K.W.C.

  • Author: Harley Jameson | Banner: Christian Gonzalez

    Emiko still hadn’t sorted through all of her father’s old things yet. It had been a few years since he had died and even though his will stated that she and she alone got to keep his possessions, she didn’t have the heart to go through them just yet. It somehow felt like she was disrespecting his memory.

    With Ogata off at work though, she normally had the day to herself. She normally got most of her chores done by mid-afternoon. She smiled a little as she sipped her tea and watched the news, it was certainly easier to clean the house as a modern woman of the 80s than back in the 50s.

    The 50s… Emiko frowned, slowly lowering her tea. She looked down at her reflection in the liquid, and even though it had been 30 years, she could still see the wounded as if she were back in that field hospital. The moaning sounds of the dead, the constant crackle of a geiger counter. The terrible, deep roar of…

    No, she mustn’t dwell on that part of her past. She closed her eyes, willing the awful memories to go away before sighing. Perhaps she would finally go through her father’s old things and sort them out, what harm could there be?

    She set a few boxes down in her room and began to file through them, falling into the old habits she had thought she had forgotten back when her father was still alive, pushing all of his scientific papers in one neat pile, his personal papers on the other. She smiled a little as she unearthed an old photograph of the two of them, smiling together at a beach. It was one of the last pictures she had of him before she moved out.

    It was the second box that piqued her curiosity, pulling out a worn leather journal. She frowned, looking at it oddly. She didn’t recall her father being the type to keep a journal, and flicked on one of the lamps at Ogata’s desk and sat down, going through the old pages and beginning to read.

    November 17th, 1965

    Due to recent events, I feel compelled to write my experiences down in this journal. For what purpose and for whose eyes, I have yet to figure out. Perhaps Emiko will inherit this journal when I pass, for after the events of the past few weeks my heart feels weak and my spirit even less. The exposure from the radiation of that fateful Trilobite certainly has not caused my health to increase.

    But I write on anyways, so my conscious can be clear, for I know that they will cover up this event like they tried to do with Godzilla. And in some ways, I fear that this is worse.

    One week ago, I had received a call to my home. Emiko has moved away and I confess I am still not entirely good at socializing over the phone. I am grateful that Emiko didn’t get my social awkwardness. As I am retired, normally I receive calls from various colleges to give lectures or talks about my field of study. I am after all, still a paleontologist and a man of science, even if such titles have been strained recently due to Godzilla. While I do not consider myself an expert by any means, it seems the public has a different opinion.

    I picked up the phone, not really expecting much other than the usual offer to come out for one scientific discourse or another.

    “Doctor Kyohei Yamane?”

    “Yes,” I replied. “This is Doctor Yamane. To whom am I speaking with?”

    “My name is Captain Terasawa, of the JASDF.” I frowned, what on earth would the Air Self Defence Force want with me?

    “And why exactly are you calling me, Captain? I don’t believe a retired professor of paleontology can be much help for the JASDF.”

    “Ah, that’s where you’d be mistaken, Doctor. I understand this may be painful for you, but you’re the only expert we can really call on. There’s been a mysterious atoll floating around the area recently. And it’s soaked in nuclear radiation.”

    My heart stopped beating for a few seconds. I do not need to remind whoever may be reading this that the last time I had been called for such a task, the end result was none other than Godzilla. Had my worst fears come true? Had another Godzilla surfaced so soon?

    My hand was shaking as I held the telephone up to my ear properly. “Captain.” I said, “Does this have to do with Godzilla?”

    There was silence, and I closed my eyes and prayed that he would tell me no.

    “Mercifully, it appears that whatever this atoll is, it’s not related to Godzilla in any way we can figure out. Still, we can’t be too sure and we would like your expert opinion.” I sighed in relief.

    I am only the expert in “Kaiju”, as I believe the term was coined, simply because I was one of the few scientists who survived the attack in Tokyo, and have a first hand knowledge on such creatures of size and power. I admit it did not fill me with confidence at the potential idea of another, separate monster other than Godzilla, but as much as I hate to admit it, my curiosity is my weakness.

    “Alright, Captain. I think I can agree to your request for aid. Just be warned I am an old man now, even older than I was back in the 50s. I may slow you down.”

    “With respect, sir, your expertise will be most appreciated. We’ll send an envoy to your home to pick you up. We’ll be seeing you within the hour, sir.” I put the phone down and ran a hand over my head. I felt in that instance a deep regret that I let my scientific curiosity override my judgement, and yet I also felt a hope that perhaps this time, all I could find was in the end, nothing significant.

    Why do I continue to believe such foolish hopes, when in the end death is all that waits at the end of these rabbit holes?

    Despite my misgivings, I had packed up a few portable instruments and jars as i had done over 10 years ago. Old habits tend to die hard, I find, and I was already in a fresh suit when the military jeep arrived and a young, fresh looking face greeted me. He shook my hand and we exchanged pleasantries, telling me of my destination was going to take me across the waters of Tokyo Bay and out towards the pacific.

    I admit it was a strange sensation, stepping foot on the little dingy that drove me out towards the battleships. I could see the atoll in the distance, it was rather hard to miss of course, but my eyes were drawn towards the water.

    I can still picture that day in my mind as if it happened yesterday. The cheers and well wishes of the crowd as we all embarked on that fateful voyage. I will never forget the look of anguish on Serizawa’s face, his… his Oxygen Destroyer cradled in his hand like it was a child. In some ways, it was his child, and that child was going to be used in a purpose he had sworn to himself would never be done.

    As we passed by the very spot, I remember Godzilla pushing through the waves one final time as the Oxygen Destroyer claimed his life and the life of dear Serizawa. That final, unholy roar will be in my nightmares for eternity. I held Emiko as she wept that night over our loss, and to this day I am sad that there was not a body to be buried. At least his memory will live on, and his sacrifice never forgotten.

    But if there is one thing I have learned, is that all military ships look the same. I was helped on board the battlecruiser and shook hands with Captain Terasawa. He was a handsome young man, with a bright face and intelligent eyes. “Doctor, it’s an honor to meet you. Come right this way and I’ll be able to brief you. You must be tired from such a long journey.”

    Despite my age, I was not yet ready to admit that I was feeling tired. I straightened my jacket and gave him a stern look. “I am perfectly fine, Captain. The sooner we are capable of discovering this mysterious radioactive atoll, the better I say.”

    He chuckled, and lead me down into the bowels of the ship, the waves lulling gently against the hull as we walked into a briefing room, where a handful of people, other scientists and a few military advisors, I would later discover, were crowded around a small table. “Doctor Yamane.” He announced, and he indicated the seat that I was too take.

    I felt… very out of place at that meeting. I was the oldest there by quite some years, and they all looked at me with a mixture of emotions I am still unable to sort through properly. But they all clearly believed I was somehow worthy of their respect as the deliberations for what this strange floating island could hold.

    “For Doctor Yamane’s benefit, I would like us to recap events so far.” The Captain stated, sitting at the head of the table. There was a murmur of agreement around the room, and he cleared his throat.

    “There have been accidents recently around the coastal waters of Japan regarding this mysterious atoll. All of the accidents have reported to have been carrying radioactive materials in some form. The atoll also appears to have been moving more towards the land recently, towards the bay specifically. We are unsure if this is the natural trajectory path or something… else.”

    He cleared his throat, shuffling a few newspapers. “Despite this uncertainty, we can understand that the entire island as it were is completely soaked with vast amounts of radiation. If this were to reach near the shore, I don’t need to tell any of you gentlemen the consequences of it all. We’re hoping that you all here may be able to think of a solution to repel this back out towards the ocean, where it can be safely dealt with.”

    My intrigue was very much piqued. I steepled my hands together and dwelled on what the known facts were. I disliked the idea of nuclear material being transported so casually, but even after the attack on Tokyo, it appears my protests fell on deaf ears. The fact that it appeared to be moving on its own however, was curious. I leaned forward slightly. “Is there anything that we can detect that could be the cause for this.. Atoll to begin moving towards the bay? I do not need to remind you that the force needed to uproot and move such a landmass perpetually through the water would be far greater than anything we are currently capable of.”

    I didn’t want to let my mind dwell on the possibility that it was a monster of some form, hiding beneath the waves like Godzilla had done. Yet the intrusive thought continued to pervade as we continued the discussion, eating at my mind like a parasite.

    “Is there a way we can reverse it’s trajectory?” One of the other scientists, I’m afraid the name slips my mind at the moment, piped up. “Push it back with force, perhaps even destroy it?”

    “No.” I stated firmly. When will these fools learn that destruction was never the answer to their problems, when a rational head and calm observation could be more beneficial? “Whatever has forced this atoll to start drifting, we already do not have anything capable of pushing it back.”

    It made my temper rise slightly to think that it was man’s meddling in nuclear energy that had caused all of this. To think that once again that destructive energy could wreak havoc on my beloved home. Haven’t we suffered enough for our mistakes of the past?

    “That leaves us at a bit of an awkward position, Doctor.” The Captain said. “There is something I think is worth nothing however. I was in the air taking reconnaissance pictures, and I have to admit I’ve never seen an atoll look like this before.” He handed out copies of the pictures to each of us, and we all grew silent as we studied them.

    I confess that in that moment, I wondered if it really would be wise to suggest the idea of another monster like Godzilla. The images to me, as a paleontologist, reminded me of the skeletons we had unearthed of strange, bird like creatures where all thought the lost city of Atlantis might be. Of course, I never put much faith into the stories of Atlantis, but the fossils of these creatures have puzzled me to this day.

    But before me was the unmistakable outline of a what appeared to be a turtle shell.

    I licked my lips, feeling the cold adrenaline of fear shoot through my body. I looked up at the others, and I saw that they had absolutely no clue what to make of it. Perhaps, I was being paranoid. I could hardly blame them for thinking that considering my experiences, but had they not called upon me for that very reason?

    I cleared my throat. Perhaps it was nothing, but I would rather be sure. “Gentlemen, I believe…”

    Before I could even finish, the boat rocked violently. We all grabbed onto the desk and held on tightly. We all looked up in alarm as one of the crewmates burst in through the door. “Captain! The atoll is breaking apart!”

    Despite the Captain telling us to stay put, I don’t believe a single one of us actually bothered to do so. We all followed him out onto the deck of the ship, where to our astonishment and amazement, the atoll began to break away. Giant chunks of rock chipping away and falling into the ocean like falling glaciers, spraying water high into the air.

    Then someone gasped, and the rest screamed. I clenched my hands behind my back as my fears had come to flesh. Flexing powerful claws, white tusks jutting out of its massive jaw and eyes that burned like orange flames, was another monster.

    We had no name for it at the time, but after some more research I had discovered a potential name for this creature that I believe to be accurate. An ancient creature of legend, from a time where monsters ruled this earth, a vicious machine of flesh to purge the world of evil. I shall refer to this monster as “Gamera” for the time being.

    Gamera was, to my estimate, 95 meters in height. Although I am unsure of the exact measurements, I am positive that this creature was far larger than Godzilla had been. That observation alone filled with with such dread I was afraid that my heart would give out on the spot. We had been baffled at how a creature Godzilla’s original size could stand, and here was something even larger and undoubtedly heavier. I could see that there were sharp protrusions sticking out of his elbow as well, and his shell also appeared to have rough, jagged edges. I could not help but wonder at why this creature had needed to evolve such rough features and scary demeanor, for what could possibly be threatening enough to this creature to merit such evolutionary action?

    This is where I sincerely wished that I had kept my curiosity bottled up tightly.

    Gamera opened his jaws wide and let loose a shriek that sent shivers down our spines. Despite the fact that we were standing on an armed battleship, we were all rooted to the spot in fear and admiration. He marched further inland, wading carefully through the buildings. I could tell he was an intelligent creature, the way his eyes swiveled back and forth across the city. Looking for something.

    Then, for seemingly no reason, his eyes narrowed and he shrieked again. I could tell he was intensely angry about something, although what that something was I still to this day have not even the faintest idea. Even now, months after the event, my weak heart quivers in fear at what we saw next.

    Fire churned in Gamera’s maw. Before any of us had time to react, there was a blinding flash and the familiar roar of flames as the monster expelled a great fireball from his mouth. It detonated violently against Tokyo Tower, and before we knew it a towering inferno began to burn. It was a scene that made me temporarily believe that Godzilla had returned. Black smoke curling into the air and surrounding the monster in violent flames. The sounds of the dying loud in my ears, the wail of the sirens.

    “Right, all of you down below. Whatever that creature is, we need to stop it.”

    I turned and stared at the captain in that instant, watching as he directed his men all around the deck. The roar of fighter planes sounded in my ears and before I could object, they had torn off of the runway and began speeding towards Gamera.

    My heart clenched. The last time I had advised against such action I was ignored. I still see their blood on my hands as I sat in my dark house that night, listening helplessly as Tokyo burned.

    I would not let more people be sacrificed like this again.

    “Captain.” I moved forward firmly, ignoring the two men that tried to hold me back. “Captain, I beg you not to engage in a fight with this monster. We were unable to even so much as scratch Godzilla, you’re sending your pilots to their deaths. Do not aggravate the monster, it will only make things worse.”

    He rounded on me, and I could see his temper flaring. I must have seemed like a senile old man to him, and perhaps I was. His nostrils flared in anger and his tone was clipped. “With all due respect, sir, I cannot sit by and do nothing while this monster burns my home to the ground.”

    “Yes, I understand that.” I tried, desperate to at least try and save more lives this time. My conscious could not allow anything else. “But you must focus your attention on evacuation. You will only cause more damage to the city and cause more death if you engage the monster.”

    “Yes, you would say something like that. I had read you were the only one advocating for Godzilla to survive.”

    “Do not think that I am merely saying this because I want the creature alive!” I snapped. “You weren’t there, Captain. When the military tried their hardest to kill Godzilla, it only made him angrier, stronger. He became more determined to make Tokyo a burning graveyard, and he almost succeeded! Do you think I like seeing this happen again, do you?! Do you really believe that I am so careless that I would want thousands, if not millions to die because I believe the cost is high enough? Nothing is worth that price Captain. Now if you do not stop your men and get them to put the fires out and evacuate the city, then the death toll will be higher and on your head!”

    I… am not ashamed of my outburst. For too long I had hoped that people would see my logic and agree with my reasoning and simply do what was needed to be done. In that moment, I realized that I was truly an old fool, and the only way I could potentially save lives was if I acted on my instinct and did everything in my power. I only pray that what I did was enough.

    The captain stared at me as if he were looking at a new man. We both turned our gaze towards the city, to poor Tokyo which had once again be befallen by a giant monster. Gamera had paused his fire attacks and began watching the planes with a wary eye. He seemed unwilling to make the first move.

    “Do you not see it captain? Do you not see him gauging the threat of your warbirds? The second they attack him, he will attack back and destroy them in an instant. He will get angry and destroy even more buildings.”

    They opened fire with a rattling of machine gun fire and missiles. Although neither were capable of damaging Gamera, there was a furious shriek and a great burst of flames. I watched in silence as the planes began to fall from the sky in burning heaps, crashing into the city and detonating on impact. I resisted the urge to utter “I told you so.”

    The captain was gone now, giving orders to his remaining men to focus on the evacuation and fire patrol. With any luck, and if they were quick enough, the blaze could be contained and casualties left to a minimum. It even seemed that Gamera had finished whatever his purpose for awakening had been, for he turned back towards the bay and began to walk towards the waters.

    And then he stopped, and stared.

    The waves around our boat began to churn violently. I slipped and stumbled on the deck, having to be caught by two young soldiers. I held onto them tightly as another boat was literally shoved out of the way, the waves swelling up and carrying it across the water like a bath toy. The unmistakable charcoal grey and white tipped shape of dorsal plates burst from the water like the fins of a shark, the water swelling up to titanic heights before crashing down.

    I was sure I had died and gone to hell at that sight. For only in my deepest nightmares would such a thing happen in my lifetime. My darkest fears, my prediction that I made all of those years ago had come back into flesh.

    A new Godzilla had arrived.

    I pray to whoever reads it, and especially pray if it is you, Emiko, who finds this journal and dares read on, that this is not going to be for the faint of heart. The fear that I have felt is such that I have only felt that when I had learned of the danger my daughter had been in during the tragedy of 1954. This time, we had no Oxygen Destroyer, we had no real hope.

    This time, we could not kill Godzilla.

    Despite my overwhelming fear, or perhaps because of it, I was able to determine several things about this Godzilla through passive observation. He was also noticeably larger than the Godzilla in 1954, he appeared to be more muscular to compensate for this increase in mass and height. Although I only saw the briefest glimpse of his face, I was able to determine that this creature had fed off radiation and grew to this size more naturally than his predecessor, who looked scarred and burned from the atomic testings.

    I wondered if perhaps this Godzilla fed off of nuclear energy. That he had merely come here to feed off of the atoll that housed Gamera. But as these two monsters sized each other up, flexing their claws and snarling at one another, they both yelled out a battle cry and charged at one another. I realized far too late what this meant, and before I could get below deck the waves buckled violently and threw us all to the slippery deck.

    As I regained my footing, the sounds of battle were loud in my ears. Godzilla and Gamera were trading blows back and forth viciously, claws scraping against hard shell and hide. I could see a blue energy spark off of Godzilla’s claws as he swiped at Gamera’s face, the turtle howling in pain and being forced to retreat as Godzilla’s dorsal plates shone a deep blue and he fired a pure beam of what I can only describe as atomic energy, for it was certainly not the misty breath the original Godzilla had fired.

    Whatever it was, it was powerful. There was a deep scorch mark on the underside of Gamera’s shell, a blackened splotch that curled with smoke. Amazingly, this injury did not seem to deter Gamera, and instead only enraged him further, more fire boiling in his gaping mouth before he unleashed a violent slurry of fireballs. Each hitting home and erupting against this new Godzilla’s body.

    He gave a trumpet of pain as his whole front half was completely engulfed in burning fire. I had never seen such a spectacle in my life, as this Godzilla also seemed to fuel his never-ending anger into his rage, and the quite literally flaming Godzilla charged forward and crashed his bulk into Gamera, sending them both tumbling towards the ground. Godzilla squirmed around, the fires on his body extinguishing quickly, although due to the color of his skin I was unable to tell if he was badly injured by the flames. Injured or no, Godzilla rose swiftly and swung his mighty body around, slapping Gamera in the face with his rather prehensile tail, wheeling around in a full 360 degrees and firing another terrifying ray of his atomic energy, pushing Gamera through an apartment complex and sending the whole thing crashing down on top of the turtle.

    I believe we were all frozen in fear, and I do not know when the captain had rejoined us, but he stood there, silently watching the two gods’ deathmatch in the heart of our capital. “What can we do?” He asked quietly, although I suspect he was not seeking an answer, yet I provided one anyways.

    “We let nature take its natural course. These… these monsters, will eventually tire. One of them, if we are lucky, shall die.” But I knew, and still know to this day and will know on my death bed, that Godzilla would never truly die.

    For we had killed Godzilla once, and in 10 years a new one, even more powerful than the last had surfaced. What hope do we have ending this menace if a new one merely takes its place? Will my calls for study, to try and understand this creature’s biology, how he eats, where he lives, how he lives, finally be heeded?

    Perhaps they won’t be. Perhaps it is mankind’s destiny to be at war forever against the unknown might of the Kaiju. Perhaps I am nothing but an old fool.

    And yet, nature continued her battle for dominance. Gamera had retreated into his hell and to our astonishment, blue flames erupted from the holes. The ancient turtle had began to spin rapidly and rise into the air, shooting off like a rocket in the sky. We watched as Godzilla tracked the movements cautiously, only to yell out when Gamera slammed into his chest with such force that Godzilla was forced to backpedal towards the bay.

    Another atomic blast ripped from Godzilla’s throat, and for a brief moment I thought he would tear the very sky asunder with his power as he tried to hit the flying Gamera. The turtle, despite his head being hidden by his shell, was somehow able to perfectly coordinate his flight so Godzilla missed him, sticking his head out only to produce another ball of flames that detonated around Godzilla. Gamera had charged at Godzilla and drove him into the sea, landing back onto the shore as the water crashed around his ankles.

    He waited there, silently, watching. It set my nerves on fire as the quiet grew louder and louder, until the sea erupted in a violent burst of blue energy and Gamera was caught unawares by the blast, sending him toppling on his back as Godzilla quickly moved out of the waves, shaking the water off of his hide and advancing on his fallen foe.

    I could see Gamera retreating into his shell again, clearly preparing another take-off. But before he could ignite his natural rockets, Godzilla stomped hard on his sternum. There was a sick crack in the air as Godzilla kept stomping down viciously, almost sadistically against Gamera’s plastrum. Gamera wheezed in pain, flailing his limbs as blood began to exude from his mouth, until he finally stabbed Godzilla’s leg with his elbow spikes, ripping at his flesh and forcing the dreadful creature to back away in pain.

    As Gamera stood, we were all taken aback at how tough these monsters were. This was surely a beating that would kill men if they had been in a similar fight, and yet these two creatures were seemingly willing to fight each other to the death.

    Perhaps, on reflection, that this is simply the nature of these monsters. While to my knowledge there has not been another sighting of either of these creatures, I hold my breath in fear that this battle was only the beginning of what is to come.

    The two monsters quickly moved forward again, once again trading blows. Their battle had significantly weakened their respective natural armor, and even from such a great distance I was able to see the blood that was spilled as claws and spikes were raked against flesh and plastron. As hellfire boiled in Gamera’s mouth, so too did Godzilla’s dorsal plates light up with energy. Both monsters fired their long ranged weapons point blanked at each other’s faces, the resulting explosion knocking both monsters asunder.

    Smoke curled into the air as the monsters lay still. For a brief moment, I was under the impression that they had knocked each other out. Perhaps if they had stayed unconscious long enough, we might have had better luck evacuating the city.

    Alas, fortune has rarely been on the side of humanity lately.

    It was Gamera to be the first to stir. He shook his head, injured and bleeding. One of his tusks had been snapped off in the mighty explosion, and he rose in an almost gingerly fashion.

    At the same time, Godzilla had begun to rise. He too was bleeding profusely from his face, and I had to squint to see that one of his eyes had been mauled by the explosion, but I shall leave out the unfortunate details beyond that point. The two monsters were out of breath, each giving the other looks that made the expression ‘if looks could kill’ very astute.

    I have never seen or heard of such ferocious fighting amongst animals, for indeed despite their giant size and near invulnerability to conventional weaponry, it is an irrefutable fact that these monsters are still animals, and for the first time during this deadly brawl I was hoping that one of them would slay the other, to have the nightmare lessened slightly. One would be weak enough to be slain by the military.

    A foolish hope at best, but when your nightmares are given flesh and are standing before you, you hope for any solution that will end it, even ones you appalled.

    It was Gamera who once again struck out, with the quickness and precision like a surgeon, he had reared his arm up and stabbed it into Godzilla’s chest. Godzilla howled in pain, grabbing Gamera’s arm and trying to expunge the natural blade that had so grievously wounded him. Gamera had simply lashed out, biting down hard on Godzilla’s neck and shaking like a rabid dog, flesh tearing from his throat.

    Foam had begun to spill out of Godzilla’s maw as he gave a hideous garbled cry, his whole body surging with raw atomic energy before a massive explosion sent the ship buckling and sending all of us collapsing on ourselves again. By the time we had once again righted ourselves, Gamera had been blown clear away from Godzilla, who stood hunched over, clutching at his chest.

    Had Gamera pierced Godzilla’s heart? Could Godzilla even survive such a wound that would normally be fatal to most other creatures? As the original Godzilla had been disintegrated entirely, what little information we knew about the creature did not contain where his vital organs could be. For all I am aware, he could have a secondary brain in his abdomen and we would be none the wiser. Such a complex nervous system in a creature like Godzilla seems unlikely, however.

    Whatever the case, it was evident that Godzilla was grievously injured, and very exhausted. Gamera too seemed in a similar state, and it is rather obvious as I reflect on these events that neither of them had come expecting such a vicious battle.

    Now it was Godzilla’s turn to stare down at his opponent, as if viewing the opposite monster in a new light. There was an unsettling silence as Godzilla stayed nearly motionless, the unsteady rise and fall of his chest being the only sign that he was still breathing. Then, Gamera began to rise.

    The two monsters stared at each other. Godzilla opened his mouth and roared. Gamera had done the same. The two stared at each other again before Godzilla had turned around, and began to limp back home to the water.

    Gamera watched his foe disappear under the waves, and closed his eyes briefly. I had never seen anything like it in my whole life, and I doubt I shall live to see anything like it again. This would be the last time to my knowledge, that we have seen Godzilla.

    Gamera turned his attention back towards the city and for one frightful moment I feared he would resume his unprovoked attack on poor Tokyo. Mercifully, he had appeared to be too weak to either continue the quest, or had decided that it was no longer worth the effort. He curled up into his shell and flew away into the sky. That was also the last we have seen of this monster.

    Despite the damage done by both monsters, the amount of people who actually saw this fateful battle was surprisingly little. It was small enough that the government has deemed that this whole event never took place, that it had all started with a freak accident and the inferno had spread. They had sworn us into secrecy and forced us to sign documents swearing that we would never speak of these events.

    I am breaking that promise because I cannot continue to live with what little time I have left with the truth suppressed. I have seen so much impossible things in my life and I have also seen much death. What happened on that day should never be forgotten, and the world should prepare itself for any potential attack by any of these two creatures, or perhaps another unknown creature.

    To whoever reads this. To you, Emiko.

    Heed my final words and be safe. For if you are to be put in danger due to these words, then you are to burn this and lock this knowledge away in your mind. Perhaps it might be best for the world if they do not have to live in fear.

    And yet, I fear that we shall be confronted with even greater perils we are ill equipped to handle.

    Emiko closed the journal with shaking hands. Tears began to roll down her cheeks, and she had failed to notice how long she had been reading her father’s journal until she heard the door open and Ogata calling out to the living room.

    She quickly wiped her eyes and called out her location, and smiled as his handsome face appeared at the doorway. He frowned when he saw her puffy eyes and walked over, pulling her into a hug. “What’s the matter, Emiko? You finally going through your fathers old things?“

    Emiko nodded, sniffling at her eyes and handing him the journal. “I think it’s important you read this, Ogata. I’m not sure what to do with it.” She got up out of his chair and he sat down in it.

    Flipping the journal open, he began to read.

    Draw: Godzilla (Heisei), Gamera (Heisei)

    K.W.C. // July 4, 2020
  • Author: Matthew Freese | Banner: Landon Soto

    From the ground, it would likely just look like a red and blue streak sailing through a bleak night sky. If one were to get a closer look, they’d recoil in shock at supposedly seeing the dead in the realm of the living.

    The being soaring through the dark heavens looked exactly like the kaiju Iris, a mutated product of ancient science that terrorized the world in 1999. Fueled by the hatred of a misguided and vengeful girl, it had sought out the guardian Gamera and done battle with the terrapin.

    But the being now soaring through the skies couldn’t have been Iris, for Iris had been eviscerated by Gamera’s divine power.

    This wasn’t the Iris the world had witnessed before.

    Humans had discovered the ruins of Atlantis. And as with all things, humankind plundered it. They had discovered rusted, ruined technology. Found shattered streets and buildings littered with skeletons. Preserved text written in a language no one had spoken in eons. It seemed pointless, but still the humans carried on.

    And in one ruined scientific facility, they found an embryo frozen and preserved.

    An embryo that they managed to extract and cultivate, until it grew spear-tipped tentacles and had an all-too familiar skull shape.

    It was a miraculous discovery. Not only for the scientific ramifications of being able to study a kaiju as complex and strange as Iris, but also for the potential for a new guardian to directly protect humanity.

    The new Iris remembered hearing its founders discuss these things amongst themselves. About how most guardians only protected the Earth, with humanity often only being protected because Earth was their home as well.

    And when Iris looked to the night sky now, it was reminded of the reason why humankind had wanted a guardian to protect them rather than the Earth.

    The reddish-orange sphere in the sky drew the full attention of anything looking up. Just the sight of it was foreboding, as it harshly contrasted with the black backdrop. But the knowledge of what it was only made things worse. It was the end of the Earth in its totality, which not a single life form could stop.

    Gorath. It had probably been given a million names throughout its existence. Some civilizations had probably only seen it as a passing light, while others found themselves in much the same situation as Earth. Whatever the case, it was a dwarf star half the size of Earth, but with a far denser mass than any planet. It had entered the solar system humankind called home. It has wreaked havoc upon the orbits of several planets already, but Earth was directly in its path. It wouldn’t even have to touch the blue marble, the sheer gravitational force of Gorath would reduce the planet to nothing.

    Humankind was desperate for survival, so some of them were leaving the planet to search the stars for a new place to live. That was where Iris would have come into the equation, joining the escapees as a guard along with humanity’s mechs and whatever guardians could be convinced to come along.

    They had already left, but Iris still stayed behind due to a simple mistake the scientists tasked with raising it had made. A single action, which they had never even considered being a problem.

    When they selected someone to bond with the new Iris, they had chosen someone with a fearful mind. Someone who, as they gripped the small stone found alongside the mutated Gyaos to join their soul with the creature, couldn’t stop their mind from drifting. Drifting to knowledge of the first Iris, of what it had done and how it had fought Gamera. How this one could follow in those same steps.

    Iris, still in its larval state, was overwhelmed. With such a bitter feeling as fear being forced into its heart; with images, brief flashes that steadily grew longer as the scientist tried to avoid the thoughts, of itself slaughtering people en masse; with images of the first of its species battling a colossal, bipedal tortoise who wielded the power of fire.

    And with a single movement, Iris had sealed its fate by driving a spear-tipped tentacle forward and puncturing the person’s throat. But it didn’t stop there.

    Every scientist in that room were soon nothing but dried carcasses. As were so many other people and animals as Iris quickly grew into its adult stage.

    And now it flew toward Gamera, seeking to kill the terrapin, in some desperate attempt to find purpose in its brief life beyond seeking sustenance.

    Doubt festered and spread through Iris’ mind. Did it really believe that avenging the previous Iris would give its brief life reason, or that it was truly Gamera’s fault it was stranded on a doomed planet? It had no other option, so it forced the doubt down. It had to do this, for closure’s sake.

    This was Earth’s last night.

    Far away from the wandering, young soul was an ancient being, contemplating existence.

    Gamera stood atop a cliff, eyes locked onto his home’s approaching destroyer. The guardian’s mind and heart raced with conflicting emotions, none of them good.

    Doubt. All these years he had spent fighting off threats to this planet, were they meaningless? Every drop of blood spilled from his form, every life form he couldn’t save, and every sacrifice he had to make for the greater good. Did none of it truly matter? All because of an astronomically small probability coming true. Did any actions matter in this fragile existence?

    Anger. At those who had fled the planet, humanity’s last remnants. Not for having fled, it was more complex than that. He had considered leaving with humanity, like other guardians such as King Caesar had. But the Earth was always his top priority. And he refused to participate in what he knew would happen.

    The last vestiges had brought many sensible and kind minds along. Scientists, rulers who cared about their subjects, and the wealthy who used their power for good. But with them were horrid criminals who avoided rotting in prison thanks to their wealth, politicians that happily stamped upon the downtrodden to line their pockets, and businessmen that had been suffocating the Earth without a hint of guilt.

    Humankind would need a new planet to call home, and it wouldn’t fear getting its hands dirty with another civilization’s blood to do so. No matter what the sensible and kind had to say, those with shattered moral compasses always knew how to get what they wanted.

    Finally, sorrow. Not for himself, but for everyone else on the planet that could comprehend what was coming. Despite his belief in what humanity’s survivors would do, he couldn’t have brought himself to stop their escape. Despite humanity’s evil, they had too much good in them for him to doom the whole species.

    He felt sorry for all the people still on Earth. Those who had accepted their demise and chosen to take this time to be with loved ones. Those who chose to drown their sorrows in debauchery, with lives so hollow that physical pleasure was their only solace. Those who lashed out at everything in sight, hiding bitter agony with wrath until Gorath came to burn it all away.

    Then there were the kaiju still stuck on Earth, those that could comprehend their coming doom at least. He hadn’t stayed with any of them long, but he knew their pain. They reacted much like the humans were, divided between those choosing to spend their final moments in tranquility and those who uselessly thrashed against oblivion’s tightening grasp.

    Gamera sighed. The star light reflected off of tears flowing from his eyes, as he switched from contemplating the rest of the world to remembering his own life. He began to reflect upon all he had done.

    But this bitter tranquility was soon interrupted by the roar of blazing, distant, fire which quickly increased in volume.

    Iris held an arm back, ready to drive it forward once it closed the distance. It didn’t want to finish the battle before it started, but the Ryuseicho did want to assure victory from the beginning.

    Gamera turned, just in time to react to the incoming attack. The terrapin leaped to the side in a feat of athleticism that seemed shocking based off his appearance, leaving the mutated Gyaos to stab the space where Gamera had been less than a second ago.

    Iris landed and turned toward its target, as Gamera recoiled at his assailant’s identity. The Ryuseicho merely let out a droning bellow, tentacles rising.

    Had the dead been let loose to walk the Earth? Gamera knew that some human myths of the apocalypse had something along those lines happening, and in the face of this he wondered just how mythical those tales were. He almost couldn’t believe his eyes. He briefly considered if this was nothing more than an illusion born of grief.

    When the tips of Iris’ tentacles opened and filled with energy, the guardian’s doubt and confusion were smothered by his fighting instincts.

    Four sonic cutters pierced the air, directed toward Gamera. The terrapin shielded his face with his arms, then braced himself as four gashes were carved into him. Green blood spewed from the guardian’s arms and torso. But millennia of fighting had given Gamera a tolerance for pain that was unmatched. So, instead of writhing in agony, he charged forward.

    Iris recoiled at the sudden charge, having expected a more severe reaction to its opening attack. This allowed Gamera to close the distance quickly. The guardian raked a claw against Iris’ chest, only succeeding in spraying sparks from the point of impact. Gamera’s other hand went toward the mutant Gyaos’ throat, but was bashed aside as Iris finally started fighting back. The Ryuseicho sliced at Gamera’s stomach, spilling torrents of blood. With its other arm, Iris went to stab the wound it had just created. Gamera used one hand to catch the spear-like protrusion, then swung his free hand as a fist into Iris’ face.

    Before Gamera could attack further, he felt two tentacles wrap around his leg. They yanked back, staggering the terrapin forward. Iris lunged forward, striking the guardian’s forehead with the sharp end of its skull. This sharp pain made Gamera’s grip loosen, allowing Iris to free its arm and rear it backward. Gamera looked up, unleashing a fireball from his jaws straight into Iris’ face.

    A harsh, droning bellow filled the air as Iris recoiled. Its tentacles flailed blindly as it recovered, aimed vaguely in front of the Ryuseicho. Gamera fired two more fireballs at Iris’ chest, leaving black marks on its metallic armor. He waited for an opportunity to charge in, but Iris’ manic thrashing was a more than adequate defense.

    The tentacles stopped, then opened their points. Iris looked straight toward Gamera, then let loose with four sonic rays. Gamera could only shield his face once more, a wise decision he soon realized when all four rays tore into his arms. Iris kept feeding power to these rays, meaning the guardian knew he couldn’t just wait this out. Gamera stepped forward, only for one beam to divert and rake across the outstretched leg.

    Iris let out a hateful bellow when Gamera’s head sank into his shell, the terrapin’s arms and legs soon following. The colossal shell clattered to the ground, its rigid back doing a far better job of withstanding the assault than his flesh had. The yellow beams ceased, as their demonic wielder began aiming them toward the holes in the shell.

    Blue fire erupted from where Gamera’s limbs and head had been. Kicking up a storm of dust and dirt, the shell began spinning in place. Iris stepped back, unsure of how to proceed. The shell, now a blur of motion, lifted off the ground.

    The shell rushed toward the Ryuseicho in a flash, closing the distance in less than a second. Iris was forced back, fighting to stay standing against the assault. The air was filled with a harsh grinding sound, sparks spilling from the point of impact. A cry of surprise left Iris, but was drowned out by the whir of hard keratin on metal.

    The mutated Gyaos swung an arm at the shell, bashing it away. The shell, still spinning, flew away from Iris. The Ryuseicho looked down at its chest, seeing a shallow groove where Gamera’s attack had connected. As it processed this, its tentacles split in half down from the tips, forming blue membranes of flesh which resembled wings. Iris looked back toward the blue streak in the sky, before streams of fire erupted from its back to propel it into the air.

    Gamera’s mind raced as he tried to come up with a way to win. Whether or not this was the Iris he had fought before, it still had the immense durability and power he had struggled against before. Countless foes had been killed instantly or crippled by his spinning shell. But Iris didn’t even seem pained from having what was, in essence, an eighty thousand ton buzzsaw ram into its chest. But he still overcame the first Iris, as he would tonight!

    The retreating guardian’s arms and head came out of his shell. He turned back toward his approaching foe, and shot forth two fireballs in rapid succession. They slammed into Iris’ tentacle membranes, burning the blue flesh black. The mutant Gyaos stumbled through the air, groaning. But still it soared toward the terrapin, left arm-spear held before it.

    The mutated Gyaos slammed into the terrapin, its outstretched arm tearing a hole in Gamera’s side. If it hadn’t been destabilized in its flight, it would have pierced Gamera’s chest instead. The two colossi tumbled down through the air, madly striking at each other in a tangled frenzy of limbs. Blood flowing from Gamera’s wounds spilled all over both combatants, leaving splatters of bright green all over both. Iris’ tentacles closed, hiding the blue membranes once more and leaving the appendages ready for combat.

    Realizing they were near the ground, Gamera grabbed Iris’ skull and began shifting his weight. Iris was too engrossed in the battle to notice it was being put beneath its foe, nor that the ground was swiftly approaching. Gamera’s jets roared to life once more, propelling him off his foe. Before he could get far, two of Iris’ tentacles whipped into his side, knocking him off balance as the bladed tips tore into his flesh.

    The Ryuseicho crashed into the ground, Gamera doing the same a fair distance away. The earth shook at the twin impacts, plumes and walls of dirt forming and then falling just as quickly.

    Gamera stood up a moment later, breathing deeply. He was covered in his own blood, the stains now dark and muddy from the soil covering them. Fortunately, his present wounds were quickly healing and gushing less blood, his internal heat acting as a cauterizer. He searched the area, keeping an eye out for Iris.

    The momentary silence let Gamera reflect. This foe seemed to fight with more purpose than Iris had in 1999, which confused him as this foe also fought like it barely understood how Gamera fought. Was this truly a new Iris? But if so, why would it attack him like this? He didn’t sense anyone trapped inside its core, suggesting it didn’t have a connection to any humans. Or had something happened to Ayana in the time since that day? Had Iris killed her before seeking him out?

    Gamera felt his fists clench tighter at the thought. If Iris had killed Ayana, he would ensure Iris died by his hands this night! He would not let such an injustice go unpunished! Why did he care? The Earth was doomed, Ayana, along with every other human would be dead either way soon enough. But still, why did the thought of Iris killing her incite such anger within him…

    This inner turmoil and confusion was interrupted as Iris rose to its feet. Its head tilted to find Gamera, the glowing orb within meeting Gamera’s gaze. The mutant’s tentacles extended, traveling toward the guardian. The terrapin shot fireballs at the appendages, but they were deflected and left to harmlessly strike the ground. Gamera’s legs retracted into his shell, fire replacing them, only for the tentacles to grasp Gamera’s arms. The terrapin’s flight only made it easier for Iris to begin pulling him closer, leaving the guardian to uselessly fight against the grip of the appenadages.

    Iris walked forward, arm-blades extended. As the distance between it and its foe closed, Iris raised its arms toward the quickly approaching Gamera. Fireballs crashed against its form, but any damage they could have done was ignored by the Ryuseicho.

    Gamera slammed into the outstretched blades, driving them through his torso. Green blood poured from the guardian’s jaws, spilling onto Iris’ body. A look of agony and shock was etched onto his face, eyes and mouth as wide as possible.

    A luminous power flowed from the spears, traveling down Iris’ arms and into its body. The various orbs on the mutant’s body glowed brighter than usual as it took in Gamera’s energy.

    The thrill of combat had already filled Iris with exciting emotions it had never experienced before. All of the organisms it had slain to achieve this form hadn’t put up a fight, the most impressive specimens only managing a useless struggle. Truly battling an opponent worth time and effort was exhilarating to the young entity. But now, the feeling of such grand power becoming added to its own was a sensation that it could have never imagined. It more than made up for the fact that it now had to put an end to the pleasure of battle.

    Pulling Gamera free of its arm-spears, Iris roughly tossed the guardian to the ground. He made no attempt to get up, whether due to lack of hope or of strength Iris did not know. The ends of the mutant’s four tentacles opened, only instead of a yellow glow, they became filled with fire.

    Spheres of burning plasma crashed into Gamera’s still form, blasting apart flesh and keratin. Iris kept firing, intent on continuing until its foe was surely dead. Soon, Gamera’s body began glowing, causing Iris to tilt its head. What was happening now?

    Gamera smiled. So, this was a new Iris. If it had been the first one reborn, it would have known full well why turning the guardian’s fire against him was a terrible idea.

    Iris stopped firing when it saw Gamera’s wounds close, and began backing away when the terrapin got to his feet with an ease like he had just started the fight. With a body still glowing a brilliant gold, Gamera channeled power to his jaws.

    A colossal fireball was unleashed, soaring toward Iris. The Ryuseicho lashed a tentacle out to swat it away, only for the end of the appendage to be burnt to ash. Iris bellowed in pain a moment before the projectile crashed into its chest.

    The mutated Gyaos was knocked off its feet, crashing back first to the ground. Gamera charged forward, grabbing one of his enemy’s flailing tentacles. With one hand he held it as he raised his other arm high. A spike came from his elbow, which he drove into the restrained tentacle. The crimson flesh split against the strike, spilling ichor. The guardian raised his arm again, and drove it back down, severing the tentacle.

    Iris’ other three tentacles wrapped around Gamera’s throat, squeezing down hard.

    Fighting through the pain, Gamera pried the tendrils off of his neck, restraining them. Before he could do anything to them, Iris got to its feet. Though the mutant was incapable of facial expressions, the guardian could still sense hatred and anger boiling inside of it.

    It was so close! Gamera was at its feet, at death’s door! Had it done any other attack, it would have won. But instead, Iris had shifted the tide of battle considerably against itself. As well, this new power flowing through it was pointless! Using Gamera’s power against the guardian only empowered him.

    Iris thrust its right knee up, driving the spike into Gamera’s thigh. The terrapin released the mutant’s tentacles, allowing it to lash them across the guardian’s flesh. At this point, only two of them could do any meaningful damage thanks to their metallic tip. Gamera shoved Iris back, then shot a plasma ball to try and push Iris back further.

    The fireball detonated against the Ryuseicho’s chest, but it did nothing to force it back. Instead it lunged forward, slashing its left arm-spear against its foe’s stomach. It carved open a shallow wound, which only made Gamera fight harder. The terrapin swung a punch across Iris’ skull, knocking the head aside and making it stagger back. Both of the guardian’s hands grabbed the mutant’s skull, and began twisting it. Iris bashed its arms against Gamera’s sides, trying to get him to back away, but he would not release his grip. He continued twisting, trying to break his foe’s neck and end this now.

    The Ryuseicho’s tentacles scraped against the terrapin’s stomach, until one found the fresh wound Iris had made. The metallic point of the appendage was forced into the wound, then opened, separating the skin. A sonic cutter ray left it soon afterward.

    With a haunting shriek, Gamera relinquished his grip. He grabbed the appendage, pulled it free, and tossed it aside. Both combatants backed away, staring daggers at the other. It was like nothing existed except the other, and all that mattered was winning this fight.

    That is, until the ground began violently shaking. Both looked around in confusion, until their gazes fell upon the glowing orb in the sky, preparing to pull the planet apart like it was made of clay and scatter the remains through the void.

    Gamera’s jaw dropped. He had been so caught up in the battle that for a brief moment, he had forgotten about Gorath. How could he have been so foolish? Had it been affecting the Earth already, and only now grown intense enough to break his battle focus? Suddenly, he perceived a blade being thrust toward his side. Before it could sink in, he caught it. Turning his head, he saw Iris. The being was shaking, and not just from the intensifying quake.

    It had to kill him. It had to have a meaning in life, there was no other option.

    Iris brought its tentacles forward and shot their beams at Gamera’s neck. The terrapin brought his free hand up just in time to block them. The pain brought him back to his senses, and renewed his resolve.

    He would die with the rest of his planet, not by the blade of this foe!

    Still gripping one of the mutant’s arms, the guardian slammed his fist into its elbow. The strike failed to dislocate the joint, allowing Iris to pull its arm free. The other arm lunged forward as fast as the muscles behind it could push, leaving Gamera little time to react. His palm came up, stopping the spear from piercing something more vital. He cried out anyway, the spear digging itself in far enough to hit the insides of the wrist.

    The spear glowed as it drained blood, leaving the hand to grow pale. Even if Iris could not utilize its foe’s power, it could still strip that power away. The guardian’s other hand gripped the blade, attempting to rip it out. Iris’ other arm went for Gamera’s chest, forcing him to intercept that blade.

    The two struggled against each other, neither gaining ground for a time. Until the earth beneath their feet began splitting open, causing both to stagger. Gamera regained his bearings quicker, and freed his hand from its impalement by pulling it back.

    The hand was practically useless, unresponsive to any stimuli or commands. Not a drop fell from the gaping wound in the palm. Burning plasma began building in Gamera’s jaws, as he prepared to blast the useless hand off and unleash his second strongest technique.

    Iris slammed into him, leaving the prepared fireball to be sent sailing through the air. The mutant slammed its head into Gamera’s forehead several times, eventually causing a stream of blood to start flowing from it. The guardian began retracting his head and limbs into his shell, only for Iris’ remaining tentacles to grasp his arms. They held the limbs firm, keeping them from retreating.

    The guardian shot a fireball directly into his foe’s face, trying to get any kind of breathing room. The mutant wouldn’t allow it, choosing to ram one of its knees into Gamera’s thigh to keep itself from backing away unconsciously. Iris continued bashing its arm-spears against its foe, each blow further cracking and breaking Gamera’s shell. Occasionally a blow would land on actual flesh, breaking the skin and causing horrid bruises to surround the impact point.

    Gamera had seen this kind of thing before. A creature fighting without any kind of inhibition, without any care for anything except for the death of a singular target. Iris had nothing to lose. And he was quickly running out of options for how to deal with it.

    The Ryuseicho backed up slightly, to slice at Gamera’s chest. Ignoring the pain wracking his whole body, the terrapin retracted his legs and fired up his jet propulsion. He flew back, shooting a fireball to try and keep his rabid foe back. Iris opened up its tentacle membranes, what had once been four, now only two and three-quarters of a third. But it was still enough to let the mutant Gyaos fly, and so it did.

    Gamera looked down, the momentary break in battle letting him take in his surroundings. The ground was breaking apart beneath the two, shallow grooves in the ground quickly deepening and spreading. He wasn’t sure if life on Earth had even an hour left to live, but right now he didn’t have time to worry. Every second was life-threatening for him right now.

    Iris was quickly gaining on him, so he had to act quickly. Bringing up his ruined hand, Gamera severed it with a fireball. The hand had already gone numb, so no pain halted the guardian as his power flowed from his mouth to the stump.

    The mutant was not flying stably. It shook back and forth, rose and fell, but it still went forward all the same, and that was its only concern. There was no pause when its foe blasted his own hand off, that only helped it in its goal. No fear welled up when in the hand’s place a raging sphere of fire formed, fire had assailed the mutant so much during this battle. Its bloodlust only grew when Gamera stopped flying away from it, and instead flew straight toward it.

    Iris’ shaky flight was beneficial, for instead of driving the burning fist straight into the mutant’s chest as he had intended, Gamera instead sent his attack into the Ryuseicho’s side.

    There was a massive explosion as both kaiju collided into each other. Iris’ left arm, left set of tentacles, and massive chunks of its armor fell away from them. Despite the grave loss of body mass, Iris still retained the sense to ram its remaining arm into Gamera’s torso, keeping the two right next to each other as they fell.

    The ground beneath them was ripping asunder, as if the landscape was opening a grand pair of jaws. Gamera tried to use his remaining arm to strike Iris, only for the last tentacle it owned to come around and restrain the arm against the terrapin’s side. The guardian struggled against his binding, but he found his strength waning.

    Looking down into the pit as they moved past its opening, the guardian only saw darkness. It seemed bottomless, but to the terrapin’s relief, they weren’t falling straight in. The momentum behind the collision had sent them falling at an angle. All he could hope for was that smashing into the wall would let him free himself.

    The break in action let questions surface in his mind. Why was he feeling things like hope and despair at this point? Why did he care about winning a battle that had no consequence? Why had he cared about if Iris had killed Ayana?

    As a cavern in the rock wall came into view, which they were sailing directly toward, Gamera struggled to find the answer to his questions. He looked at Iris, who looked back at him.

    Did this matter? Would killing Gamera give it the meaning it sought out? Gamera hadn’t wronged it, the guardian hadn’t personally driven Iris to kill the scientists who had found it. It had done that itself. It could have done any number of things to try and find some meaning, and it chose murder. Was murder just an inextricable part of its nature?

    As they crashed into the cavern, becoming separated as Gamera rolled deeper into the cave than Iris did, they just stayed down for a brief time.

    Gamera began getting up, his mind putting together the pieces as he stared at Iris. Remembering the day he had fought the first Iris, which brought back memories of other battles in his life.

    He fought to save lives. The fact that those lives would end one day, no matter what he did, never stopped him. If this life had an overarching meaning behind it, the living would never know it. So, the meaning of one’s life had to be made by oneself. Gamera had brought hope to an often bleak world and given countless lives the chance to see another sunrise. He had lived a good life, and it had taken one last battle on his home’s last day to make him truly see this.

    So, when Iris got to its feet as well, and the jets in its back fired up, Gamera did not feel fear. When the Ryuseicho lunged forward, remaining arm-spear pulled back, and he found he could barely move, let alone fight back, he did not despair. When the blade tore into his chest, destroying his heart, his final moments were not in agony or sorrow.

    If there had been enough strength in his body, he would have smiled as his millennia long struggle against the shadows ended.

    Iris pulled its blade free, turned around, and stumbled to the mouth of the cave. Even as deep down as it was, it could still see the bringer of the end suspended in the sky.

    They both only existed to cause pain and destruction.

    It never broke sight with Gorath. This didn’t change as the ground beneath its feet collapsed, sending the mutant spilling into the darkness below. Iris’ gaze remained on the glowing sphere.

    Until all sensation was gone.

    Winner: Iris

    K.W.C. // June 27, 2020
  • Author: Michael Allen | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    Gamera growled deeply in his throat before he swiped. The head of the Titan on the receiving end of his blow did not so much get its head knocked off, rather that its head popped from the impact. Gore splashed the ground and the gray, malformed corpse swiftly began to dissipate into nothing. Gamera had learned since his re-awakening these creatures dissolved upon death once the head and neck were obliterated.

    He knew these poor, drooling, and seemingly mindless Titans had once been human. It was something instinctual, his connection to the Earth itself that told him this. And even more unfortunate was the fact that saving them was impossible. Death was their only release from the eternal hunger that gripped them in its deranged throes. He took comfort in the knowledge that they did not seem to possess any true awareness of their situation.

    Rubble of civilization long since dead trembled and was kicked about like pebbles as the remaining Titans scrambled toward him. Gamera roared back in fierce determination and charged them. A swipe from his wrist claw beheading a stupidly grinning Titan, grotesque gray skin pulled tautly over a tall lanky frame. It fell past him, dissolving. He crushed a small one underfoot, unaffected for the crunching of bone and fresh blood that exploded out beneath him as a result.

    A glow built up in his tusked mouth, heralding the unleashing of his plasma fireball point blank in the face of the last Titan.

    His green eyes scanned the surroundings of the ruined city. Architecturally, he could deduce a familiarity in the modernity of the structures, what remained at least. It must’ve only been a few decades after his final battle with the Gyaos that these Titans had risen to drive humanity to the brink of extinction. And he had been fighting them for a very long time. Gamera’s perception of time was not like a mortal beings’ conceptualization of it. He understood the cycle of change and repetition, the fact that as long as there was life certain things had the possibility of occurring again. No matter the era.

    He breathed out deeply, smoke billowing from his mouth. He did not know the full story of how these monsters had risen, but he could piece together the fact that humans were certainly in part responsible for it. Toying foolishly with powers beyond their comprehension as they had eons ago.

    But as always, he would fight. Fight for the Earth. Fight for those who had the power and hope to change the world for a better tomorrow.

    The guardian’s head shifted, a sudden wind stirring dust and trees and their summer leaves. He felt a call to the north.

    Go there. He was needed desperately.

    Taking flight, he would answer the call.

    —-

    Shikishima strode through the wastes of Monzen in his Armored Titan form. Beneath his left arm he hefted the last bomb comfortably. He found it humorous how humans of old would decorate their weapons of death with pictures, ranging from grim to silly. This one had the picture of a blonde woman and the sea. Amusing. A behavioral quirk one would be hard pressed to find in the subservient wastes that called themselves human in today’s hollow mess of a world. His armored face formed a hard scowl at the thought of these beaten down masses as he continued his lone trek toward his destination: the second wall. He would breach it and allow the Titans to swarm the dull eyed masses. Happy to live in slavery as long as it meant “peace.”

    Shikishima felt no pity. Apathy was as punishable as the wanton malice and greed those in power demonstrated. Orchestrating terror and tragedy to further their control.

    Without thought he passed through the remains of destroyed homes, businesses, and public gathering places. Dust swirled through the air and the sky was perpetually gray. Had it really only been two years since this wretched little place had been annihilated? Two years was indistinguishable from two hundred.

    He growled when a strange sound unlike anything he had before reached his ears and for once, he turned his eyes to the sky.

    A figure broke through the gray clouds; azure plasma fire carrying him through the air as he rapidly descended toward the Armored Titan.

    It couldn’t be…

    Shikishima was a knowledgeable man, especially when contrasted to others. He knew much of the world’s long history. Both the conventional nonsense they were taught and the secret history that swam beneath it like blood in the veins of an organism.

    He had seen the footage from the latter half of the 1990s. The time period humanity lived in was not the first time the human race had almost been brought to extinction. He’d seen what footage remained from the very being who approached him now, and his final battle with the beasts known as the Gyaos. In fact, the idea that the human race had come so close to destruction that year had been what prompted hundreds of illegal human experimentation that had spawned the Titans.

    The irony was not lost on Shikishima, who always appreciated a good joke, even if it was black as pitch. The humans of the past had repeated the errors of an even older past. The Atlanteans had created the Gyaos and that had been their undoing. Humans created the Titans. A poetic eternal recurrence.

    Gamera landed, the ground cracking and trembling thunderously beneath him. Green eyes bore into milky white as the two opposing giants stared each other down. To Shikishima’s surprise Gamera was taller than him by a good fifteen meters. The Armored Titan was hulking and powerful, but even he was dwarfed by Gamera. Last he had read, Gamera was eighty meters. Many speculated Gamera’s body evolved and perfected itself and evidently that was true. His gradual change in appearance and increase in power throughout the 90s had demonstrated that.

    “Gamera?” Shikishima spoke; though his tone was amplified by his great size in Titan form he addressed the guardian as one might speak to a new friend. He knew exactly who he was but he wanted to see confirmation for himself.

    A subtle nod from the tusked face. Barely noticeable, but within the nape of his armored body’s neck he grinned.

    “Come to stop me?”

    No response.

    He set the bomb that would assure a new future aside, tall grass whipped against its unfeeling metal form.

    Gamera growled, sensing the evil emanating from this unusual Titan. An evil that was conscious in nature rather than mindless beings simply devouring in primordial need. His clawed fingers tensed.

    “Then let’s see if you live up to the legends, Guardian of the Universe!”

    The two charged at one another, fully prepared to die for what each individually fought for.

    Gamera’s powerful legs carried him forward until they collided in a grapple. A boom reverberated the air around them, rippling like a lake’s surface. Steam billowed hellishly from the Armored Titan and the skin visible between the plates of armor pulsed from red to purple.

    The Armored Titan yelled as he found himself being driven backward by his foe’s superior strength. Growling, he threw his elbow into the side of Gamera’s jaw, stunning him. Pressing his attack, the Titan delivered several rapid fire punches to Gamera’s plated chest, but this only succeeded in making him stumble. Gamera roared, swiping with a wrist claw, but the long haired humanoid merely ducked with an exclamation that sounded similar to a laugh.

    “Too slow!” Shikishima jeered.

    An uppercut jerked Gamera’s head back and he allowed himself to take a few steps away in a feigning act of being overwhelmed. The Armored Titan was fast and skilled, but overconfident. And his following actions were easily anticipated.

    The humanoid swung his right leg at Gamera’s skull in a kick…and in a blur the guardian’s jaws locked onto the limb. Rumbling in his throat Gamera heaved, lifting the Armored Titan into the air and spinning him about and flinging him like a mere toy. The Titan’s plated armor glinted in the sunlight that peeked through the dreary clouds, his skin pulsating in mounting rage. He adjusted his massive frame quickly, acting on reflex. Tucking and rolling and popping up back on his feet gracefully. The remains of buildings trembled and rattled apart pitifully from the greatness of their struggle.

    Gamera pressed the advantage and closed the distance with a frightening speed. Though he would never openly admit, in that exact moment, Shikishima doubted his chances against the shelled warrior, unstoppably determined. Green eyes held the fire of battle, a battle he would never stop fighting as long as he could breathe.

    The Armored Titan blocked the impending swipe with his strong forearms, grunting in the strain against his opponent’s unambiguous superiority in might. But that was an easy way to predict an attack, and Gamera had not won countless battles by being predictable. Another swipe followed and claws tore deep, steaming gouges in the Titan’s nightmarish visage. Bellowing and half blinded he leapt back, wiping blood from his eyes. Gamera snarled, taking notice that this Titan could heal like the lesser of its brethren.

    He rushed the Armored Titan, slamming into him and lifting him off his feet and into the hollow remains of a building. Their roars rising to the sky, dust and rubble flying about in a great cloud. Like apparitions in the shadows, they fought on.

    Exploiting Gamera’s momentum, the Armored Titan seized Gamera’s left arm and, in a heave that required more strength than he knew he possessed, he flipped Gamera over his head.

    Hunks of earth shot skyward and the ground shook from the massive shell that now smashed hard into it. Wasting not a second, he began ruthlessly slamming Gamera’s head into the ground, wanting nothing more than to crack it into a million pieces. The Armored Titan’s head snapped to the geysers of hot exhaust that erupted from where Gamera’s legs had once been. The exhaust became plasma fire in the blink of an eye and he roared in rage, as with no alternative, he released Gamera.

    The Guardian of the Universe flew by and up neatly before landing a distance away, flattening the remains of a public market square, untouched for two years.

    Gamera roared in defiance and again met the Armored Titan head on. Glaring into his opponent’s eyes, he gripped his left shoulder, unharmed by the Titan’s high body temperature. His other hand grabbed hold of Shikishima’s left arm. One decisive yank was all it took to tear it completely out of its socket. Strands of flesh dangled and bone jutted from the injury.

    The Armored Titan bellowed in both pain and rage. Despite the power this white, armored form gave him, Shikishima could still feel pain. It seared his human body’s side down to his bones and his teeth gritted as he waited for his body regenerate. Hot blood spurted in gouts, dousing the earth as he hurriedly stumbled back snarling his hatred at Gamera. Without sparing it a glance, Gamera tossed the arm aside and pressed on. The Armored Titan’s body rapidly began generating a new arm, but not fast enough. Gamera effortlessly blocked the punch and jabbed the Titan’s gut. A wheeze. A hard left swing battered the Titan’s head and blood spurted from the dented face. Another punch cracked his chest armor and a harsh shoulder sent him sprawling.

    —-

    Eren, Mikasa and Armin watched the duel, slack jawed. They had pursued the Armored Titan through the remains of their dead home. Where they had spent their childhoods, where their loved ones had met horrific deaths at forces beyond their control. They had seen the figure descend from the sky and oppose Shikishima.

    Mikasa most of all.

    “Gamera,” she whispered. In her heart she felt a strange swelling. An emotion that could only be called relief. She remembered all the stories her grandmother had told her before bed when she had been just a small child. Stories of a great guardian god: Gamera. She had been told that one of her forefathers had been saved by Gamera when he had been but a little boy. The concrete name of the place eluded her somewhat, but she could have sworn she’d heard the name “Shibuya,” a place in a Japan that no longer existed. She remembered hoping and praying that Gamera was real. That he would deliver them from the Titan’s and the cold, unfeeling walls that penetrated even in her dreams.

    After all this time…were those childhood prayers being answered?

    “Mikasa?” Eren gripped her cloaked shoulder, looking at her questioningly.

    “It’s nothing,” she composed herself, “we need to get that bomb.”

    —-

    The Armored Titan coughed blood, Gamera’s wrist claw slashing his throat wide open. In spite of this he swung, his punch finding purchase to the side of Gamera’s jaw and he promptly followed up with a hard kick to the side of his left leg. Gamera grunted, moderately unbalanced, and Shikishima saw an opportunity.

    Stooping down, he took hold of Gamera’s ankle and jerked the leg, and with a roar gave an enormous twist of the limb in hopes of breaking it.

    Gamera shrieked and toppled over, the abused joint now throbbing. But he had suffered far, far worse than that. He loosed a plasma fireball and the Armored Titan only narrowly avoided its full wrath. Plates on the side of his body melted into disgusting sludge from where it had grazed him. The Armored Titan glowered in a deep rage that was beginning to encroach on something existential.

    Gamera stood upright once more, undaunted.

    “Why are you fighting to save these people?” Shikishima at last spoke again. “Certainly you must be aware they caused all of this?” The sneer on the giant’s face mirroring the one he gave in the confines of its body.

    No answer. Gamera stood as a shelled monolith, bathed in sunlight that seemed divine in radiance.

    “Time and time again, humans cause tragedy and perpetuate these horrors for their own gain! Apathy breeds this and only those with the will to tear it all down have a chance at changing anything!” Shikishima was genuinely frustrated at, in his own views, his inability to reason with someone who had every reason and more to hate them. To want to destroy them.

    “Is what you’re doing any different?”

    The thought entered Shikishima’s head in a voice that was not his own. Deep, ancient, and reverberant.

    The Armored Titan howled, body steaming.

    “I am nothing like them, I’m going to save the world!”

    To the trio that had at last found the bomb knelt by it and watched on. Unable to look away, Eren thought Shikishima insane at his attempts to communicate with the being that he battled so fiercely with.

    “Die with the rest of them.” The Armored Titan snatched up a large, blade-like object from the remains of a destroyed building.

    Gamera understood now. Shikishima was evil at the present time, but he found there was little that separated him from Ayana Hirasaka all those years ago. Angry, misguided. Hate born from a world where she felt she had lost everything to something outside of her control. Grief contorting her heart. This man was much the same.

    He ducked beneath the swing aimed for his neck, grunting when a ferocious kick nailed his abdomen.

    Gamera swiped and the Armored Titan pivoted his weapon, thrusting it forward with a yowl. Gamera caterwauled as the blade pierced into his right hand and pushed through the palm with venomous spite. Green blood trickled down his wrist and arm, staining the metal.

    The Armored Titan’s nearly lipless mouth pulled into a smile, satisfied at finally drawing blood. But that was far from what it would take to stop Gamera.

    The guardian lashed with his free hand and the Armored Titan felt the breath leave his body, coughing and choking on a flood of crimson that bubbled up in his throat and dribbled from his mouth. Gamera’s left hand broke through the plates protecting his gut and pierced through, bursting out the back. Without hesitation the guardian headbutted him squarely in the face, practically destroying the head entirely. The mutilated body stumbled weakly, desperately repairing the damage. Bony plates clattered to the ground and entrails wetly plopped to join them, sizzling in the increasing sunlight. From a distance, the two appeared to be bathed in the light of a supernova, and somehow the ruins of Monzen seemed alive once more.

    Gamera growled in suppressed pain as he pulled the weapon out of his hand. Momentarily he inspected it, his fingers tensing. The irony of the injuries mutually inflicted not lost upon him.

    Again, the battle was rejoined, the Armored Titan aiming another kick to his side. Angling his side, the kick harmlessly bounced off the serrated edge of his shell. The plates on the Titan’s belly absent, evidently the more heavily armored parts of his body took longer to restore themselves. Gamera grunted, eyes narrowing as a plan formulated.

    He caught the right arm that swung at him and squeezed, plates rubbing together audibly until the limb splintered under his vice grip. The Armored Titan roared in agony, that roar becoming a gurgle as claws ripped open his belly once more. Entrails dangling and Shikishima’s strength began to fade, his face twisting in an odd concoction of anger and despair.

    Gamera’s hands plunged into the fresh wound and his arms began to work. Muscle and bone fought hard to stay together as Shikishima realized with horror that Gamera was ripping him in two, tearing faster than he could heal. With a titanic roar, Gamera pulled up and an explosion of blood and gore followed. The upper body of the Armored Titan flew and twisted limply, the legs lifelessly toppling at Gamera’s feet.

    The upper body landed in a heap, groaning and gurgling feebly. Futilely clawing at the earth and gouging into the soil and grass, dragging himself away, slowly leaving a shining red trail in his wake, chunks of his own body rending from him. Was this all his ambition led to? A bestial struggle for his own life that ended with him pathetically dragging himself across the ground?

    Powerful footsteps followed him and he registered the gore smeared claws plunging into his nape. His world became black when Gamera tore him free of his maimed Titan body.

    The guardian looked at the vestigial mass that held within it a man. Unconscious and vulnerable. Angry and misguided, but with aspirations of changing the world. Turning his gaze to the three humans that still watched them, he slowly marched his way toward them.

    —-

    “He’s coming this way!” Armin gestured frantically at the approaching giant. He clutched at Eren and Mikasa, tugging at them fearfully, wanting nothing more than to run.

    “Wait,” Mikasa murmured, softly gesturing for them to wait and release their fear. Something about Gamera’s intent resonated with her. At the moment, she was not entirely certain if it was something metaphysical in his attempt at communication and stemming from the stories of him that had given her hope years ago or simple projection. She doubted the latter interpretation.

    Gamera stood before them and they were engulfed in his shadow, it spilled across the land like a wave. Sunlight hung behind him and burned like a halo. A gentle, hissing growl rumbled from him and slowly he knelt down to them, extending his blood caked hand carefully. Eren kept a brave face, not entirely certain of the giant’s intent. Mikasa unflinchingly looked him in the eye as he laid Shikishima before them. Alive. Unconscious, but alive.

    Mikasa looked at the captain who had trained her, and then she looked up at Gamera. He unmistakably nodded toward her.

    “I understand,” she spoke clearly to him and her voice felt small in his presence but she knew he comprehended.

    A beat of silence and Gamera set off once more, she still watched him.

    Once he was a considerable distance away, he took flight into the sky. He still had work to do. It would be a long road ahead but he knew with certainty humanity would have a future, in no small part due to those four.

    “Mikasa?” Eren spoke, awed, but confused.

    “He’ll come back when the last of the Titans are exterminated,” she doubted that likely would not be in her lifetime, but she understood the chance he had given them all. And the chance he had given Shikishima. Mercy was a rare thing, even rarer in the world they knew.

    They had work to do and like Gamera’s own mission, it was monumental. But in that moment of clarity, the three of them had a distinct knowledge that they would succeed.

    A roar of triumph and battle sang through the sky, ushering in a new era.

    This time, they would make sure it was not wasted.

    Winner: Gamera (Heisei)

    K.W.C. // June 20, 2020
  • Author: Thomas Fairchild | Banner: Thomas Fairchild

    They closed their eyes to see the white canvas turn black.

    The distant sun exposed the Earth, a world flirting with innovation and annihilation. A loud, high-pitched scream rocked the planet to its core, stirring it to action. Waves of golden energy emanated from all corners of the globe, surging through wild blue oceans, lush green fields, puffy white clouds, and silent gray mountains, ultimately converging on the nation of Japan. It was neither a natural phenomenon nor a human-made experiment gone awry; it was the planet’s last desperate plan to repel the most insidious of infections. (more…)

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    A colossal, black shadow darted across the city of Fukuoka. Masses of people fled in terror, filling the streets with panic as they attempted to evacuate the city. A chorus of fear-inducing cackling filled the ears of terrified people, their shrieks of fear drowned out by the monstrous cacophony from above. (more…)

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    The mutated human known as Frankenstein sat upon the beach, watching over the crashing waves of the ocean. A rash of kaiju attacks on cities and battles between the monsters started operations to contain them. Monsterland was reactivated, with research facilities being relocated outside of the island’s natural borders. Upon detecting the presence of a kaiju, they were subdued and sent to the island. For him, it had taken little coaxing to move, even if he didn’t want to. There were still creatures out there that needed dealing with, and he could have helped with it. He couldn’t change what had happened though, and wasn’t able to swim away. Picking up a flat boulder, he sent it skipping across the water. It bounced once, twice, and sank beneath the ocean waves. (more…)

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    [Continued from Match 127]

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