow, Godzilla charged at Rodan. The Pteranodon took flight once again, beginning to fly in circles around the radioactive behemoth. Standing in the middle, Godzilla waited patiently, keeping his eyes fixed on the flying reptile like a bird of prey. His gaze never left Rodan, who continued to circle around him like a malevolent vulture.

    Then, when Rodan was least expecting it, Godzilla suddenly fired a second time.

    His aim was spot on and struck Rodan in the face. The force of the blast gave the monster of the skies a mild concussion, causing him to fall to the ground with a painful thud! Godzilla took the opportunity to unleash cerulean hell upon Rodan’s spiny back, and sure enough the pterosaur’s screeches of pain were a little more deafening this time. His skin must not have been as armored as it was on his torso.

    The glow finally fading from his spines, Godzilla ceased fire. It would be a bit before his energy levels recharged to full power. His back and left side of his face burnt, Rodan shook his head as he regained his focus. He began to cackle and flap his wings, seemingly attempting to regain flight. But Godzilla wouldn’t let him, and immediately got low and charged at him. Rodan only smirked at this, ceasing his act.

    His ploy had worked.

    The horns on the back of his head began to glow and crackle with energy, and before Godzilla knew what hit him a purple beam of atomic radiation equal in power to his own burst from Rodan’s beak and struck his chest, searing his scales and eliciting a bellow of pain from the Alpha Predator. Rodan didn’t let up and continued to fire, the heat ray burning the flesh on Godzilla’s chest to molten slag. The King of the Monsters shifted himself best he could and presented his more armored back to take the brunt of the fiery assault, but that didn’t stop the pain. Ceasing fire, Rodan cackled at the old reptile before taking flight straight at him. Godzilla dug his feet into the ground to prevent himself being floored as Rodan smacked into him, piercing the burnt flesh with his beak due to its weakened state. Godzilla took advantage of his current position and swung around a full 180 degrees, smacking Rodan with his tail and sending him crashing down very close to the old power plant.

    Godzilla rushed him, attempting to reach him before he took flight, but quickly Rodan turned around and flapped his wings together, creating a powerful sonic boom that forced the Monster King away in a shower of sparks. Spreading his wings once more, Rodan took to the skies above the ancient dinosaur, spewing a second Uranium Heat Beam that seared into Godzilla’s shoulder. The savior of San Francisco bellowed angrily at the mutant Pteranodon, and the only reply was another Uranium Beam striking the back of his neck. As Godzilla recoiled, Rodan preformed a dive bomb and struck him in the side, causing him to fall to one knee. Godzilla lashed with his tail, but Rodan veered away and back up into the air, spewing a fourth heat beam afterward. Fighting the pain, Godzilla let the potent radiation be absorbed into his system, giving him a much-needed boost of power. Rodan preformed another dive bomb, and Godzilla swung around with his tail-only to be met with a shock when, mere inches away from him, Rodan suddenly clapped his wings together and shot upward like a rocket, creating yet another sonic boom that ripped through Godzilla’s form.

    That included his gills.

    Godzilla now realized that this beast was toying with him, and with a loud roar of frustration he demanded the pterosaur come down and face him. The only response he got was Rodan diving downward before suddenly straightening himself and flying straight overhead the Monster King, slashing his skull with his chest spikes.

    As Rodan tried to take back off, Godzilla snapped out a hand and grabbed hold of the pterosaur’s ankle. A surprised cackle left Rodan’s throat as Godzilla yanked him back, grabbing hold of his wings in his claws. Rodan screamed in rage as Godzilla dug his claws into the thin membranes, shredding them at the lower parts while he also chomped down on his neck. While Rodan’s neck was armored, it wasn’t enough to fully stop Godzilla’s teeth from piercing his flesh and drawing spurts of blood. Crying out in pain, Rodan was angrier than ever. Flapping his wings madly, Rodan thrashed like an enraged bird of prey, so much that even Godzilla was having a hard time keeping a firm grip on him. Clouds of dust were kicked up by the gusts of wind given off by the Pteranodon’s struggling, obscuring both monsters’ vision, but nevertheless Godzilla bit down harder.

    In a mad act of fury and desperation, Rodan thrust his head back repeatedly with all the strength in his neck, jabbing his crown of horns into Godzilla’s neck. The Monster King groaned and released his grip at the attack, gagging a spurt of blood. But he was unprepared when Rodan thrust his head back once again, jabbing his horns into the saurian’s gills. A scream of pain echoed from the dinosaur’s jaws, and with a jerk of his head Rodan tore free and ripped himself out of Godzilla’s grasp afterward, flying a good distance away before landing, taking a moment to rest.

    The mutated Pteranodon watched as the Permian apex predator heaved in pain from the previous attack, struggling to breathe properly with his bloodied, torn gills. And in that moment, Rodan understood. He now knew this creature’s major weak point, and he sought to exploit it. His eyes narrowing as a new plan entered his mind, Rodan put his rest on hold as he cackled at the King of the Monsters, who responded with a roar of his own.

    Kicking off the earth, Rodan flew straight at Godzilla, who’s dorsal spines began to light up once more. Realizing what this meant, Rodan still continued to fly straight at the nuclear titan, who he guessed would be anticipating him to preform another type of surprise attack.

    Godzilla, who was expecting the pterosaur to veer away at the last second and pull yet another fancy trick, was instead met with surprise when Rodan didn’t stop his course and slammed head-on into his chest, knocking him to the ground. Struggling quickly to his feet, Godzilla saw out of the corner of his eye Rodan preform another dive bomb from the side. His nuclear power fully charged, the Monster King snapped around and let loose an atomic blast that scorched the Pteranodon’s face, knocking him back with a roar of pain. Flying backward, Rodan repositioned himself mid-air before ascending higher above the nuclear giant, who fired off a second blast that continued to scorch his armored torso. Ignoring the minor pain, Rodan hovered for a moment before diving away when Godzilla started to aim the blast at his wings. His left wing suffering only a small tannish mark, the irradiated pterosaur dove down at Godzilla once again. Godzilla fired off a third blast, but the flying reptile was too fast and dodged it with ease before clapping his wings together as he passed Godzilla by, creating a shockwave that rippled through his right set of gills. Bellowing in pain and frustration, Godzilla spun around and fired off a fourth atomic ray that managed to minorly graze the pterosaur’s side. Rodan cackled almost mockingly before spewing a Uranium Heat Beam that struck the dinosaur’s chest, before suddenly moving it up to his left set of gills.

    Reacting immediately, Godzilla brought his arms up to take the full, painful force of the assault-which left him open to attack when Rodan ceased fire and dove straight at him. This time, Godzilla smashed his tail into the ground and jumped at the pterodactyloid-only for him to preform a loop and smack his beak straight into his forehead, sending him falling back down to the earth with a thunderous boom!

    As Godzilla groaned in pain and exhaustion, Rodan fired off another Uranium beam that seared yet again into his gills. Godzilla was beginning to have trouble breathing from the burnt slits, reduced to all but wheezing profusely as he struggled to take gulps of air. He tried to push himself off the ground, but with another blast to his side he was sent back down.

    Even though a part of him knew there was no way to counter his enemy’s spamming, sheer determination and pride to not lose his crown kept the King of the Monsters going as he rose to his feet once again. Even if this was the day he met his match, he would still fight with every last breath until death finally overtook him. And, with 250 million years of life behind him, he roared in the face of death. He had lived this long, facing countless different horrors that plagued the planet. He would try whatever it took to see to it that this was not his last day on earth.

    Godzilla bellowed as he rose to his feet, and almost immediately was met with a Uranium Beam to his face. Blindsided, the Monster King could only reel back before something immensely strong slammed right past him from the left, slashing his gills once again and drawing yet more blood. Rodan roared, his chest spikes stained with fresh blood of the Permian alpha, before proceeding to fire yet another beam. Beam after beam, dive bomb after dive bomb, shockwave after shockwave, Godzilla was all but helpless as Rodan trolled him for several minutes. But even in spite of the brutal assault he was undergoing, in spite of the horrible exhaustion that bit at every inch of his form, the King of the Monsters fought with every fiber of his being to keep fighting and standing no matter how many times he was knocked down.

    Rodan fired off yet another beam that scorched Godzilla’s gills, and as Godzilla strained in unbearable agony he was caught off guard when the mutated Pteranodon swooped past him and sliced open his other set with his chest spines. As the king of the skies came back for another round, Godzilla kept his eyes trained on him every second in spite of his slowly draining strength, trying his best to keep a level head in his desperate state.

    Suddenly, Rodan looped around and changed course, beginning to fly away. Godzilla blinked in surprise. The creature looked to be fleeing…yet there was no reason to be. Immediately, something felt very off about what was happening, and Godzilla braced himself for whatever deed the irradiated pterosaur was planning to carry out next.

    It first started as a faint ringing sound, like a fighter jet flying at the speed of light. As the noise grew louder and louder, Godzilla’s eyes widened at what they saw. Rodan was coming at him from a distance, and he was coming in fast. Faster than he ever had before. From what it looked like, he was flying in a straight pattern, with no signs of slowing down. If that creature hit him with such a force, the results would be devastating. He braced himself, flexing his tail behind him as he prepared to swing it, remembering when the male MUTO had preformed a similar feat so long ago, and how he had slain him. How ironic it was, that here he was now, at his nemesis’ birthplace, now he himself in a more desperate state than ever as he prepared to let fate decide whether or not the tactic he used to kill his nemesis would work this time. Time seemed to slow as the Pteranodon neared. The nuclear giant had only one shot at this… … …

    Rodan cackled as he began to near the old relic, who stood firm with a slight hunch, baring his teeth and glaring fearlessly. His own eyes narrowing, Rodan propelled himself at the fastest he had ever flown as he rapidly closed the gap between himself and the ancient predator. Closer and closer he drew, until he was right on top of him.

    Godzilla’s nerves snapped, and he readied to swing-

    -and another Uranium Beam shot from Rodan’s beak, striking Godzilla’s nose and burning his sinuses. With a roar that would’ve made the deepest cavities in the earth tremble, the Alpha Predator was helpless as Rodan collided into his upper torso at full, furious force.’

    90,000 metric tons of monolithic flesh and prehistoric muscle were sent flying a full mile away before the King of the Monsters finally splashed down into the water, vanishing in a towering splash.

    Flapping his wings and propelling himself backward, Rodan lost velocity as he finally landed upon the beach with a thud, letting loose a booming cackle of victory for all the entire island of Japan to hear. As his beak closed and stopped expelling his powerful cry, he continued to stand at the edge of the beach, waiting for any possible signs that the ancient leviathan might still be alive.

    Ten minutes that seemed far too long, more akin to several hours, passed before a towering shape did slowly rise from the depths of the water.

    Blood dripping from his hideous wounds, Godzilla stood up with a head hung low. Sheets of red poured from his nostrils and gills, his once proud stature now reduced to a broken imitation of its former self. The nuclear giant could not believe he was actually alive after such a powerful strike, but he did not know whether or not that would be the case for much longer. Once again, fate was a cruel adversary, and he would have to leave it to decide what happened next from here on out. His vision was blurry, his chest cavity ached savagely, his gills were torn and burnt to hell, his hearing was messy, even his legs still struggled to keep standing. Yet stand, he still did. Through his dazed ears he could just barely hear Rodan cackling at him in the distance, somewhere off at the beach. Was it a victory cry? Was it mockery? Was it a challenge? A threat? A warning to stay away? The ancient dinosaur did not know, nor did he care anymore. In his current state he couldn’t defeat the merciless mutant, and with that fact a part of him deep inside ached like never before. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he had lost a fight. More than likely not since his early youth days, back when giant beasts still stalked this land. When the world needed him, he had always answered its call, and he had always won.

    For the first time in millions of centuries, he had failed.

    Godzilla, his spirit dented by today’s battle, slowly began to turn away. He did not know har far he would make it before his strength faded, he did not know where he would end up, he did not know whether he would ever open his eyes and draw breath into his mighty form again after his eyes closed. Old age might just do him in this time, and if it did, Godzilla could only hope that another force in the world would take his place. All he could do now was journey as far as he could, and hope that fate would give him the strength to carry on like she had so many times over countless centuries of his existence. Only fate could decide.

    And as if on cruel, sadistic cue, she answered.

    Taking precise aim while standing at the beach, Rodan fired off a Uranium Heat Beam that didn’t miss its target-Godzilla’s left set of gills. As the beam continued to burn away, Godzilla, once the King of the Monsters, was too weak to block or move out of the way. With all the air left in his system, a loud roar 250 million years old vented from his gaping jaws, lasting a full eight seconds before, as all the control in his muscles numbed and his eyelids began to slide shut over the once proud orange orbs…

    The old Alpha Predator fell forward with a splash, his legendary spines slowly sinking beneath the surface until finally they submerged completely beneath the ocean blue.

    The King of the Monsters had disappeared.

    A deep rumble echoing from his beak, Rodan flapped his wings as he slowly lifted off the earth, turning back toward Mt. Fuji. The ghost city of Janjira was quiet once again, the animals slowly beginning to reemerge from their hiding places as the victorious Kaiju flew away, rising higher and higher until finally he perched atop the peak of Mt. Fuji, gazing proudly over the gorgeous landscape. The old power plant was miraculously undamaged during the battle, but Rodan paid it no heed. This land was now his new home, his new kingdom, his new territory. After the defeated predator had paid no heeds to his warnings to leave, he had felled it, and he would do so to any other trespasser that would dare to challenge him for his hard-earned home.

    Standing proudly over his dominion, Rodan released one last screech of triumph into the sky, letting the entire world know of his power and warning all who could hear it what would befall any others who challenged him for his new home. He would let the humans far away live out their lives on their side of the island, while he kept his. But if they decided to pay him a visit with the intention of toppling him, he wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest to put them in their place. Curling his wings forward, Rodan stepped into the center of the mountain as he nestled into an area soon to be his nesting ground. Today’s battle was a long and tiresome one, and he deserved a well-earned nap for its troubles. Laying his head down onto the cool snow and soft ashen earth, the Monster of the Skies slowly closed his eyes.

    This morning had been his right to earn his territory, but tomorrow, at first sunrise, he would see to another, very special objective.

    *****

    The defeat of Godzilla did not go unseen by the world. Citizens of Tokyo, Japan had glimpsed it far off in the distance, watching as his once godly form fell limply into the sea. Videos had been taken, satellite images and military video feeds captured, and thus the world reacted with shock and horror. Monarch was left astounded beyond belief. The occurrence was all over the news.

    No one knew for the fate of the nuclear titan. Did he live? Had he been slain? Until he was found, until he showed his face in the future, no one would ever know.

    Godzilla, King of the Monsters, had sunk below the vast depths of the very place of whence he came, vanished into the immeasurable abyss of the unknown.

    Possibly never, on the face of the earth, to be seen again.

    Winner: Rodan (Heisei)

    K.W.C. // September 10, 2020
  • Author: Andrew Sudomerski | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    [Continued from Match 304]

    Osaka, Japan – Several months after the destruction of Infant Island

    Rainbow beams seared into the asphalt as Mechagodzilla-2 dispatched of the JSDF’s artillery fire. Maser cannons and fighter jets were lost in a vast array of explosions, with many lives lost. Super Jikiro funneled its magnetic prowess through the blocky left hand, pulling in tanks and jeeps from the ground as they smashed into its hand. Those within were crushed by the tremendous pressure as more and more tanks and vehicles stacked into a tight metal sphere. As the field cleared of the JSDF’s weapons, aside from those destroyed by Mechagodzilla, Jikiro dropped the ball—which resounded with a loud thud upon impact. Humanity’s efforts were futile, for their forces had been spread thin. And with their enhanced upgrades endowed upon them since the destruction of Infant Island, humanity’s end would be inevitable.

    Meanwhile, as many fled for their lives, a group of youths stood behind in the midst of the rampant chaos. Stealing desks from within the vacant school, they coordinated their efforts to recreate an ancient symbol, one thought to have called upon divine provenance in times of despair. The more they dedicated themselves, the faster the arrangement manifested itself in the form of a cross that seemingly emitted what resembled holy light. Even with all the death and destruction that surrounded them, they persevered and had faith this insane-brained plan would work.

    Then Jikiro took notice.

    The Garoga automaton scanned the ancient symbol and the puny insects that remained by the formation of school desks. What a pointless endeavor this was! For Jikiro would display that there was no hope to cling to when the Earth would fall into their hands! Its curved tail shone with a brilliant yellow light, its Gatling gun coursing with electricity as it aimed at the sign and the children. However, amidst the blazing evening sun, a shadow draped over the war machine. Jikiro’s sensors took notice of this, but it was far too late to react. With bursting winds following behind, the moth-like silhouette rammed into the mechanical heavyweight—grappling her multi-jointed legs atop Jikiro’s upper section and dragged the inorganic menace across the ruined streets with her incredible feat of strength. At the last moment, as she put distance between the alien fiend and the group of innocents, she released her hold and let Jikiro collapse onto the ground. The divine lepidopteran swooped around until she faced the alien threat, showing her true self that followed with a chirp.

    The Mothra of the new millennium, protector of a new generation, and the heir of the olden Mothra!

    With a loaded charge on standby, Jikiro unleashed its jagged Magnetic Ray from the barrels of its right hand. Yet with grace and elegance, the new Mothra avoided the lightning strands with relative ease. Before Jikiro could fire again, Mothra dive-bombed the techno-behemoth and sent the giant tumbling into an abandoned structure, crumbling under its sheer weight. Jikiro shifted through the rubble and tried to get back on its feet, but hurricane gales sudden overcame the mechanical titan that kept it pressed down against the ground. While it did not budge, the alien robot could not find the stable support it needed to get back up from Mothra’s powerful winds. The moth goddess kept up the attack, pelting the downed machine with the loose debris kicked up by the windstorm of her making.

    The beautiful insect observed with her brilliant bulbous eyes and noticed the mechanized reptile concentrating on her with cold, lime green lenses. She abandoned Jikiro, narrowly avoiding the Space Beams that zipped past her. With a mechanical screech, Mechagodzilla shot another round of Space Beams at the angelic moth, which barely grazed her plated abdomen with a quick burst of sparks. She dove at the doppelganger, with wings outstretched and titled until she was sideways. Her wings dipped in between the space of the streets as she rushed past Mechagodzilla, tripping up the mechanical menace and dispersing an array of excess rubble from the violent gusts in her wake. The mechanoid reptile twisted his head, once again prepared to fire his Space Beams at the airborne moth. Before Mechagodzilla could fire, a spread of light bullets pelted at the guardian deity courtesy of Jikiro, and forced a pained shriek from the insect. Mechagodzilla didn’t let this chance go to waste as he fired another set of rainbow lasers, this time scoring a direct hit! Sparks and flames chipped at her armor as she elicited another agonizing screech. Although the youthful and vibrant Mothra kept her airlift, she knew this battle wasn’t going to be in her favor. Nevertheless, she had to fight—for the well being of the very planet she was born to protect!

    Scanning with calculating eyes, Mechagodzilla squatted before his sole thrusters roared to life. With a powerful bound, the mechanical reptile took flight with a trail of smoke left in his path. He stiffened and straightened out his body, which ran parallel to the ground and face pointed forward. With an extra push from the rockets on his feet and tail tip, Mechagodzilla used his Unisot as a rudder in flight mode. He promptly began to pursue the target with the directive to clean up their unfinished business.

    Mothra turned her head and noticed her pursuer closing the gap at an alarming rate. She banked a hard right, climbed into a nearby body of aerosol, and vanished from visible sight. As she broke through the other side, she was surprised that her mechanical foe performed the same stunt, almost like a mirror. Mechagodzilla unlocked his arms and brought them frontward, prepping them like blades. Both of them charged, ready to meet head-on.

    With a thunderous clang, Mothra and Mechagodzilla passed each other in a brilliant spark of light as jointed feet and stiff arms clashed. The two descended in wide-angled turns to meet face-to-face for a second time, dropping beneath the clouds, and again their bodies collided in a shower of sparks as they zoomed by. Then it seemed as if they were arranging for another strike, Mothra clapped her wings and vanished into the thick stratus cloud. The airborne menace was quick to pursue, turning at a sharp angle and tore into the thick sheet of water vapor.

    As the dark grey robot tried to scan for his target’s bio-metrics, he had difficulty sustaining flight within the cloud. The compressed water droplets and ice crystals incidentally paved way for troublesome turbulence. Little did he realize that Mothra, who also struggled with the thick vapor cloud, sidelined him from behind outside his visor’s peripheral. Grappling with her hooked claws onto the blunt spines that lined along Mechagodzilla’s back, Mothra pulled the mechanical menace, both of them spiraling through the fluffy sheet. With another tug, she steered down until they broke through the clouds—diving straight for the abandoned district of Osaka.

    As they fell, Mothra felt a powerful jerk from the reptilian machine. Before she knew it, she was being hauled alongside Mechagodzilla by an unseen force. And it didn’t take her long to deduce the perpetrator behind it. Her compound eyes took heed of Jikiro, with its blocky left hand outstretched and the right Gatling gun hand outlining circular motions. Pulling back, Mothra abandoned Mechagodzilla as she left him under Jikiro’s magnetic influence. Then with a loud clang, Jikiro caught its mechanized ally and gently placed him back on his two feet.

    Detaching from the blocky hand, both of them directed their attention to the moth guardian. Jikiro’s tail flashed and fired another Magnetic Ray as Mechagodzilla assisted with a round of rainbow-colored lasers. Mothra was quick, but not perfect. Torrential energy fire grazed and seared against her as she tried to close the distance. The scales suppressed the lethal damage when the projectiles singed her wings, but that did not stop their onslaught. As Mothra got closer, Mechagodzilla ceased firing and sat on his legs, supported by the tail, with the kneecaps aimed at the airborne target. In a burst, high pressure Homyu shells propelled out of his kneecaps and buried into the outermost layer of Mothra’s thorax. She elicited a cry as the shells drew blood, which evolved into a hideous shriek as the delayed explosion kicked in. The brief paralysis from the explosion gave the automatons the opportunity to unleash their payload on the guardian. Unable to resist the assault, Mothra was forced onto the asphalt and left at the invaders’ mercy.

    Plumage of combustion and smoke rose from the many explosive shockwaves and fireballs that engulfed the fallen goddess. Not even a minute passed before all fell silent. Steam hissed from Mechagodzilla’s fingertips as his internal missile chamber replaced them with the new, more powerful revolver missiles. Jikiro’s four-pronged barrels sizzled with electricity, with the Magnetic Terror-Beast shrieking with delight. Mechagodzilla’s lime green eyes flashed with what would be considered anticipation as he set his fingers to finally obliterate their target.

    Mothra would perish, and the world would lose hope.

    Suddenly, their vision was compromised by silky string raining from the sky. The adhesive clung onto their metal frames, slowly building into thicker layers of webbing as the spray rained down on them. Jikiro flailed wildly, only to entangle itself more in the white mesh. Mechagodzilla kept his body movement restrained, only twisting his head to locate the source. Activity was detected, and the webbing had suddenly ceased, but there was no visible target in sight. With the buildings that stood in his way, the robot double of Godzilla could not get a fix on the target. Something he was quick to fix.

    A quick tug and the chest compartment flipped open, tearing the silky strings attached to the upper torso with relative ease. Orange lightning flew from the glass bulb and effortlessly tore through the obstructions in front of him. As the structures crumbled and the dust settled, Mechagodzilla finally saw the target that dared interfere.

    Its long, segmented, brown body called to mind a worm or a caterpillar, with a pair of soft blue beads for eyes attached to its face. Its muzzle twitched with uncertainty, as if it hadn’t anticipated in being found so quickly. The wormy creature released a quiet chirp, only to be promptly blasted by the orange bolt. As the durable larva was flung across the cityscape, Mechagodzilla moved toward his new target in slow strides. Their end would be inevitable.

    For Jikiro, the webbing may have stopped, but the machine had been wrapped to the point of near immobility. While the automaton’s oddball physical structure ensured limited sight, as its head was located on the upper torso region, the net still proved problematic for its primary arsenal. Try as it might, the mighty war machine flailed about aimlessly. That was until a sharp pain in its synthetic circuitry alerted it of a hostile on the tip of its rounded tail. Jikiro could feel the extra weight that held its bulky, robotic tail down. Although it could still yank it around, it proved to be incredibly cumbersome to manage.

    With muffled squeaks, the young Larva clung to the curved tail, fueled by determination. For every time Jikiro heaved its stunted tail, the Mothra Larva felt the brute force of being slammed against the pavement. Nevertheless, her resolve outweighed the pain that wracked her small body. However, despite being repeatedly smashed into the ground, it would not last forever. Electricity surged from the generator stored in Jikiro’s tail, shocking the mouth of the young Larva and finally forced her to release her bite. As the brown worm retreated into the abandoned streets, the mechanical giant tore through the web casing with a series of crooked bolts, which eventually freed Jikiro from its bind. It shook off the last of the sticky substance before turning to locate the intruder. Switching gears, Jikiro pointed its Gatling gun and fired several rounds of missiles, tearing through the structures to locate the target.

    Buildings crumbled under the Terror-Beast’s missile barrage. Meanwhile, Jikiro pulled the metal framework into its blocky left hand, clearing the area from as much debris as possible. The more it pressed on, the greater the dust cloud became. Jikiro knew it would find it sooner than later; but what it didn’t expect was what came next. From the dusty clouds, the segmented worm leapt directly for Jikiro’s face! Her mandibles clamped into the machine’s blocky, rectangular mouth, holding on with everything she could muster. All the while, the Magnetic Terror-Beast thrashed about in a panic, trying to shove the small creature off it.

    High pressure rounds bore into the worm-like insect as Mechagodzilla’s toes reloaded for the next round. The spinning missiles tore the exoskeleton and detonated, splitting the Larva’s natural armor with puss and yellow goop. The young Mothra shrieked from the excruciating agony, flopping over from the concussive aftershock. Her distress fell on deaf ears as Mechagodzilla loomed over her. Not a sound uttered from the machine other than the click, signifying that he reloaded.

    Suddenly, a mighty and powerful cry alerted the ruthless automaton of his original objective. With nothing more than a simple twist of the head, Mechagodzilla’s green lenses locked onto the adult Mothra, who beelined straight for him. In a moment’s notice, the homing missiles burst from his toes, eliciting an anguished screech from the baby Mothra. This only provoked the mother Mothra even more as she cried out for her child. The closer she got, the more Mechagodzilla silently prepared his next attack. Instantaneously, high-powered explosive charges erupted from the ports in a wild stream of flames. With a clap of her wings, Mothra elevated above the searing fire, barely avoiding Mechagodzilla’s surprise attack. Though its range was limited, the stoic weapon continued to pour ammunition into the Desto-Fire, rotating his head and tilting his body to keep track of the moth deity’s path.

    Enough was enough for Jikiro as it focused its concentration by pelting the infant worm with a barrage of light bullets. Plasma energies rained down on the Mothra Larva with a cavalcade of explosive sparks. Unable to brute force the pain, the youngling found herself releasing her mouthy grip and dropping to the ground. Without a second to waste, the mighty Garoga machine delivered a solid kick, hurling the brown caterpillar into the nearby Umeda Sky Building. With a jerky tug from its left hand, the magnetic influence pressured the metal framework to collapse in on itself, burying the Mothra Larva under thousands of tons of glass and metal, crushing her. Satisfied, Jikiro went ahead to assist his robotic ally against the true threat.

    Mechagodzilla ceased discharge when his head clicked back into place, prioritizing from the maimed larva to the adult. As the heat had melted the webbing away, Mechagodzilla was granted his mobility, turning his body and firing Space Beams at the Earth guardian. Elegantly, she evaded the rainbow lasers and dove in headfirst. In truth, rage coursed through her body. But now wasn’t the time, she couldn’t lose sight of the important responsibility she had to uphold, for her mother’s sake, for her family.

    Mechagodzilla’s stiff hands rotated, re-calibrating the revolver missiles he had yet to employ. The very weapon he had intended to finish off Mothra with would still fulfill their purpose. Both sets of fingers aimed and fired, converging on their primary target. A master of maneuverability and swiftness, Mothra zoomed past the lethal weapons and allowed them to slip by, not landing a scratch on her. The flames that propelled the revolver missiles fizzled out and began to fall in an arc. She accelerated and rammed her entire body mass into Mechagodzilla’s torso, relentlessly throwing the machine to the ground. Damages were sustained in its armored plating, dented from the extreme force applied. Mechagodzilla rose to his feet, undeterred from seeing this through to the end. Both locked eyes, examining each other closely to see who would pull the trigger.

    The wait wasn’t long.

    Mothra suddenly felt an explosive force against her back. Her chitin chipped away from the blast as her fur caught aflame. But it wasn’t done with her yet. Another round of the revolver missiles bombarded her, and more soon followed. Each repetitive strike whittled away the posterior of her natural armor, and each time eliciting a more agonizing shriek than the last. Once again, she found herself unable to sustain airborne flight as she was forced to the ground. While she tried to kick up winds to dampen the flames on her back, the metallic roar that came from behind informed Mothra all she needed to know.

    Jikiro’s Gatling gun hissed with steam as the automaton clanked its two asymmetrical arms together. For Jikiro had used its magnetic influence to pull the revolver missiles to itself, sucking them into the crease of the blocky left hand and out the barrels of its right hand. Jikiro screeched with devilish glee, eager to finally see all this come to an end. Mechagodzilla’s stoic demeanor expressed nothing, only an artificial will to seek and destroy. Both aimed their artillery hands at the fallen Mothra, only to once again find their visions compromised with silky web.

    The Magnetic Terror-Beast muttered and agitated cry. It knew in that moment the Larva it thought it had dispatched was still alive and kicking. Frustrated at their persistence, Jikiro prepared a Magnetic Ray, signaled by a flash from the tail, and turned to face the juvenile Mothra. As it threw the four-pronged barrels in front of itself, it discharged a streak of electric currents. At the last second, the segmented insect leapt over the beam, projecting to bite on Jikiro’s boxy head again. However, the mechanical giant swatted the bug with the blocky hand, ensuring the same tactic wouldn’t work twice.

    The Mothra Larva knew she had to fight against the mechanical reptile, even if she had already sustained lethal injuries from the inorganic imposter. She knew her sister was fighting to protect their mother, much like she was. Each second, she felt her life energy drain away the more she bled out. But her youthful, determinable will would not break as she continuously spat out a long string of silk. Even as Mechagodzilla discharged explosive flames from the nose ports to counter her web, she saw her mother in the distance. Her back was still aflame, bodily fluids leaked from Jikiro’s attack. Their eyes locked, and they recalled the warmth and love of home… She witnessed her mother scurry on her legs, crumpling buildings under her fluttering wings to take flight. Her desperate plea evolved into lamenting shrills, begging Mechagodzilla to stop.

    The Larva felt nauseous, her head spun around from excessive blood loss. She remained steadfast, even as her webbing vanished amidst Mechagodzilla’s lethal Desto-Fire. Her body was pressed down by her withering state; her blue eyes flickered in an attempt to persevere. Yet she knew what waited for her at the end. With his right hand, Mechagodzilla aimed his newly loaded revolver missiles at the grievously injured caterpillar.

    Her mother screamed, accelerating as much as she could.

    A simple rotation of the wrist, Mechagodzilla’s lime green eyes flashed.

    Click.

    Time slowed for the adult Mothra. She felt the gap between them widen tremendously, everything coming to an abrupt crawl. A sudden rush of memories of the recent-past came flooding in; how she migrated her people from the decimated Infant Island to the Bonin Islands, her rebirth into adulthood, the day she laid her egg and had twins, nurtured them to be strong Mothras for the next generation, how she promised to avenge those who had fallen before her… All that led to this very moment. With one final cry, she beseeched the metallic reptile to spare her child.

    Mechagodzilla gave no response.

    Her world shattered with a cacophonous boom. Sickening dread overwhelmed the imago Mothra as she saw the plume of explosive flames blossomed—and with it, chunks of brown chitin, yellow goop, and the ravaged body of her offspring, devoid of life. Her heart fell into the pits of despair, unable to process the reality that reflected off the sheen of her bulbous, compound eyes. She choked on her mourning cries, and golden glitter leaked from the tips of her majestic wings. Yet there was little time to grieve as her gentle blue eyes swirled into crimson wrath. She pushed her body and beelined directly for Mechagodzilla, who was already turning around to meet Mothra face to face. A trail of golden scales trickled from her wings, determined to exact her revenge upon her child’s killer.

    Mechagodzilla barely had the chance to react as Mothra recklessly slammed her entire mass against his space titanium plating. The mechanical imposter tripped back, with a noticeable dent engraved in his upper chest. Mechagodzilla scanned the purple sky, whose sunlight had already dimmed beyond the horizon, only to find a set of angry red eyes peering into his artificial soul. The moth-shaped form descended upon him, her loose scales clung on his extraterrestrial armor. Vicious swipes from her talons scarred Mechagodzilla’s snout with sparks and scraping of the metal. From the metallic menace’s perspective, an electronic interference muffled with his directory, unable to properly access the weapons stored in his head region. So, he improvised.

    With a subtle click, the hatch on his chest opened, prepared to use the Cross Attack Beam. But Mothra was quick to the draw, pulling her abdomen and shoved her blunt stinger into chest compartment, which housed the reddish bulb. Under its weight, Mothra grinded the weapon into dust, and even so continued to jab and dent Mechagodzilla’s armor with her incredible physical prowess. The machine’s control system went haywire, and shortly went limp thereafter. Lime green eyes faded, but even so, Mothra vented her sorrowful rage by raking the cybernetic corpse with her claws, dislocating the lower jaw and shredding the torso’s outer layer, only to reveal the inner circuitry… That was until she heard her other child’s cry. Abandoning the scrap heap, Mothra’s crimson eyes narrowed on Jikiro, the last of the invaders that had brought harm to her family.

    Another brutal kick hurled the second larva into a row of buildings, bringing them down under her weight. As the Mothra Larva chirped in anguish, she heard the clanging of Jikiro’s footfalls coming ever closer. The abnormal automaton cheered with a synthetic screech, holding out the blocky left hand. Magnetic waves stretched beyond to the distant horizon nearly three miles away. Courtesy of its enhancements, it tugged at the outlying Tsutenkaku’s shimmering red hue against the waning twilight. The magnetic force rocked the steel tower, which leaned over from the tremendous strain that influenced it. Then, not by its own volition, Tsutenkaku was pulled from its foundation and plowed through many buildings without any signs of stopping. Jikiro’s powerful magnet trembled from the force applied, but continued nonetheless. In less than a minute, the 103-meter tall tower found itself affixed to the blocky hand with a resounding shockwave, one that the Mothra Larva could feel the breeze of.

    For a moment, the Terror-Beast pulled its arm back and heaved the metal tower down like a sledgehammer. With quick thinking and intuition, the young Mothra rolled out of harm’s way, letting the structure slam into the asphalt with a destructive blast of wind and shrapnel. Even though she dodged it, the mere aftershock was enough to send the segmented worm crashing into another set of buildings nearby. Tsutenkaku’s reinforced steel frame had creaked and contorted, but Jikiro still had a use for it. Before it could try again, the Terror-Beast heard the angry shrills of a wrathful punisher from behind, diverting its attention. Jikiro saw the imago’s form plastered against a darkened sky, her eyes brimming with crimson hate. With an eerie war cry, Mothra dove down toward Jikiro, leaking a stream of gold scales in her wake.

    The Magnetic Terror-Beast knew she was out of range to use the Tsutenkaku against her, so it accommodated with a brilliant, yellow flash from its curled tail. Aiming its Gatling gun, a wild burst of electrical fury surged from the four-pronged tips and zoomed toward the moth deity. Much like in the past, Mothra’s reflexes saved her from a direct hit, only grazing her armored chitin. The rest of the lightning blast came into contact with the glittery trail left behind, resulting in a fantastic and blinding series of explosions, a reaction unlike the previous Mothra that Jikiro recalled fighting.

    Mothra continued her straightforward track, even when that put her in range of Jikiro’s new toy. The machine prepared an overhand, noticing that the divine moth made no effort to stray from her path. Before it could bring the full brunt of the tower onto the guardian, Mothra’s wings caught wind which dragged her to a stop, where she then followed up with a clap that dispersed a golden dust cloud. Golden scales swarmed the Garoga invader, searing into the machine’s armor plating. Perpetuated by the ensemble of Mothra’s divine wrath, Jikiro struggled to maintain footing. It wasn’t just a byproduct of the pain they brought; the Terror-Beast could detect several vital mechanisms within its body short circuiting, losing control over its functionality. It tried to bring up the Gatling gun, only for the spark within its tail-generator to die off; the magnetism that held the broken Tsutenkaku diminished, dropping the large structure to its side; and finally, Jikiro could feel itself collapse under its own weight as its eyes darkened. Even after the Magnetic Terror-Beast went limp, Mothra continued to pelt the mechanical monstrosity out of sheer rage.

    A small chirp beckoned the adult Mothra’s attention. She cocked her head and saw her child. The pace of her flaps slowed as the scales that left her wings diminished, leaving only a lingering cloud over Jikiro’s fallen body. Her wrathful red eyes vanquished as they returned to their gentle blue, filled with sadness and regret. The mother Mothra slowly descended to the ground, unable to maintain air buoyancy from the guilt she carried in her heart. The Mothra Larva crawled up and rubbed her nuzzle against her mother’s. Both of them cried and mourned, filling the air with sorrow.

    Mothra’s mission blinded her from what it meant to be a Mothra. To avenge was not the code of ethic, but to protect. Yet her pride got to her, and such a grievous mistake came at a cost. Ever since her birth, that arrogance seeped into her subconscious, even as she carried out her duty to the outside world. And it was one she hoped never to repeat again, for the sake of her last child and the generations that followed.

    The Larva noticed imminent danger out of the corner of her eye and warned her mother with a high-pitched squeal. The imago Mothra didn’t hesitate for a second, raising her body off the ground to cover her child from what came next. The scales that remained suddenly combusted into a fiery plume, one that the mother Mothra took the full brunt of, consumed by flames.

    Off in the distance, mechanical eyes glared at the billowing fire with indifference. Green lenses saw the remains of his former ally shatter into scattered limbs and pieces of armored shrapnel. But Mechagodzilla felt nothing of it; Jikiro was no longer a benefit to the cause. If it ensured the destruction of the Mothra lineage, then that would be more than enough. With a quick shot of Space Beams, Mechagodzilla had already set the golden cloud aflame… But the machine had calculative doubts that that was the true end of the Mothras. His eyes scanned his hands, detecting the particles leftover from Mothra’s rage-induced assault. They possessed reflective properties that induced powerful explosions, unlike that of the previous Mothra they had fought at Infant Island. Mechagodzilla tried to rotate his wrists, only for grinding screeches like nails on a chalkboard to emanate from the wrist joints as they struggled to spin efficiently. While his whole body had been peppered by the golden scales, his hands took most of the scales and left his arms virtually inoperable. Fortunately for the Simian mech, he didn’t need his arms for what he was about to do next.

    Even though the base of his head initially creaked, it didn’t take long for his spinning head to break into place. Faster and faster, his head rotated until he dispatched cyan energy from his eyes, which enveloped him in a cylindrical barrier. Now it was a matter of waiting out to see if the two remaining Mothras survived or not…

    Mechagodzilla’s spinning head came to a steady halt as the energized barrier became fully reinforced. Scanners observed the ruined city, more importantly the gigantic fireball where the Mothras were, to see if there were bio-signatures to be found. While it wasn’t immediately obvious at first, Mechagodzilla detected an immense spike of energy near the heart of the explosion.

    Flames and smoke warped as a fiery body flew out of the blast. The imago Mothra, encased in a body of fire, shrieked one final war cry; she was prepared to finish this ordeal once and for all. Mechagodzilla had anticipated as much, but was ready to bring it all to an end. In the span of a few seconds, the flaming Mothra closed the gap.

    Then, the moment of impact.

    Burning red fire and brilliant cyan energies clashed against each other, sparking in a beautiful cavalcade of conflicting sparkles. Mothra’s body warped the permeable barrier, inching ever closer to Mechagodzilla’s body. Yet even with the fire coat, it did not suppress all the damage; the harder she pushed, the more she lost her outer shell and wings in a burst of smoke and vapor. She inched ever closer to his metal torso…

    Unable to endure it for any longer, the flaming Mothra bounced back from the incredible force of the barrier, shedding her fiery fleece as she crashed onto the ruined city of Osaka. Her child rushed to her side, nudging her war-torn visage to wake up. Her eyes were dimming, which made the child anxious. The Larva took a glance at the mechanical threat that loomed ahead of them, dreadfully anticipating having to fight the robotic behemoth.

    Much to her surprise, turned out there wasn’t a need to.

    The Larva saw a cascade of sparks reacting from within Mechagodzilla’s protective casing. This led to a series of chain reactions, as one explosive scale ignited the next. For Mechagodzilla, the barrier became an inescapable prison, a coffin that cemented his fate. As more of the scales reacted, the more Mechagodzilla was consumed in a mammoth explosion. The cylindrical barrier warped and expanded, trying to contain the blast, and illuminated in a bright white light. But it was unable to contain all the energy within and popped from all the power. A flood of fire and shockwaves overtook the two Mothras and flung from away as the rest of the explosion manifested in a mushroom-shaped cloud. Soon enough, the thunderous roar of the blast quieted and left a raging fire in its wake. From the sky, shredded and charred pieces of Mechagodzilla rained down, marking the end of his reign of terror.

    The Larva awoke from the unconscious and scanned her surroundings, having been separated from her mother during the explosion. She quickly found her in the outermost ring and rushed to her side. Much to her dismay, she remained unmoving. Her head and wings were shells of what they once were just moments ago. The Larva pleaded to the natural forces of the world not to take her mother away as well. To lose all she cherished was too heavy of a burden on her mortal soul…

    The husk began to move. Dimmed eyes ignited in a brilliant blue light, reinvigorated with fresh life energy. The Larva squealed with a joyful surge as the mother cooed her child in assurance. Even with her damaged wings, the adult Mothra was still flight capable as she pushed herself off the ground. The two scoured the ruined Osaka until they found the last knot that needed to be tied before departing. They found the broken and mangled body of the fallen Mothra Larva, and now finally had the time to grieve. Mournful wails echoed across the battle-torn field, and those that heard it from a distance felt a deep-rooted sadness that accompanied it.

    Hours passed, with the scenery influenced by the midnight darkness and the soft glow of moonlight. The raging fire that had once burned died down as well. As their grieving session came to a close, the living Larva sprayed a silken web over her sister’s corpse, encasing it in a cocoon. The mother Mothra had her strength restored and grabbed hold of her child with her spindly legs. With several, successive flaps of her wings, her and the Larva took off into the starry sky, returning to their new home at the Bonin Islands—where their people awaited them.

    Before the flock of people would gather around in the morning to pay their respects, a messenger manifested from the sky. The minuscule, green-eyed moth gently landed atop the silken sarcophagus, cooing gently to the soul within. It was time to leave. The Fairy Mothra chirped as she lifted off, towing her grandchild’s soul with her into a world beyond the mortal coil, where they both could finally rest in peace.

    Winner: Mothra (Millennium)

    K.W.C. // September 1, 2020
  • Author: Andrew Sudomerski | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    [Continued from Match 267]

    Infant Island

    Fight until the bitter end.

    That was what Mothra thought as she evaded the merciless barrage from the mechanical invaders. It was more than just for herself; this sacred land was her home, her priestesses and worshippers were family, and most importantly was the egg she had fought so rigorously to protect. Even in her injured state, with a slashed wing and missing a leg from her encounter with Zilla, she flew with grace and elegance over the surface, then proceeded to clap her wings to gain elevation over the hundreds of missiles and light bullets.

    Mechagodzilla remained stationary as endless finger missiles and shells burst from his fingertips, kneecaps, toes, neck, and mouth. Even if they missed Mothra, Mechagodzilla and his mechanical ally were here not just for the destruction of Mothra, but the demise of Infant Island. Thus, it was of no loss when the missiles missed their primary target. Fortunately for Mechagodzilla, Jikiro had his back. The Magnetic Terror-Beast kept aim with its right hand, a Gatling gun, which fired a spray of yellow bullets. The projectiles burst into sparks upon striking the Earth spirit’s fluffy thorax, which compelled her to cry out. Even so, the injury did not deter her.

    As she closed the gap between her and her adversaries, Mothra fired twin orange beams from her antennae. Both individually blasted the robotic titans, which distracted Jikiro and simply made Mechagodzilla ceasefire. The lepidopteran deity flew over the mechanical duo and dragged a powerful gale in her wake. Jikiro simply anchored itself with its immense weight. Mechagodzilla stumbled back, but not before rotating his head 180 degrees. Red, calculating lenses projected Mothra’s distance relative to his own and fired a pair of Space Beams at her. The rainbow-colored lasers found their mark on her underbelly, eliciting a shriek from the moth goddess.

    She maintained lift and banked a hard right, curving around to meet with her enemies once again. Mothra prepared her next strike in the form of glittery scales from her wings. Both Mechagodzilla and Jikiro stood their ground, but were quickly overwhelmed with her divinity. Golden powder-like scales washed over the mechanical fiends and scorched into their metal armor. The Godzilla doppelganger was quick to react as his head spun in place and generated a cyan cylinder from his eyes, which wrapped around his form. The small specks of light were neutralized, but there was nothing Mechagodzilla could do but wait. Jikiro, on the other hand, had no such luck. It tried to fire its light bullets, but the buffer layer dispersed the energy into jagged strings, which redirected back at Jikiro with searing pain. The Magnetic Terror-Beast tried again, this time indicated by a burst of light from its tail, as it fired a concentrated Magnetic Ray at Mothra. To no avail, as the diffused electrical energy bounced about in the golden cloud and returned to its sender in full force.

    Energy wasn’t doing the trick, so Jikiro had to depend on old reliable. Shifting gears within its Gatling gun, Jikiro changed its ammunition. As it aimed its Gatling gun once more, Jikiro uttered a pained shriek with the continual burns seared into its body. With rapid succession, missiles shot out from the barrels, ripping through the golden cloud and embedded themselves into their target. Mothra’s shrill resounded across the battlefield as she was sent hurtling back, throwing her from the air to the ground accompanied by burning flames and shrapnel. Even if the scales left Jikiro weary, the war machine did not ceasefire until the particles faded from sight. When they did, Jikiro collapsed onto its knees and blocky left hand, still sizzling and barely keeping it together.

    The Earth spirit was burdened by the wounds she sustained, but even worse was that she had fallen onto her back. She fluttered her wings wildly, kicking up a dust storm, each beat straining her body. But her bulbous, bright blue eyes informed her that she wasn’t going to make it. For she saw the cyan cylinder dissipated from the false Godzilla, who shifted into attack mode. Mechagodzilla’s chest compartment flipped opened, then all hell broke loose. Rainbow lasers, orange electric currents, yellow atomic flames, and space titanium-infused artillery fire poured from the mechanical behemoth, overwhelming the Infant Island deity in a blaze of relentless pain and agony. Any of Mothra’s anguished screeches were lost in the deafening booms that surrounded her.

    Thick black smoke and heavy dust obscured the moth guardian’s being, but that did not stop Mechagodzilla’s onslaught. Although Jikiro could barely hear their opponent’s banshee wails, there were points where Mothra’s shrieks overpowered even that of the explosions—a direct hit! However, even Mechagodzilla came to a ceasefire, for the plumage was too immense to guarantee a solid shot. The automatons scanned and waited for any signs of life…

    Mechagodzilla’s lenses caught an energy reading. It was a miniscule ball of light particles that danced around the mechanical behemoth’s eyes. Scanners identified it as a moth, no more than 30 centimeters in wingspan. Had this been a normal animal, there would have been no reason to hesitate. But it wasn’t. The energy spike it produced told Mechagodzilla otherwise. The tiny blue-eyed, bright yellow-bodied moth squeaked, as if warning him. Jikiro, even in its weakened state, also scanned the entity with curiosity; that was until the Terror-Beast peered over the dust cloud. With wild screeches, Jikiro alerted Mechagodzilla of the threat that loomed.

    An anomalous holy light brimmed from where their target laid, and what came forth was nothing short of breathtaking. Numerous moths, far too many to individually account for. They were similar to the yellow-bodied one, their population blotted the sunlight with what may have been tens of thousands of tiny shadows.

    The smoke cleared away and revealed the grievously injured Mothra, charred, bleeding, and missing an eye, but her wings lustrous and bright. Hundreds upon thousands of minute replicas manifested from tattered wings, swarming their benevolent creator. With a loud chirping war cry, Mothra issued the attack!

    In an instant, all the yellow-bodied Fairy Mothras dove straight at the two mechanical giants, pelting them with their antenna lasers. Individually, one Fairy didn’t do much; but as a collective, they singed the armor that protected their circuitry. The swarm fluttered around the behemoths, throwing off their trajectory. That was until Mothra commanded them to disperse, in which she unloaded her antennae lasers unto the alien invaders. Both of them stumbled and collapsed into one another.

    Not wasting a second, she flew directly at Mechagodzilla! With her enormous mass, she rammed into Mechagodzilla’s upper torso and latched her miniscule legs onto his frame. Without a second thought, energy funneled through her claws as she pumped Mechagodzilla full of her divine wrath. The metal doppelganger of the Monster King jittered and spastically twitched uncontrollably as retribution coursed through his circuitry, frying them. Mothra continued her ruthless assault by discharging lightning from her wings, pelting the space titanium alloy until it was charred black.

    The downed Jikiro was pelted by the armada, but it carried out its orders by swiping and blasting the miniature Mothras into a flurry of golden powder. Light bullets scattered their energized carcasses, whilst magnetism pulled the minerals within the large boulders onto its magnetic hand, crushing the Fairy Mothras under its weight. The Garoga automaton switched gears and pulsated light from its tail, signaling a destructive discharge. A crooked bolt of lightning swathed the Fairy Mothras, incinerating their bodies down to atoms. It eased the load, but the army of moths continued valiantly with their given mission.

    Even though Jikiro was weakened, the Garoga machine would not lie down and wait. Pushing itself to its feet and shaking off the laser fire, Jikiro’s tail pulsated with yellow light. Channeling its electric prowess, the automaton fired its Magnetic Ray at the adult Mothra, searing into her body as it shoved her off of Mechagodzilla. Her thorax oozed with grotesque puss, resulted from the attack delivered by Jikiro.

    Even though he was saved by his ally, Mechagodzilla collapsed onto the ground, unable to operate its motor functions due to the damage inflicted on the Cybanek. The robot monster was left helpless, but Jikiro set out to complete what they were both here for; the destruction of Mothra and Infant Island. Try as he might, however, Jikiro couldn’t land a solid blow against the wounded veteran, each wave of light bullets only striking empty air as she maneuvered out of the way.

    Higher and higher, the winged moth elevated into the sunlit sky, out of Jikiro’s line of fire. She beckoned her armada, and they complied with no hesitation. Immediately, they disengaged their targets and offered themselves to their maker, shining in brilliant spores. The more that merged with her, the more intense Mothra became as she was encased in a golden hue. She began to circle around, leaving a glittery trail in her wake.

    Jikiro panicked, kicking his downed ally in an effort to get him back up. From the heat produced by Mothra’s assault, Mechagodzilla’s nostrils exhaled steam as a coolant. His flaring crimson eyes glared at his partner, at least until he heeded what Jikiro had to say. He detected a considerable spike of energy produced from their primary target. This was a danger for the both of them, and there were two immediate options at his disposal.

    Mothra’s output of power informed Mechagodzilla’s decision making in taking the best course of action. His neck creaked from the scarred metal, but continued to swirl all the same. Faster and faster his head rotated, then deployed cyan energy from his eyes to construct the cylindrical barrier around his body. If this was the guardian’s last hurrah, then perhaps it was best to wait her out…

    Jikiro pondered, leaving the stake of its artificial life in its own hands. Mechagodzilla was prepared to take the blow, and the divine moth nearly completed the inevitable spell she would cast. He had to think of something quick, or risk the slim chance of survival on luck… no, the machine refused to bow to such improbable odds. If it were to fulfill the execution of its orders, it would do so by its own ingenuity. It was then that an idea came to the machine. There were no other options to work with, not with more time. There were only seconds to spare—time it was unsure would be enough, but had to try nonetheless.

    Pointing its blocky left arm to the sky, Jikiro twisted the magnets by a simple rotation of its wrists, and then circled its Gatling gun arm around as many times it could humanely do. Air was displaced by the force of his spinning arm, which strengthened its magnetic influence. Jikiro’s magnets discharged an inverse magnetic polarization; rather than attract, it would repel metal and disperse energy under the magnetic field it produced. But would it be enough to protect itself from what came next? This was Jikiro’s only shot.

    A golden ring clamped together as the holy moth continued to forge the seal’s power. Within the empty space, the Symbol of Mothra manifested and illuminated ever so brightly. With a simple command, it made its descent with a massive boom.

    Then, it struck.

    A thunderous cavalcade resonated across the land as the last of Mothra’s might seared itself into the earth. Massive shockwaves spread through the foliage and broken rock. Even the natives had to hold onto whatever remained steadfast in the destructive wake. Jikiro’s magnetic waves dispelled some of the energy, casting it aside as the Earth does with the sun’s gamma rays. Even so, it wasn’t enough to completely withstand it, as the heat it produced melted its armor and pushed it further into the earth. Mechagodzilla only fared slightly better. The overwhelming energy warped the cylindrical shield from the immense force. So much so that even the mechanical menace dropped to one knee from the pressure being applied. Only a few seconds passed before the two were engulfed in a purifying light.

    Like the sun, the Symbol of Mothra cast its light upon the darkness, signaling a chance for hope and prosperity. Just as quickly as it appeared, it faded. Scorched land was imprinted with the symbol, a sign of her divine power. The elder Mothra flew in to inspect the damages—to see if the invaders were still standing.

    As she glided over, she saw the remnants of her foes. Mechagodzilla had collapsed onto his chest, whilst Jikiro was partially buried under scorched earth, with the rocks already like molten slag. It had seemed both were finally stopped, at long last. Nevertheless, Mothra continued her investigation and found herself hovering above Mechagodzilla’s carcass.

    It was then the lifeless head creaked, twisting his head to meet Mothra eye to eye. Red lenses flared to life as the wicked machine fire a pair of rainbow lasers at point blank! The Infant Island goddess was flung back from the surprise attack, failing to even register the loss of her two front legs. As Mothra crashed, Mechagodzilla rose to his feet and reoriented himself. Meanwhile, Jikiro’s tomb began to vibrate.

    With a theatrical display, the melted mineral crater exploded, revealing Jikiro in moderate condition. Swirling heat dispersed into the daylight sky, with only noticeable deformation in Jikiro’s armor. However, its left hand was lost, destroyed by the seal. So instead, Jikiro improvised with a sudden charge of electricity.

    Mothra had nothing left to defend herself with. All of it had been expended in the fight, leaving her nothing left to hold onto… Except for hope for the future. One she knew she would not live to see. The mechanical duo shook the broken earth with every step they took, prepared to finish what they came here to do.

    Jikiro approached her first, holding the Gatling gun out and spraying the fallen goddess with an electric burst. Disgusting crunches echoed as the energy tore through Mothra’s natural armor. Her cries resounded to all who could hear as she squirmed in absolute agony. The mechanical replica of Godzilla, meanwhile, prepared to unload all of his firepower. Jikiro backed off and allowed his Simian ally to eviscerate the corpse in a spectacular display. Her final cry was cut short as rainbow lasers, orange lightning, and many missiles and shells tore Mothra asunder, scattering her remains across this very island she was designed to protect. Now there was nothing that would stand in their way from accomplishing their goals.

    The Magnetic Terror-Beast took heed of the fleeing natives and gifted them with a spread of light bullets from the right hand. They were incinerated in an instant. The light bullets evolved into a stream of electricity, eviscerating the flora, fauna, and villages that dwelled in the foliage. Mechagodzilla proceeded to assist his partner by carving the island with his Space Beams and Cross Attack Beam, utterly laying waste to the island until it became nothing more than smoldering ruins.

    It was then that they noticed the mountainside Mothra had fought so rigorously to protect. They had to ensure that nothing could come from this. Both machines aimed their weaponry at the mountain itself, blasting it to kingdom come. The tumbling rocks further layered on top of Mothra’s domain, cementing the fate of Infant Island.

    The bright sky turned pitch black from the rolling smoke, only the flames served as a dark marker in history. Their masters were content and were ordered to return to headquarters. Mechagodzilla’s soles roared to life as he took off by rocket boosters. Jikiro, however, had to do it the manual way by taking a dip into the water. The Magnetic Terror-Beast followed the fiery trail left behind Mechagodzilla’s wake. Soon enough, after the raging fires had extinguished, all fell silent.

    Days passed, as those who were in the temple grounds of Mothra’s cavern were the only survivors from the merciless genocide, which only amounted to fifty individuals accounted for. They prayed fervently to the lone egg that stood perched among the rubble from the collapsed mountain. Even with the few they had, they performed ceremonial dances for the divine protection of their beloved moth god. The Cosmos sung the song of the Earth, clinging to hope for the future while wracked with grief.

    And an answer was delivered.

    The egg began to flash in a brilliant spectacle. All who worshipped fell back at its sight, even the twin priestesses. The shell cracked, and what emerged was her long awaited successor. The young larva screeched as she took her first breath in her life, defiant to let this be the end of the Mothra lineage and the wonderful wisdom of Infant Island. As she quieted down, the larva gazed upon her people, sensing the dread they all faced. She assured them with gentle chirps, that she would avenge her mother and those that defiled Infant Island’s beauty, for she was their last hope.

    Winner: Mechagodzilla (Showa), Jikiro

    K.W.C. // August 21, 2020