Authors: Alex Williams & Andrew Sudomerski | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

A sudden crack of lightning rained from the rolling storm clouds, temporarily illuminating the darkness.

Trampling feet splashed the soaked muck, splattering mud with every step they took. Surrounded by endless waves of dense forestry, it truly felt endless. Pounding rain battered against their skin and clothes, drenching the fabric against their frames. They escaped with their lives, but they were far from out of danger.

“Split up! They won’t be able to get us!” Fuyutsuki cried out, hollering over the torrential downpour. His fellow escapees nodded and branched off into different paths, hoping to confuse their tormentors. Fuyutsuki, a fit Japanese man, turned and took one last glimpse at their prison; a classic European-styled stone castle, a strange and foreign structure that was uncommon around these parts. In doing so, he was quick to notice the silhouette of another man that was directly on his trail.

‘Is that one of us? Why didn’t they take a different path?’ he recollected, trying to remember all the individual faces. Among the seven of them that got out, he certainly didn’t recall anyone being left that far behind…

His eyes widened, realizing who was more than likely following his tracks. No, it couldn’t have been an additional member, because they weren’t running for their lives. They were chasing him. Lightning filled the sky, once again flashing light upon this dark, desolate land. He didn’t even need to question that it was the castle’s man-servant that was actively pursuing him.

‘But even if it catches me, the others can still get away,’ Fuyutsuki thought, reassuring himself. He couldn’t slow down for even just a moment, lest the pursuer close the gap between them in a moment’s notice. For several minutes, though in perhaps what felt like hours, they continued the endless marathon through the vast expanse of thickets and foliage. However, another sound caught Fuyutsuki’s attention, one that hailed from above.

His ears caught wind of compressed air, as if from the wings of a large bat, one that could be heard over the ceaseless rain. When he looked up, he saw that of a wicked shape soaring the skies, not uttering a single screech. The winged demon, no larger than a man, folded its wings and dove into the forest, splintering and crashing trees as he heard the helpless screams of his compatriots. Almost as if it squirmed through the tight space like a snake slithering through grass, Fuyutsuki heard two more subsequent screams. His skin turned pale and eyes widened in fright.

‘Three of them in one go? That’s impossible!’ Almost as if to confirm his disbelief, the man-sized hunter crossed in front of Fuyutsuki’s trajectory, forcing him to swing to another path. For the moment he saw it, his mind imprinted a scarring image that would haunt him for as long as he lived. Bright red blood staining the creature’s serrated teeth, a leg hanging out of its ravenous maw. The remains of Fudo clutched under its talons, a mangled mess of the man he once was. Veering from his original path, Fuyutsuki aimed to escape into the trees, and–

–in a panic, one misstep was all it took. Tripping over a jutted root, Fuyutsuki fell head-first onto the rough bark of another tree root. He felt his skull fracture, his mind ringing with a disorientating light-headedness that accompanied the sudden jolt. He clutched his hands on his head, trying to numb the reeling pain, squirming and moaning in the process. Though his instincts were surprised that the malicious bird paid no heed, he also felt this was the end of the line for him.

As he tried to focus, he saw the figure of a man looming over him. Clad in a black tuxedo and wrapped under a full-body cape, the pale faced man jeered with contempt. His golden eyes stood out unnaturally against the darkness of the night. The man genuflected on his knee, maintaining direct eye contact with the injured individual the entire time.

“See you soon, Fuyutsuki,” the man quietly whispered. In a blink, the man vanished into thin air. Fuyutsuki rolled against the tough bark, trying to regain his equilibrium. But by a force not of his own volition, he was hoisted up into the air by powerful hands. When he picked up on the distinctive stench, he knew he was done for. The beastly man-servant roughly threw him over the shoulder, turning around and rushing back to the castle.

His time as a man was going to run short, and the last thing he would hear were the terrifying screams of his cellmates as they were eaten alive, one by one.

Nanao, Noto Peninsula, Japan

A quiet city that sat along the coast, serene and lively to those that lived here. Everyday routine kept the workflow going, with fishermen casting their nets into the Byobuseto Strait, and workers returned to their desk jobs day by day. But for one man, his work wasn’t treated as normal compared to the others. Instead, it was his new day job ever since his invention was made public around the world.

Everyone around the world marveled at Goro Ibuki’s invention: Jet Jaguar, as it assisted Godzilla in repelling the Seatopian invasion just one year prior. Several immediately came rushing to him for use of his robot or to even mass produce it for a variety of purposes. Military, public safety, mascots, and even actors. However, Goro rejected every request thrown at him, believing people would only make the wrong choices with his schematics. Even if they had the best of intentions.

Still, he did adore several of the requests people came up with, which was why he took a step back from crafting inventions and instead focused on doing some good with his greatest creation. He and Jet Jaguar took on the role of investigators, solving every problem that came across their way. The past year had treated them well, bringing peace and stability to all who yearned for it.

Despite the good deeds they have committed and the rewards they’ve acquired from it this past year, the two of them were feeling burnt out. Things weren’t the same as they were, the duo having their own separate reasons, but nonetheless, felt the same about their crime solving activities.

“Patches is stuck in a tree, again,” Goro announced, setting the paper down on his table, glancing up at his robotic partner standing in front of it. His smile was still firmly in place, but deep down, he knew the size altering robot frowned. “You want to help get him down? It’ll only take an afternoon.”

Jet Jaguar vocalized his displeasure as he immediately gave Goro a thumbs down. He rubbed his head in frustration, inquiring as to why his creation would reject such a simple task. “And why do you object to rescuing a cat?”

Goro’s creation pointed to his left shoulder, showing a tiny scratch still in place. The inventor sighed in frustration. “Jet, no one can notice it. I don’t see the big deal, it’s just some missing paint.”

The size-changing robot moved his arms around while its beeps became more rapid, clearly agitated by what his father just vocalized.

Goro raised his hands in defense. “Right, right. I suppose if I got a scratch on my arm, I would make sure I got it all worked out.”

He looked back down at his stack of cases as Jet Jaguar let his arms drop. “We won’t do the Patches case.” Goro shifted through the papers, trying to find the case that would speak to the both of them as his creation let out another beep, forcing him to release another groan. “And yes, the paint job will be on the to-do list.”

Goro brought his hand up to his head while he kept his gaze on the stack of papers. How did this exciting job get so frustrating so fast? Almost every task kept their lives from getting dull, and yet, something was very off putting to him.

He had a feeling the day to day requests would be so primitive, but at least expected something to come out of it. Goro knew he succeeded with creating such an advanced mechanism, that it was capable of experiencing boredom and even annoyance. However, he didn’t like the idea of dealing with the robot equivalent of a moody teenger.

“I shouldn’t even have to put up with this until Rokuro reaches that age,” muttered an irritated Goro, with Jet Jaguar beeping once more gaining his father’s attention. He looked up to see his creation’s behavior mimicking melancholy, clearly bothered by the absences in their lives.

Goro sighed, abandoning his hold on the paper. “I miss them, too.”

Rokuro had to return to their parents while Hiroshi was off touring the country, testing a new car for the company he worked at. Goro breathed in heavily, wishing he could go with either or both of them, but they all had their priorities to attend to. They were important to him, the two that mattered to him the most. He longed for the days when it was the four of them living together this past year, but sadly, they were long gone.

Goro just wished he got to say more to Hiroshi before leaving for an extended period of time. With a deep exhale, he glanced up to his creation and spoke. “You just want to take the day off?”

Jet Jaguar yanked his arm upward and gave him a thumbs up. Goro chuckled, “Of course you do.”

He got up from his desk and walked toward a nearby cabinet. The inventor opened the door and pulled out one of his finest bottles of liquor in his possession. He planned to save it for a more special moment, but considering the mindset he was in, now was better than ever.

Goro poured himself a drink, looking back up at Jet Jaguar. “You want some?” he half heartedly joked.

Jet Jaguar shook his head while he chuckled. “Putting alcohol consumption on the to-do list.”

He brought the cups to lips, getting ready to help ease his thoughts, when a knock was heard on the door. Goro pulled the drink away and set it down.

Jet Jaguar motioned toward the door, but his creator spoke out. “I’ll get it.”

The inventor traversed toward the door with his creation following not far behind. Goro expected it to be a delivery or someone pulling a prank on, but when he opened the door, he was surprised by what he saw.

A gorgeous, young woman stood at his doorstep. Her long, black curly hair was draped down to her shoulders as her face was painted with concern. Immediately Goro dropped any hint of annoyance he previously had and replaced it with a sense of newfound responsibility.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” he inquired.

“Um…. no!” she rashly blared out, but quickly covered her mouth up, realizing how she just acted. Goro was taken slightly back, but had to tell himself that something was clearly wrong with the woman. “Sorry, I’m just a bit on edge and I heard you and your….. robot are the only ones who can help.”

“I…… you do know I only answer letters or phone calls regarding cases, right?” Goro inquired. “It was even on the fliers around town.”

“I’m aware of that!” she nearly spat out, but stopped herself to convey it with a more leveled response. “Sorry. I just…. really need your help is all.”

Goro sighed as he rested his hand on the doorframe, knowing the very least he could do was to hear her out. Even if her request may be tiresome like the others. “What seems to be troubling you, then?”

“A few weeks ago, my sister and her friends went on a trip to a nearby town. Part of a corporate retreat, I believe, but they haven’t been seen since, and when I try to go to the authorities about it, they always turn me away. They tell me there’s nothing they can do about it,” explained the client.

“Really? They just turned you away that fast without even putting up a search warrant?” asked Goro, feeling immediately dismissive of the story being told to him.

“I know it’s crazy, the police not doing anything, but considering the world we live in, it’s way more believable,” the client countered. “But you’re different. You aren’t bound by their rules. You’re freelance and the two of you will be able to get to the bottom of this…. and to give me closure.”

He empathized with her distress. He’d be pleading for anyone to help him if he was powerless in finding Rokuro or Hiroshi, but his heart wasn’t in the right place. This private investigation business he started was losing its appeal it once had. Perhaps another invention would help cure his present mindset.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you, but we’re not accepting any cases on a scale this large at this time. Maybe in the near future, we can take another look at the case, but only if you…..” Goro tried to speak, but the woman interrupted him.

“A year ago, you put everything on the line, you know!?” she barked out, catching him by surprise. “You didn’t have any second thoughts about stopping an invasion, but now helping find a couple missing people is too much? Maybe I’m wasting my time.”

With a loud, almost cheering like noise, the stunned Goro turned to see Jet Jaguar lifting his right arm up and down repeatedly. He was shocked by Jet’s response, immediately being swayed by the point she brought up.

“Jet, are you actually interested in a case for once?” Goro asked his creation as Jet slammed his hands together, indicating he was up to anything that could be thrown at them.

“Anything over Patches, huh?” Goro chuckled, turning his head back to the now departing woman. She walked rapidly back to her car as Goro immediately let go of the door frame, giving chase. “Hey, wait up!”

She turned around to see the inventor catching up to her, reaching the bottom of the stairs. “What’s with the sudden change of heart?” she nearly mocked.

“Oh haha,” Goro sarcastically remarked. “Your little outburst impressed Jet over there.”

She turned to see the automaton traveling down the stairs with him keeping his focus on her. “So, I guess if any case can get him excited, it’s one that’s worth looking into.”

“Thank you, and you’ll be compensated greatly,” she added.

“So, you got a name?” the inventor asked.

“Chikako Miyasami,” the client answered with a smile on her face, excited she’ll finally get some closure to the situation that’s been plaguing her all this time.

“Ugh! If you told me I had to be cramped in a car with your robot, I would have spent an extra few thousand for a plane,” Chikako muttered, feeling her body nearly pressed against the dashboard as Jet Jaguar’s metallic body was pressing up against her seat.

“Hey. You were very adamant on doing this case as soon as possible, so this is what you get,” Goro retorted, nearly chuckling to himself at his client’s annoyance. He looked up at the dashboard mirror, seeing his son and subtly gave him a wink. Jet Jaguar quietly laughed in response while giving him one of his trademark thumbs up.

“Hey! Hey!” Chikako nearly roared out, taking notice of the two seemingly conspiring against her.

Goro howled in laughter while she leered at him, almost as if she were ready to pounce on him for his unprofessionalism toward his client. “Couldn’t your robot fly? Why does he have to sit in the car with us?”

“Absolutely, but he shares something in common with his old man; car rides,” Goro answered as Jet Jaguar beeped in excitement, to which the machinist smiled softly at its enthusiasm.

Chikako pondered the answer he gave her. It confused her, she couldn’t understand why someone would put so much attention and care to a machine like Jet Jaguar. She was already grateful for their help in finding herself, so she couldn’t take it for granted, however, this mere mindset could ultimately get in the way if things got dangerously dire.

She breathed out, not wanting to argue with him or his creation any further. “Fair enough, I suppose, but you think you can tell Jet to move back a tad.”

“Sure,” murmured Goro, looking at the mirror. Before he could even issue the request, Jet Jaguar slid slightly backward, allowing the much needed room Chikako needed, eliciting a huge sigh of relief.

“Much better,” Chikako purred, resting her head on the seat.

“Glad you feel better,” Goro spoke, putting foot on the brake and shifting the gear in park. “Because we’re here.”

“Great…..”

The three opened their respective doors and exited the vehicle, observing the town they were now in. A seemingly peaceful settlement, one that wasn’t out of the ordinary with the ocean’s waves being music to their ears, however, something felt eerie. They shared apprehensive glances at each other, taking their steps.

“Your sister tell you any particular places her and her friends frequent here?” inquired Goro, shifting his eyes between his client and the buildings surrounding them.

“First place we can maybe check up on is Dan and Anne’s cafe. She was raving about it over the phone,” motioned Chikako.

“Right, and perhaps a cup of coffee could help too,” Goro pointed out.

The three ventured into the nearby cafe, as it invoked a calming, warm atmosphere, immediately putting a tad more at ease. As inviting as it was with its appetizing looking pastries and soft looking seats, they couldn’t stay for long. They scurried over to someone maintaining the register, a young looking barista with long brown hair, with solemn looking expression painted on her face.

“One expresso, please. Two shots,” Goro spoke while the attendant simply nodded her head and gathered together his drink. The investigator leaned forward, speaking up once more, “Also, would you happen to know about a couple of girls who were out here on a corporate retreat? They were reported missing a bit ago.”

“I… recall seeing a couple people who were from out of town, but I can’t really say I know anything about them,” she answered, her voice nearly trembling.

“Are you sure? You sure you didn’t notice anything else about them?” Chikako cut in, her eyes meeting the attendant’s with a great deal of urgency.

“I did hear them mention something about going to Noto Island.”

“Noto Island?” Goro inquired, his eyes widening ever so slightly.

“Mhm,” the barista murmured in confirmation before continuing on. “It was suggested to them by the principal.”

“Principal?!” Chikako nearly blurted out, baffled at how a person with a profession could be talking to her sister, far older than one of a schoolgirl.

“Principal Kishida is… someone with a lot of influence here. He was able to convince them that it was not only a good idea for them to go, but essential for their vacation,” the barista clarified, her eyes then scanning nervously around the cafe as if she felt she was being watched.

Goro and Chikako glanced at each other momentarily, both of them feeling a sense of dread with the girl’s words, but most of all, confusion. The inventor spoke back up, “Why does he have a lot of influence here? Benefactor to the town or someone the kids look up to?”

“A bit of both, I suppose. Him and his wife, Madam Mika, have almost full say here,” she added, looking down at the counter as she shuffled the yen in her hand and began handing the change back to Goro.

“Are they dangerous, are they threateni….” Goro tried to speak out, but was interrupted by the attendant’s outburst. “Please don’t tell them I said anything!”

“It’s okay. We can protect you, we can…” he tried to reason, but was cut off once more.

“Get out!” she screamed out, forcing Chikako and Goro to step back while Jet Jaguar titled his head slightly in confusion.

The barista stepped out from the counter, her face boiling red with anger and fear, echoing the same words over and over again. “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

Goro and Chikako stepped out of the cafe with fear in their faces while Jet Jaguar simply followed, no longer paying the crazed woman any mind. Only ensuring he stayed by his creator and client’s side.

With a mighty slam following behind them, they heard the door lock as they stood there, trying to comprehend what just happened in a matter of minutes. Neither of them have never seen someone so angered and terrified.

Jet Jaguar raised his hands up and beeped, gaining their attention as Goro spoke “Yeah, seems like Noto Island is our best bet, if you want to believe her.”

“I mean, if it gets us to my sister, then we can’t waste it,” Chikako spoke, her voice piping up a bit, a new sense of hope forming a resurgence in her. They were on the right trail, even though things were already starting off quite strangely for them. Scary even.

“Yeah…. I guess we can’t. Just, uh, follow my lead and stay by Jet Jaguar,” Goro ordered, putting his hand on his chin contemplating the information given to them several minutes ago. “The two she mentioned. The principal and the Madam. Why only titles? What could invoke such fear in a person?”

“Perhaps, and most importantly, a thought, but what if we didn’t find out, and instead found my sister?” Chikako inquired, nearly trembling, but kept her composure clear.

“Yeah, right. Let’s get to it, then,” Goro spoke, as the three made their trek toward the nearest ferry they could find. Normally, he would like to investigate every aspect he could to get the full story, but a lot of things are really making him want to follow his client’s suggestion.

“Dammit, Jet! Why didn’t you just want to grab Patches instead?” Goro mentally cursed, lifting his feet up toward their destination as their investigation was only just beginning.

Goro gripped both of his hands onto a railing of the ship transporting them toward Noto Island. He felt uneasy from the thick, murky fog masking their entire surroundings aside from a few feet, to how nearly every citizen in the town was acting very peculiar. Compared to Chikako, he was able to keep it under control as he noticed from the corner of his eye, she was moving up and down, almost as if she was bouncing. He took a deep breath in, taking some comfort into knowing he wasn’t the only one having doubts about this whole investigation.

The inventor turned toward his client, eliciting the words, “Hey, you doing okay?”

Her teeth chattered while she shifted her head toward him. “Yeah…. be..better than ever.”

“It’s fine to be scared,” Goro mouthed out, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Hell, I’m a bit on edge, too.”

“Of course, of course. Yeah, be weird if you weren’t,” replied Chikako, breathing in and out.

“It’s not much, but I have Jet blanketing the body of water with his high beams. We’ll at least get a moment’s notice if something happens,” explained the creator, giving her a smile in an attempt to comfort her.

“Better than nothing, I suppose.”

Goro placed his hands on the rail once more, looking directly into the deep fog. The information they acquired just hours before wasn’t substantial, but it did provide them in the right direction. As he had repeated to himself, he did not like this one bit. Still, they had to see this through, even if they had no idea what they would encounter.

The ship’s horn blared as the craft landed at the dock. The vessel slightly shook as the two nearly lost their footing, but kept their hold on the rail firm. Goro turned over to his client once more and asked, “You ready for the moment of truth?”

“As better time as any,” Chikako breathed out, turning around as they departed and made their way from the ship and onto the body of land before them. The wood on the dock creaked with every step they took. Both of them cringed as an eerie noise made their skin crawl. The fog was slightly lifted, but still as blinding as ever, forcing Chikako to place her hand onto Goro’s shoulder, ensuring that they would not get separated.

Jet Jaguar lit the path in front of them, giving them some aid to their investigation. “Even with Jet’s light, I’m just not sure how useful the map they gave us will be,” Goro explained, scanning the ground as the whole floor felt very wet, as if a downpour had just occurred moments ago.

“I hope your robot can pick something up,” she muttered, moving her feet through the sticky landscape.

“Would you like me to regale in how he found Megalon in seconds or my car keys after Rokuro threw them in a field?” joked Goro, keeping himself close to his client, not wanting to take any chances of being separated in this very unknown terrain.

“A fair point, I suppose,” mouthed the client as the three continued their slow trek through the island. With some stumbly and even close calls with unpleasant landings from tripping over hidden branches, their search was proving fruitless.

BEEP!

Both immediately snapped their heads to their robotic companion, seeing it wave its arms around. Jet Jaguar shifted its hands downard, pointing at several objects by its feet. The two rushed over to it and began inspecting several of the items.

Goro inspected a piece of clothing, a torn long-sleeved red shirt white polka dots on it. What he saw completely shocked him, claw marks as if this person was attacked by a large animal. His stomach turned to knots, he repeated it to himself.

Everything about this place terrified him.

He shuffled over to Chikako, readying to drag her out of here, but then she blurted out, “I see something!”

The inventor was immediately stopped as his client leaned over to pick up an object that ever so slightly shined. Its tiny light being the one beacon in this unseeable terrain. She rubbed it softly as her eyes were filled with sorrow while her mouth curved slightly upward.

“This was Minami’s,” Chikako whispered, keeping eyes peeled on the tiny necklace. Her thumb moved out of the way to reveal a silver cross to Goro’s eyes.

“Chikako, I’m so sorry…. but we have to get out of here,” Goro announced, picking himself back up, preparing for the worst. “Whatever tore into this clothing is not natural.”

“We’re leaving now!?” Chikako busted out, jumping up. “Your goddamn robot can handle whatever wild animal comes at us! There’s still time to find out what happened and my sister can be alive!”

Goro placed his hands on her shoulders. “If I were in your position, I’d say the same thing, but I wouldn’t go ahead and risk the lives of everyone. We have to leave now!”

“Dammit! No!” Chikako shrieked out, ripping his hands off of her as she turned around only for Jet Jaguar to grab a hold on her. She gritted her teeth while her hands started banging on the robot’s metallic exterior, but it was all for naught. It didn’t not budge as it kept its grip firm.

“Tell your robot to let go!” she snapped, as Goro had a solemn look on his face.

“I’m so sorry. At the very least, we can head back if conditions are better, but we can’t risk everything based on a hunch.”

She grunted as she tried to fight its hold on her, while the robot immediately began to carry her back to where they docked from. However, before they could make it very far, a loud yell was heard followed by a few rocks falling down. Sensing an immediate danger to its creator and client, Jet Jaguar released Chikako and snapped a hundred and eighty degrees, its lights at full power, scanning the area.

It was only for a brief moment, but all three of them saw a person running by. One covered in dirt and their clothing ruptured as if they had worn it for years or had been attacked by a wild animal.

“It must be one of them! We have to go!” Chikako deduced, immediately taking off toward the person. She didn’t care if she got lost, it was better than to risk being restrained by them again.

“Crap!” Goro yelled out. On one hand, what they saw could have spelled more trouble for them; but on the other, it could give them answers they were searching for. Though he didn’t want anyone dying on his watch. “Jet, we have to go after them.”

Jet Jaguar beeped as they picked up their feet, only to hear an ear-piercing shriek off from the distance. For a sound that seemed like it was a considerable distance away, it caused Goro to stop for a moment, covering his ears from the paralyzing scream.

“And get out before we find out what the hell that thing is,” Goro continued as both creator and creation bolted after their client.

He tripped, losing balance as his bare chest bumped against the rugged overgrowth that sprawled under his feet. Using the thick roots as support, the primitive man sprinted into action, weaving through the dense forestry with agility comparable to a professional athlete. For he knew death drew near, but he had to oblige.

Ducking at the last moment, razor talons swooped from the thick mist, giving him only a mere second to react. If it hadn’t been for his maneuverability, ripped flesh and fresh blood would have fallen victim to the dripping claws of an insatiable demon. The loiterer heard the crunching of footsteps following his trail, at least a pair. He couldn’t stop for a number of reasons, so he had to push on.

The ragged man again tripped and stumbled in his feeble escape, trying to outrun the gluttonous shrieks of the flying demon. The feral man turned and dared to glance behind him and saw his pursuer stalk him from the skies. Its gaunt and putrid form parted its triangular mandibles, baring its serrated fangs and bloodstained drool to satiate its endless hunger.

The hairless neanderthal scurried through the wet mud, trying to shuffle through in order to put distance between them. But such futile efforts would prove to be for naught in the face of a ravenous vulture, so he brought his hands to his face to cover the inevitable onslaught…

…Until a metal man sidelined the monstrous ghoul with a flying dropkick, hurling the winged mass into the dense foliage. Large cedars snapped where the wicked avian’s body collided against their trunks, splintering and falling over their own weight. Branches snagged with other branches, pulling the once rooted trees with them as they keeled over.

The man-beast gaped in awe. So there was a third here? He grunted at the metallic man, panting heavily from the exhaustive marathon. Jet Jaguar gently landed and gave him a thumbs up, assuring that things would be all right. In a panicked yell, the dirty human pointed to where the predator was, though Jet Jaguar was more than ready for it. With a hellish shriek, the monster bird lunged toward the robotic warrior with a flap of its bat-like wings, shoving its entire body against the metal man.

The sheer force from the dracul was countered in equal measure by the resistance the electronic machine withstood. Steel fingers caught the voracious, gaping maw, each extension wedged between the lines of serrated teeth, mustering all of his strength to hold the monstrous abomination back. Much to Jet’s surprise, the tensile strength for an organic creature proved to be quite remarkable, daresay even comparable to his own. Drool splattered against the smiling robot’s visage, the reptilian hawk shrieking in a starving rage as it continued to push to tear off his armor plating. However, using its own force against it, Jet Jaguar pushed away and drove the hostile into the muddy earth, carving a trail in its wake.

Quick on its reflexes, the pterosaur-like beast twisted and landed on its legs and wing-arms, skidding to a halt. With another blaring trill, the unnatural organism hauled toward the triumphant hero, eager to rend him limb from limb. But in a moment’s notice, Jet Jaguar’s high beams amplified and pierced through the thick mist, blinding the horrid ghoul under its tremendous light. A violent, vitriolic scream resounded from its triangular maw, unconsciously pushing the fiend back against the bark of a pine tree, scraping against it.

Sprinting at full speed, Jet Jaguar delivered a swift and powerful gut-punch to the barbaric harpy, followed up by another equally strong punch. The ghastly predator puked digestive fluid and blood, coating Jet under a foul, viscous slathering of unwanted paint. Though he was not prone to smell like humans, his programmed dictated it was best to put some distance between them, so he did.

The two glared at each other–with Jet Jaguar motioning the grueling carnivore to bring it on.

From afar, the feral man watched the unfolding fight. He was enamored by the skill the robot man displayed, keeping toe to toe with the vicious animal before him. But he knew he couldn’t stay; for it would prolong the purpose he was sent here for. Rustling of foliage caught the wild caveman, who picked up the pace the moment the pair emerged from the bushes.

“Wait! Hold on!” Goro called out, but was promptly ignored. The inventor felt a mixed sensation of swelling frustration and stricken panic as the bizarre situation revealed itself, all with more questions than answers. But he knew if they didn’t keep pace with the untamed individual, there would be no chance of figuring out the first piece to this mystery.

For a moment, Goro allowed himself to look at Jet Jaguar. His technological prodigy he viewed no differently than a son; he wanted to shout words of encouragement. But between the sickening sight of the beast before Jet and its unknown capabilities, he pressed his lips shut. In his heart, he was screaming at the top of his lungs for Jet’s victory.

He and Chikako skipped across the mushy soil and bulging roots, struggling to keep pace with the cloth-torn hermit. But one misstep was all it took for the two of them to trip over their own feet, crashing against the bark and mud as they clutched their sprained ankles. While it proved to be nothing too severe, it did greatly hinder their progress.

“Gah, someone should’ve paved a path,” Chikako moaned, trying to pull herself to her feet. Goro took in a deep breath before likewise pushing himself off the ground. “Something I think we can both agree on,” Goro added.

“I think we lost him,” she sighed, recuperating with heavy breaths. Goro wanted nothing more than to verbally vent his frustrations, but didn’t want to garner that thing’s attention. He let his scrambled mind recalibrate, trying not to give in to the heat of the moment.

“There’s no way he could’ve gotten that far,” he noted, “I’m sure we’ll find something eventually. Not much land to cover on a small island.” If nothing else, pointing out the obvious was more for his sake than her’s, to keep the information they knew in check.

Before they could move, the crumpling of bushes caught their attention, only to see the man-beast come into view…

The clash of metal and flesh continued, both combatants equally skilled in dexterity and raw power. Each chop from Jet Jaguar’s metallic hands was countered by a vicious bite from the wicked avian, scraping against his exoskeleton. This was no doubt far worse than any Patches case he’d ever been on; one that would require more than just a mere paint job to cover up.

Pressing his heels into the wet earth, Jet leapt into the sky and took flight, hovering above the treeline. He knew full well that if he didn’t put a stop to it here, countless more would have to suffer from its insatiable appetite, but he had to account for the safety of Goro and the others with him. Maybe he could bait it to a more open space and crush it with his might…

Unfolding his antennae, Jet Jaguar sped off in hopes the malicious buzzard would chase him. With a glance, he saw the disgusting monstrosity in hot pursuit, just as he anticipated. But much to his surprise, the winged creature dipped under the treeline, gradually falling until it lazily crashed on its limbs. The vile demon hacked and retched, thrashing its frame against the thick bark of large trees. Even the attempt at paralyzing it with his high beams didn’t do the trick, seemingly agitating it further. Such a sight was repulsive to witness and hard to stomach. Had he not been a machine, no doubt in his mind that would have keeled over already.

Just then, a high-pitched ringing overloaded his senses. Notifications and mathematical sequencing determined it to be a hyper-frequency vibration, though such an irregular occurrence happening here was impossible. When he found the origin point, it became a source of concern. Concentrated sound waves coalesced in the creature’s angled maw, shining in a brilliant light. The more it pulled in, the more intense the oscillations became, even with the largest of trees quaking in fear. Jet Jaguar felt his metal skin and internal components judder, ushering a rising worry to the forefront of his electronic brain. With growing intensity, Jet felt his systems acting up on him, his body not responding to his direction as he fell into the dense forestry below…

“Excuse me, we need to know if–” before Goro could even complete his statement to the mysterious figure, a high-pitched ring had the three of them clutching their ears. Their yelps and screams melded together under the ever-increasing volume, thumping their eardrums to no tomorrow. It seemed the hairy caveman was holding out the best among them, but even so it clearly afflicted him all the same.

Just… What is that? Goro questioned, trying to deduce this sudden turn of events.

Planting his silver shoe-like feet into the mud, Jet held together by an imaginary strand, leaning against a tree for support. Then, with a violent scream from the dracul, a hypercondensed laser spurted from the creature’s maw, and the glass lenses of Jet Jaguar’s eyes cracked.

The only thing he could do was duck.

The golden beam scalped the thick trunks effortlessly, toppling the magnificent structures of nature. Such a weapon only clipped the utmost tip of Jet Jaguar’s cranium, flattening his once pointed head into a clean stump. The supersonic trail cleaved the logs in half, as if made from brittle paper, circling around the dense forest.

Off in the distance, Chikako noticed the golden light pierce through the fog and screamed. Goro turned and his face grew pale at the sight, barely able to process what was going on. An illuminating force became more intense the closer it got, so too did the magnified frequency. The cloudy fog warped from its intense output, leaving little room to imagine what would happen if someone was caught in the middle of it.

Much to their surprise, Goro and Chikako felt themselves forced to the ground by powerful hands. Their gasps were cut short as their mouths filled with mud, with only their deductive reasoning being able to determine who pushed them down. As the stray human stood over them, he tried to hurriedly join them below.

But it was a moment too late.

The beastial man hollered in an agonizing shriek. Though he dove under, his left arm had been caught in the crossfire, lobbed off from the shoulder. Bright red blood sprayed from the wound, staining the dark brown mud with his bodily fluids. The arm flew far off, sailing the air until it cracked against a fallen tree trunk.

Chikako’s muffled cries of terror left her mouth in an indiscernible screech, horrified at the sight before her. Goro was likewise stunned at what had just transpired, shocked to find their mystery person save their skins at the cost of his own safety. Scanning their surroundings, Goro checked if that was the last of the deadly laser; fortunately for them, it seemed like it was, at least for the time being.

“Come on, we have to find a place to hide!” Goro yelled, clearly shaken and jittery. Chikako wanted to retort, but she couldn’t find it in herself to do it. She was also rattled, and they needed to find a place. Fast. Trying to suppress the reality of what happened, Chikako and Goro mounted their courageous personas and hauled the one-armed man to… Anywhere that wasn’t here.

All the while, a warring scream carved into Mother Nature, declaring its dreadful superiority over all those that dared challenge it.

Nothing stood a chance at resisting its gaping might, for every tree had been sliced so cleanly, not a splinter remained; for every stone cut in twain, its reflective, smooth surface was revealed; for every animal that fled in panic, they found themselves gutted and disemboweled by the furious golden lance, which left no prisoners. Turning it to the sky, the sonic scalpel tore through the thick fog, displaying its power for all to see. Then, one minute after the destructive endeavor began, the beam of light dissipated.

The monstrous fiend stood slackjawed, its serrated maw hung wide open. Almost instinctively, the winged claws scratched an irritating itch on its neck, one that never went away. This itch, this urge, compelled the bringer of disaster to return. Though it mentally fought vigorously to consume the dead, the sensation became overwhelming to the point where the gluttonous vulture simply complied, vanishing in the midst of the fog…

Creaking from under heavy trees, Jet Jaguar summoned every ounce of strength he could muster, dislodging the fallen logs off of him. He turned on his high beams to see through the mist, only for flickering sparks to kill his light source. He felt his cranium to assess the damages; and indeed, the tip of his head had been compromised. In addition, he felt the tips of the antennae had been lost as well. To affirm this to be the case, Jet stretched his arms out and jumped.

He only landed on his feet.

No high beams, no flight… Though everything else in his operating systems seemed functional enough to carry on. Even in his crippled state, he recalled where Goro and Chikako had last been–then he would track them down from there.

Meanwhile, the trio felt the weighing exhaustion overtake them. They shuffled their feet across the thick roots and sloshing mud, rummaging through shrubbery in hopes the carnivorous predator wouldn’t seek them out. They couldn’t muster a word out, for they were still dwelling on the fight that had just taken place. Every time they breathed in, not a word came out.

Goro lost track of time after a bit. He wasn’t sure how far inland they were, where Jet Jaguar was, or the fate of that vile monstrosity. So much nerve-wracking experiences in what felt like the last five minutes, he was still struggling through it all.

Then, another set of feet clacked against the tree roots. Goro and Chikako were in a panic, unsure of what to do next. That was, until the figure stepped into visible view.

“Woah! Woah!” a high pitched voice called out, as they saw a red head woman with glasses running over toward them. Her white lab coat bounced left and right as she stopped a few feet in front of him. “Easy with him. He’s very, very valuable to me.”

Goro tried to speak up, but the new arrival pushed him aside as she began to inspect. The mangled boy flinched at her probing as she primarily examined his stump. She tapped at the stub, eliciting a groan from the feral human, but kept still.

“Fascinating. So much more progression,” she noted intently, rubbing her hands on his battered arm.

Goro and Chikako briefly glanced over to each before turning their attention back on the woman that had just appeared. They were both baffled by the woman’s behavior at how she didn’t seem to mind the battle that had just taken place moments before or the vile creature itself. All she did was focus on the stoic boy, who himself, was an anomaly. Hardly any pain or any reaction from the loss of a limb.

“What the hell is he?” Goro finally spoke out loud in astonishment, feeling a washing relief overcome him.

The question caused the woman to snap her head at the inventor with a seemingly proud smile on her face. “That, mister Goro Ibuki, is Frankenstein! The next step in our evolution.”

He couldn’t believe it!

Frankenstein!

Goro had heard the stories of such an incredible creature. How his heart survived an atom bomb and grew into a full giant from it. Such a creature should not exist!

“How… how is he still here? He’s been gone for a good decade!” Goro hollered out in shock, his legs nearly giving out at seeing a creation he not only admired, but felt disgust at the methods used to create him, standing in front of him.

“You’re a smart man, Goro. You know of the legends,” the scientist spoke proudly. “Frankenstein is immortal. Not even the depths of the Earth could contain him forever.”

“Hold on!” Chikako spoke out loud, stepping in front of the group. “Who are you and how do you know all of this?”

“Of course. Where are my manners?” she spoke, putting her hand on her chest. “I am Victoria Frankenstein. A descendant of Victor Frankenstein.”

“You…. are a part of the Frankenstein bloodline?” Goro nearly spat out in astonishment. His works, while cruel, were a major inspiration to him. He hated his methods, but always dreamed of helping make the world a better place with his creation. He stood in awe, meeting a descendant of his was almost a dream come true.

“I see you’re quite impressed,” Victoria hummed in satisfaction over seeing her new acquaintance overjoyed.

“Very, but there’s still several missing people unaccounted for and….” Goro tried to explain, but was cut off by Victoria.

“They’re dead.”

Chikako’s stomach dropped by what she said. She couldn’t and didn’t want to believe it. The scientist had to be wrong. She stepped forward, “How do you know? They could just be lost! There’s still so much of this island left unaccounted for.”

“I’m sorry, but if the Gyaos hadn’t gotten to them, then the fog or the heavy rain would have trapped them,” Victoria retorted.

“No. Until we find a body, I refuse to believe she’s gone!” roared Chikako, refusing to take her word on the matter. She came all this way and barely survived an attack by the winged beast, she wasn’t going to give up now.

“Suit yourself,” Victoria simply mouthed, not caring whether the girl believed her or not, but that wasn’t on her mind at the moment. “However, this isn’t the place nor the time to debate it. It’ll be night soon and the Gyaos will be making its rounds again, and I doubt your robot will be able to fend it off.”

“Well, then, what do you propose we do?” inquired Goro, helping Victoria support the wounded Frankenstein.

“There’s a castle nearby that keeps them at bay. We’ll be safe there for the night,” Victoria answered, turning the group around toward the direction of the structure.

“Chikako?” Goro asked, wanting her opinion on the matter regarding the choices before them.

She huffed, annoyed at having to give up the search, but dropped her shoulders. “I guess we have no choice, but first thing tomorrow, we resume the search, okay?”

“Agreed,” Goro complied, assuring her.

“I’ll be glad to help you out as well and so will Franky! Isn’t that right?” Victoria asked the boy as he simply grunted.

“Splendid!” She hollered out as she began to lead the way toward the castle, all of them staying close together. Before they could move any further, shuffling bushes caught their attention, though Goro had an inclination on who it was. Jet Jaguar emerged from the foliage, his once angular cranium chipped to a flattened stump. Otherwise, he seemed just as friendly as ever with that large, slitted grin.

“Jet, my god…” Goro uttered in disbelief as he assessed the damages. No doubt he had his work cut out for him the moment they returned home. “Can you lead?” Goro asked. Jet Jaguar responded with a thumbs up as he tried to activate his high beams, though could barely maintain it.

“Better than nothing, I suppose.” Goro scratched the back of his head, following behind his creation with the others in tow.

Their passage to the castle was brief, but left the visitors very uneasy. Everything about their surroundings was murky, far more so than when they first landed. Jet’s high beams were barely functioning as they were flickering off and on, as Goro mused at how he would have to fix them as soon as possible. The cackles of the Gyaos could still be heard echoing throughout the forest. Even if they had Jet Jaguar and Frankenstein to help fend them off, it didn’t inspire much confidence in Goro or Chikako.

Thankfully, their fears would dissipate when Victoria’s cheerful voice burrowed into their ears. “We’re here!”

As if on cue, the fog subsided, revealing a dark and intimidating castle. Before them a drawbridge was lowered down by an unseen force, granting them passage into the fortress. Torches hanging on the walls all around erupted into flames, creating an orangish hue, granting the new arrivals the much needed light they needed to see. Without having to be ordered to do so, Jet Jaguar shut off his beams and scanned the area with the new light source.

Not a soul in sight and yet, it was if they were being expected. The guests walked through the courtyard, expecting themselves to be marveled by the beauty of it, with a giant fountain in the middle, lush green grass all over and cobblestone paths, creating several paths for different destinations.

They marched up the stairs leading to the giant doors for the castle, but before Victoria could even knock, they opened up. She glanced back at her guests and smiled. “Guess, they don’t like it when I knock.”

“Uh-huh,” Goro simply muttered, still feeling uneasy about the situation as he reluctantly stepped inside.

Even with their doubts and fears plaguing them, they couldn’t help but be impressed by what greeted them inside. Two sets of stairs on both sides of the entrance, curving upward toward the second floor, with a bronze railing stretching out on the paths. Red carpet covering the floors as they met with several shelves of books and a variety of well decorated antiques. Some neither Goro or Chikako could even begin to describe.

“It’s semi-cozy…. at least,” Chikako commented, moving her eyes rapidly around the points of interest in the lobby.

“That’s the spirit!” Victoria cheered once more, patting her on the back.

“A little too dark for my tastes,” Goro critiqued.

“In a sense, I agree, but it’s not up to me,” the scientist replied, shrugging her shoulders.

“This isn’t your house?” the inventor inquired, turning his attention fully to her.

“Nope!”

“Since you are so curious,” a calming, yet powerful voice spoke up from the second floor, immediately gaining everyone’s attention. Frankenstein slightly snarled at the perpetrator, but with a slight touch from Victoria, he stood down, but kept an ever so watchful eye on the shadow.

“It is mine,” a living shadow announced, removing his veil of darkness with every step. He was well dressed, with an appearance that would make anyone admire him. His black suit ensured it kept everyone’s attention on him while it also countered his very pale skin pigment.

Nonetheless, he offered a smile at his new guests, ushering in a warm welcome to them. “Victoria, who are these guests of yours?”

“Chikako Miyasami and Goro Ibuki, they….” Victoria attempted to introduce, but was cut off by the man.

“Mister Ibuki, it is quite the honor to have you standing in my home.”

The head of the household offered his hand toward Goro as he slowly shook his hand. “Thank you, mister….”

“Kishida,” he answered, eliciting Goro’s eyes to widen and his stomach to turn to knots.

“This was him! The man she warned them about.”

“Shit….” Goro whispered out.

“What was that?” Kishida voiced out, his gaze getting more intense at the inventor.

“Nothing… my apologies. Just had a rough landing on this island,” Goro answered, desperately trying to stir the conversation back toward the guise of a pleasant beginning.

“It’s true, sir. We really did have a bad start here, but thankfully, your friend here came to help us!” Chikako stepped in, covering for her investigator while Victoria simply smiled at her acquaintance thanking her.

Kishida stared at them for a few moments longer before relinquishing his suspicions. “Of course. I deeply apologize for any inconvenience the three of you had over the course of your stay. The island is normally a peaceful paradise. Part of the reason why my wife and I moved here.”

“Well then, I’d hope to see it in its natural beauty,” Chikako spoke up, trying to keep the conversation going.

“As do we,” Kishida simply councurred, before gazing at the robot standing next to his creator. “And this must be the famous Jet Jaguar I’ve heard so much about.”

The host stepped upward and examined him. Jet Jaguar slightly tilted his head at the host, seemingly agitated by how close he was getting, but no one except Goro could tell. The inventor motioned for Jet to go along as he slightly nodded his head.

“You got yourself a brilliant assistant here, mister Ibuki,” Kisihida complemented, turning his attention back to Goro.

“Thank you, but I wouldn’t call him an assistant, more or less, an important person in my life,” Goro countered, stepping toward his creation.

“Ah, not the answer I expected or one I’d agree with, but who am I to judge?” The host vocalized, turning his attention toward Victoria. “Have your pet show them where they’ll be staying for the night and bring them down soon after for the feast.”

“As you wish,” Victoria acknowledged before turning toward Frankenstein with a more hostile tone in her voice. “Do as you’re told.”

Frankenstein cowered slightly, his body shaking slightly, but enough for the guests to see, eliciting sympathy from them. They didn’t know the boy very well, but amongst the other things that intimidated them, the treatment he had gotten made them sick.

The disfigured boy limped toward the ascending stairs, turning his attention back at them. “This… way…. follow…”

Chikako was about to speak up on the revelation of the boy being able to speak, but Goro motioned for her not to. He knew there was a time and a place for it, but now was not the time as they simply decided to play along for now. The three followed Frankenstein up the stairs and toward their respective rooms as Kishida and Victoria watched them disappear from their line of sight.

“Thank you for the gifts, Victoria,” he spoke, smiling deviously at the plans he had for his guests.

Hours passed as the clouds darkened. Torches spontaneously lit up the many hallways, allowing Victoria to escort the guests toward the dinner hall for a feast. Despite the few hours of pause they received, it wasn’t enough for Goro to fully repair Jet Jaguar. The high beam functions were back to being operational, but the flight systems required more than a basic tuneup.

Jet Jaguar beeped, throwing his hands up as Goro shook his head. “Yes, yes, I know! The flight systems will have to wait.”

“Poor fella, I understand what it’s like not to have your creation at full capacity,” Victoria deliberated, glancing ever so slightly at disgust at the still healing Frankenstein walking beside them. “It’s probably for the best, though. The Gyaos is very active at this time of night and will easily carve your robot into pieces.”

“Right… well I think Jet could outrun them. He did catch up to Megalon and Gigan quite easily,” Goro countered, patting Jet on the shoulder proudly.

“A fair point, but Gyaos is far more cunning than two bumbling space monsters, and besides, they were already weakened by Godzilla,” Victoria brought up, opening the doors to the hall, revealing a large wooden black table with blood red seats.

“Ah, please enjoy the festivities!” Kisihida welcomed, raising a glass filled with red liquid inside as the three took their seats while Frankenstein limped over to the window nearby, awaiting his master’s next order.

All the while Jet Jaguar scanned the area and made a long beep toward their host. Kishida was puzzled by Goro’s creation and why it was trying to get his attention. “Mister Ibuki, care to explain to me why your robot is trying to get my attention.”

“Oh, apologies,” Goro softly spoke, setting his utensils down. “Jet wishes to sit at the table with us.”

The host raised his eyebrow at the odd request. “And why would it want to sit at the table?”

“More or less my influence, I suppose. It makes him a part of my family,” answered Goro.

“Then you will forgive me if that could not happen as I do not allow such accommodations to be made for creations,” Kishida dismissed as Jet Jaguar tightened his fist in anger over the decision, but Goro motioned for him not to act on them. The size-changing robot reluctantly complied as he went over to stand in front of the opposing wall of where Frankenstein stood.

Heels echoed throughout the castle as everyone turned to see the source belonging to a beautiful woman dressed in a long white dress with black draping down past her shoulders. She smiled at the participants as Kishida returned the gesture and approached her.

“This is my wife, Mika,” he introduced while Chikako’s eyes widened at Goro.

The hosts exchanged a brief kiss as they seated themselves at the table, allowing the feast to begin. Chikako reached for the ladle to pour soup in her bowl, but was stopped by the lumbering Frankenstein. He snatched the spoon from her as she was about to protest at his sudden rudeness, but only began to realize what he was doing.

His arm shook slightly as he dumped the liquid into her bowl, spilling some of its contents on the table and even on some of her clothes. Frankenstein immediately realized what had just happened as he dropped down to the ground, beginning to wipe the mess away.

He couldn’t face her, but he stuttered either from having a hard time pronouncing the word or far too imitated by the repercussions of his mistake. “Sor…. sorry.”

“You should be sorry!” Victoria raised her voice, getting up from her seat. “How many times will it take for you to perform even the simplest of tasks correctly!?”

“Woah! It’s okay!” Chikako spoke up, standing as she was concerned about what was about to happen to the boy. “It was a simple mistake. I’m sure it’s a simple fix.”

Frankenstein stared up at her, confused by her response. Memories briefly flashed at how a similar woman treated him with kindness as they only became more apparent when she turned to him.

Chikako smiled as she slowly grabbed the bowl from him. “I really appreciate what you have done for me. Thank you.”

The immortal child’s mouth quivered, he didn’t know how to process the exchange of dialogue. He slowly stood up, he wanted to say something, but couldn’t as the memories from what can only be from a time long ago sparked once more.

Victoria rolled her eyes while she sat back down, not believing in this kind of behavior the guest was displaying toward her family’s creation. “Go stand by the wall.”

Frankenstein simply nodded as he wobbled toward the wall, but not before he mouthed “Thank…. Thank you.”

Jet Jaguar observed the interaction. Shaking his head slightly, he felt sympathy for the child, yet relieved at how Goro never abused him. He looked at Victoria, feeling disgusted by her behavior. If he could glare, he would immediately keep that expression on her at all times, but alas, it was not the face he was born with.

“I have to say…. Victoria, don’t you think you’re being a bit too harsh on Frankenstein?” inquired Goro after taking a bite from his meal.

“Not at all!” Victoria brushed off. “What I’m doing is shaping him up to be the best he could be.”

“By berating him over the smallest of mistakes?” countered Goro, raising an eyebrow at her.

“Correcting is more like it,” Victoria cut in, brushing her mouth with a napkin. “You see, Goro, we’re both scientists with creations at our disposal. One of metal and one of flesh. We both have our methods, some result in the better specimen, which is mine. However, we both took the journey to surpass God and succeeded.”

“Surpassing God? That was never my intention with Jet Jaguar,” Goro replied more sternly, anger slowly building up in his voice.

“Maybe not, but you’ve done it all the same. You created a being similar to how God created or how Prometheus molded us from clay. Pick your belief, but the point remains. We’re both like them. They’re one in the same and we’re the exact same.”

“Gods,” Victoria proclaimed.

Goro’s hands shook, his stomach rattled. He couldn’t believe what she was trying to convey.

“Gods!?”

“Creating Jet Jaguar to surpass God was never my reason for creating him!” Goro barked, as he almost stood up, but felt himself restrained by the gentle touch of Chikako. He slightly nodded at her in appreciation, before resting back in his seat.

“Whatever your reason may be, even if you wanted a surrogate son of sorts or however you wanted to justify it, you played God. We’re one in the same you and I,” Victoria countered, watching the fellow scientist’s reaction starting to eat away at him. She didn’t know if he was slowly realizing she was right or was breaking down from it all, but Victoria knew she was getting to him. It would all be a matter of time soon, one of two options just had to present themselves first.

“Perhaps you’re being a bit too harsh on your creation, Victoria,” Kishida countered. “While he’s far from the ideal worker, he has been instrumental in assisting us.”

“Frankenstein is a valued member of our household,” Mika chimed in, briefly smiling at the boy.

“Why, yes, of course he is, but still could use some refinement,” Victoria simply countered, slightly glaring at Frankenstein.

“I’m sorry,” Goro spoke, throwing his napkin down over his plate. “I can’t really feel the need to continue this conversation, much less be a part of this meal.”

He got up and excused himself as he walked out of the hall as both Jet Jaguar and Chikako followed him. Neither one of them felt comfortable staying in the room without him. Only the four occupants remained as Kishida turned his attention toward Victoria.

“A word please.”

“So, how was a simple debate with Ibuki a major problem? Explain that to me, please?” Victoria bursted out, nearly throwing her hands against several beakers.

“For such a genius, you sure do not think ahead,” Kishida sternly replied, walking down the stairs toward the crowded yet intricate laboratory Victoria had set up in his basement.

“I suppose the same could be said of you as well. At any moment you could have just set the Gyaos or Frankenstein to eliminate them and acquire the robot,” she barked, flipping on a light as she inspected a large egg underneath.

“You forget that I need them intact for mine and my wife’s transition,” countered the vampire.

“Of course, how could I forget? Your bi-yearly surgery to make sure no one storms the castle for all of the murders,” the mad scientist shut the light off and placed the egg underneath a well protected dome. “Even though there’s no reason for secrecy anymore. I provided you with a Gyaos specimen and converted ghouls from the town.”

“An army will only get you so far, but a face like Ibuki can give me much more. Influence from the hero who helped repel an invasion,” Kishida proudly proclaimed before glaring at Victoria. He was getting fed up with her recent behavior, her constant requests. Had she not been so useful, he would have had her eliminated long ago. Yet, he would have to make do for the time being.

“You’ll have his face, but not his intellect. Only Ibuki knows the secrets of that robot,” retaliated Victoria, stepping from the station, approaching her client.

“Which is why you’ll get it from him, and after that we will conduct the swap,” Kishida spoke, putting his hands together.

“On the condition you finally uphold your end of the bargain. I can’t remain in this state and continue my search,” bargained Victoria, getting fed up with Kishida and Mika’s constant delay in their arrangement. She wanted to see him dead, but needed him alive a bit longer. Once she gets what she wanted, she’d let Frankenstein have a bit of fun.

“And you will get it, provided you come through,” Kishida retaliated, his voice nearly booming.

Victoria concocted a small smile, thinking how insulting it would be to Dracula for someone, who thought so highly of himself, to be torn apart by a neanderthal. Of course she disguised the nature of her smile with the agreement in place.

“As you wish, my lord,” Victoria softly spoke, feigning an end to the argument, as Kishida simply nodded, taking his leave from the laboratory. Once he left, she looked over at Frankenstein and ordered, “Stay in the shadows and watch the rooms our guests are in. Attack when I give the go ahead.”

Frankenstein slowly grumbled as he hung his head down, pulling his fully healed arm off a station. He lumbered upward with thoughts of confliction in his head. The boy obeyed only to keep himself from harm’s way, but the memories flashed once more in his head. Those guests reminded him of those he started to cherish all those years. The kindness they showered him with.

He didn’t know how things would proceed, but whatever route would be chosen, it would only cause him nothing but pain.

Peace wasn’t an option.

“Goro, are you doing okay?” Chikako asked, worriedly watching the inventor pace back and forth. He didn’t respond, but kept moving around as she looked over to Jet Jaguar. “Does he do this often?”

Jet Jaguar simply shrugged his shoulders, causing her to scoff. “Well, you’re no help.”

She approached him, wanting to do what she could to help him as he had done the same for her. Chikako placed a hand on his shoulder, causing him to stop. “Goro, if this is about the argument earlier, you don’t need to get so worked up. That scientist is clearly out of her mind and….”

“It’s not a matter of being a scientist, but what she said about me ‘playing god!’” Goro nearly burst out, but contained himself, taking a moment to breathe. “Look, it may sound crazy to you, but Jet Jaguar is more than just an invention. He’s a part of my legacy and my….”

“He’s more important than the world to you,” Chikako finished for him.

“Yeah…. one of three,” Goro nearly choked up, as the room fell silent. The three occupants stood silently, waiting for one of them to continue when Jet Jaguar stepped up to his father. He placed his hand on Goro’s shoulder and offered the other to him.

The inventor smiled softly, slowly taking hand and shaking it. “You are the best of me.”

Jet Jaguar let go of his hand and gave him a thumbs up, eliciting a chuckle from Goro and Chikako. Despite any disagreements or arguments the two may have had, Jet loved his father and was grateful for the life he had given him. From right to wrong, he always had someone there for him and the same would be returned to Goro as well.

He had what he wanted, but there was still a job to finish as he turned back toward Chikako and unleashed a beep. Chikako stared at him, confused at what he was trying to say. “Uh….. what’s going on?”

“He’s saying to continue the search for your sister tomorrow,” Goro filled in, taking a step toward her.

Chikako smiled back. “I appreciate that, Jet. Thank you.”

Jet Jaguar simply nodded as Goro spoke up once more. “Until then, we should turn in for the night. We won’t achieve any results right now.”

“Then, I guess I shall retreat to my quarters,” Chikako said as she exited the room only to find Victoria standing outside. Her heart immediately raced at the sudden arrival of the scientist, remaining frozen in place.

“Ah, greetings, Chikako. If I may, can I have a word with Mister Ibuki?” requested Victoria politely.

“I…. I….” Chikako tried to answer, but Goro stepped in. “It’ll be okay.”

“Right, then I’ll see you tomorrow,” Chikako said, excusing herself from the conversation and heading toward her room.

With a shut of the door, Victoria turned back to her fellow scientist and spoke with sincerity in her voice. “Let me start off by saying I apologize for our disagreement during dinner earlier tonight. I was being unprofessional.”

Goro put his hand against his cheek, rubbing it. He wasn’t sure where she was getting at it or what her game was, but decided to play along. “It’s fine. We all went through an eventful day today.”

“That we have my friend,” hummed Victoria, taking a step inside the guest room, observing the room’s diverse decor hanging all over the walls. Two objects in particular got her fancy, keeping her eyes peeled onto them.

Goro and Jet Jaguar noticed what she was looking at and was surprised by her interest in it. A curved sword and a black shield with a red cross painted on it hung over a nightstand.

“Are you aware of what kind of sword this is, Goro?” Victoria inquired, inspecting the weapon.

“I can’t say I do.”

“It’s a kilij. One favored by empires like the Ottomans and Timurid, at least that’s what Kisihida has told me,” Victoria answered.

“I take it you’re a history buff,” Goro deduced, crossing his arms against his chest as she turned to face him.

“Only the stuff that matters to me, like you,” she confirmed, approaching him slowly.

“Me?”

“Yes. Kisihida is all but useless. I just need one little thing. It’s you who I find more relevant,” Victoria spoke up, stopping in front of Goro.

“And how am I more ‘relevant’ than him?” Goro inquired, not liking where any of this was heading toward. His gut rumbled, knowing full well all hell was about to break loose. The inventor slightly tilted his head toward Jet Jaguar and nodded, telling his son to be alert should anything happen.

“You know how to change the world and morph it into your image, and so do I,” she answered, humming in anticipation over what his response would be, as her mind swam through multiple scenarios at how their future endeavors could end up as.

“Are you suggesting to murder Kishida?” Goro nearly gasped out, shocked at what the descendant of Frankenstein was suggesting.

“I wouldn’t say murder, more like putting the dead to rest,” Victoria corrected.

“The dead?!” Goro nearly spat out.

“Yes. Him and his wife are vampires. Creatures of the night. Not only will we be committing a good deed, but we’ll be avenging your client’s sister,” Victoria illustrated, hoping the way she was spinning her betrayal would be enough to gain a useful ally for the time being.

Nothing could have prepared him for what Victoria’s last words were. He lets his arms drop as he mouthed out, “What?”

“Oh yeah, Chikako’s sister. Gone…. Well, more like one of them now, but not as intelligent. Just a puppet for their own uses,” she clarified, smirking ever so slightly at seeing her fellow scientist’s reaction. “And as I said, we’ll be doing the world a favor by ridding it over a couple of bad apples.”

“Why? Why would they do this and why haven’t you done anything about it? What the hell is wrong with you!” Goro erupted, angered by the sickening details she had just given to him. He had been aware about how sinister people can be, but what they were doing just made him feel rotten to the core.

“Which is why I need your help to stop all of it, so this can never happen. With your robot and my creatures, and even the Gyaos, we can help put things right. We’ll make sure they suffer greatly for every injustice they commited,” Victoria feigned delightfully, as she hoped to kill two birds with one stone, so she could hold every unique creature and experiment in the palm of her hand. She was so close to having him under his control.

“No,” Goro simply voiced.

Her heart dropped.

“Wha… what?” Victoria nearly spat out in shock.

“You’d really think I would help you continue your sick experiments. Playing God by subjecting innocents to your disgusting tests. No. I won’t have any part of it!” Goro declared as he stomped toward the door, intending to grab Chikako, so the three of them could be safe against whatever may be thrown at them.

Out of the shadows of the doorway, a groan was heard, forcing Goro to stop in his tracks. He looked up to see the lumbering Frankenstein slowly advancing toward him. The look of sorrow and sympathy was no longer on his face, but one of stoicism. There was no fear as he looked down upon him, readying to attack him at any second.

“Should have taken my offer, Goro. It’s a shame really. We could have achieved so much together, but I suppose I’ll stick with Kishida’s for the time being,” Victoria voiced her disappointment, moving her eyes toward Frankenstein. “Do what you have to, but keep him intact. At least his face.”

Victoria moved past Frankenstein and left the room. The monster slowly advanced on the inventor, readying to make the first move. Goro scuttled back onto the large mattress, acting on an instinctive impulse. Before Frankenstein could close the gap, the metallic frame of the metal man stood between them, giving Goro ample time to crawl off the bed. Jet Jaguar stood his ground, deep down hoping the freakish human wouldn’t advance any further. Yet the caveman’s stoicism showed no emotional response, just an order that needed to be executed.

Not heeding the robot’s demands, Frankenstein lurched at the obstacle before him, prepared to use his raw strength to cast the machine aside. The two artificial men locked arms, superhuman muscles tensing against metallic limbs. But such a feud proved fruitless for the immortal man, who found himself quickly overwhelmed by copper-wire muscles as Jet Jaguar pulled him in and bashed him with a headbutt. Loosening his grip, Frankenstein fell to the mercy of the man-made human as the mecha threw out a drop kick, careening the caveman into the decorated wall.

With a loud thud, acrylic backing broke under the feral man’s hefty weight, the decorative kilji and shield falling with. Though Frankenstein groaned from the wracking pain, unlike a normal human, he was able to recuperate from the iron blow and get back to his feet. Cellular regeneration kicked in, repairing fractured bones and weaving splintered cells back together. Bruises reduced in swelling exponentially, the handiwork of his gifted genetics. All the while, he felt a pulsating sensation course through his very being; a primal awakening of a dormant giant, waiting to come out.

Noticing the sword and shield, the mutant neanderthal hurriedly grasped the armory, hoisting the rounded shield and unsheathing the curved blade. Rearing the weapon back, Frankenstein went in for a lunge, only for Jet Jaguar to veer off to the side, the kilji only embedding itself into the bed frame. The robot man pushed on with a punch, though Frankenstein was quick to use his newfound shield as a parry, to which he was able to quickly follow up with a slash from the kilji, scratching the red paint off Jet’s chest.

The warring men continued their bout, thrashing the once luxurious room into a pigsty.

Metal chops clanged against a steel-forged blade, a flurry of fists blocked by a crafted, resilient safeguard, even if it was haphazardly handled. Though no matter how much Frankenstein resisted, the might of Jet Jaguar proved to be too great to handle. Their clash led to them barreling through the walls, sprawling out in the hallways of the grand castle. The two creations of man rolled through the rubble until Jet Jaguar gained the firm advantage, delivering a lethal punch square in the monster’s face.

Bones cracked, blood gushed out of the man-beast’s nostrils. Jet felt guilty, he didn’t want for this to end this way. He knew Frankenstein wasn’t a willing participant in Victoria’s cruel experiments. Why should he suffer for the sake of living? Jet glanced at the prone body, with Frankenstein having succumbed to unconsciousness, the sword and shield laid by his sides. Jet knelt beside him, gently pulling the kilji and aegis from Frankenstein’s unconscious body.

This wasn’t a burden he had to carry.

Equipped with the historic weapons of ages past, Jet nodded at the feral man. He hoped there would be a time where he could make his own peace. For now, they had to part ways; though as Jet Jaguar moved to find his life-long friend and father, it didn’t take him long to locate the origin of the horrific scream…

It hadn’t been long after his prodigy and Victoria’s monster began to clash, though beyond all else he had to ensure the safety of Chikako. This place was nothing short of a death trap, and he had to inform her as soon as he could. Scouring the hallways for her path, he felt like he was stuck in an endless loop.

Running down dimly lit halls, with the flames on the hanging torches seemingly following him, Goro reached Chikako’s room. He yanked the door open only to find her missing. He gripped his hand into a fist as he slammed it onto the door frame.

“Shit! They got to her!”

Without giving it a second thought, Goro ran deeper into the hallway, checking every room he came across, but nothing turned up. All of them were empty as his ears rang from the fighting in his room. He knew his son could handle Frankenstein, but at the same time he wanted to turn back and help him. Yet, out of the two, Chikako was the one who needed him more.

With a rapid turn to the left, Goro nearly collapsed face first onto the floor. Fortunately, he was lucky enough to only stumble a few feet before looking up. What he saw horrified him!

He was too late!

Kisihida and Mika stood on the opposite side of the hallway, staring blankly at him as he held Chikako in his arms. Kishida formed a sinister smile on his face as he saw the shock wash over on his guest’s face. Mika turned her gaze away at Goro and back at Chikako, gently caressing her fingers onto her face, admiring her future appearance.

Goro shook at the danger his newfound friend was in. If Jet were with them, then this confrontation would be over within seconds, but he was on his own. Fighting was never his strength. He gritted his teeth knowing at his pathetic attempt to defend his home from the Seatopia agents a year ago, resulting in almost losing two of the people he treasured the most.

No.

He couldn’t fight them head on, but instead, he had to approach this far, far more intelligently. Goro held his hands up as he slowly walked toward them, each footstep trembling more than the last.

“Kishida, listen,” Goro spoke, keeping the vampire’s gaze on him. “Victoria is planning to betray you. She wanted me to help rid you from the world, but the cost was too great!”

Goro knew that even though what he said was true, the words likely wouldn’t reach them. He had no fondness over them and neither did they. All they would see it as, was a weak ploy to get them to release Chikako.

Kishida simply chuckled at the information the inventor delivered. “You really think I’m intimidated by that woman who should be locked in an asylum and her inept servant?”

The vampire stepped forward, mimicking Goro’s behavior in an attempt to intimidate him as he continued to speak. “She has mistakenly given me everything I need, and so have you. With both of you under my roof, I will take everything and use it to rule, to make the world grovel at our feet!”

And with another footstep, he formed a blood curled smile, broadcasting his fangs, “But first, I need to ensure my Mika has time for her transition.”

As if on cue, all of the doors in the hallway snapped open, with several pale people emerging from the rooms. Their eyes almost pitch black, contrasting with the pure white clothing they were dressed in. The ghouls stumbled toward Goro, which was enough to make his heart beat faster than anything ever before. He was horrified by the reality before him.

All of these people were reduced to husks.

“Don’t worry. They won’t tear you up too badly. Your face will be kept in good condition, but my subjects are hungry and they haven’t eaten in days,” explained Kishida, as he followed it with a deep, echoing laugh.

Before Goro knew it, both Kishida and Mika vanished with their hostage, leaving him alone with the ghouls slowly surrounding him. The inventor was outnumbered and had nothing to arm himself with. He turned in all directions, desperately trying to search for a way out, but it was to no avail. Every possible inch he could use to wiggle out for an escape route was blocked. He was doomed.

Their weak moans made his skin crawl while he saw their mouths slowly opening up. Their collective fangs pointed directly toward every inch of his body as they moved closer toward him. This was the end for him.

Goro closed his eyes, preparing himself for the inevitable as he didn’t want to see them feasting on his body. The movies he watched as a kid showed him enough how this went down, he didn’t need to see the real life version of it.

SLASH!

With an oozing like sound followed by two thuds, Goro opened his eyes to see to his shock, Jet Jaguar standing in front of him with the kilji and a shield in his hands. His son let out a loud beep, stepping aside slightly, revealing the vampire’s bisected remains. Goro cringed at the corpse in front of him, but nonetheless nodded in appreciation at him.

Jet Jaguar jerked his head to the right, eyeing a vampire nearly about to grab his creator. The size-changing robot threw the sword into the vampire’s mouth and through another’s body, shish kebabing them into a wall. He rushed over to recover the weapon, ramming through the charging undead with his shield, knocking them down to the ground. Jet nearly grabbed a hold of his sword, but a ghoul latched himself onto his leg, impeding his movement.

The robot beeped in annoyance, turning his direction toward it and slamming its shield down on the vampire’s neck, severing its head from the body. Jet Jaguar, without even looking, snatched the sword from the trapped ghouls, immediately letting their bodies slide down the wall.

With a quick slash of the kilji, Jet Jaguar decapitated three of the vampires’ heads, with their bodies immediately dropping to the ground. A ghoul leapt onto the robot, but he quickly blocked it with his shield and sent it flying into a wall, creating a large hole in it.

Turning the other direction, Jet leapt in front of his creator and slashed away at the other group of vampires. Jet Jaguar swung his sword through one vampire’s stomach, severing it half while he dispatched a second by slamming his shield so hard it flattened its face.

With several more slashes, the vampires in the area were dwindling. Jet Jaguar turned to Goro and beeped. The inventor knew what his creation was getting at and didn’t need to be told twice about. He nodded in appreciation and maneuvered through the meager amount of vampires, aiming to find Chikako before it was too late.

Without a moment to spare, Jet hacked and slashed through the conglomerates of the undead. Their frail, rotted skin cleaved by the curved blade, Jet Jaguar effortlessly dismembered the vampires of their arms and torsos. But they persisted, swarming the robot man in sheer numbers, though their feeble strength proved nothing more than a nuisance. With a pushback from the cross-adorned shield and a swipe from the kilji, the metal warrior plowed through Kishida’s slaves.

Leaping back to gain some distance, Jet Jaguar powered on his high beams, eliciting bloodcurdling screeches from the horde of the undead. With intensity that matched raw sunlight, artificial blue light bubbled and burned the pale flesh of the lamiae. Their malicious and horrid screams, banshee wails that lacked the spirit of humanity, served as their fleeting death cry as they bore witness to bones jutting from their decaying skin. Even those that averted their eyes were subject to the burning fury of the immense light.

As their bodies were reduced, a path was cleared for Jet to cross, hoping to catch up with Goro to help in his desperate search. But before he knew it, another panicked cry from Goro alerted Jet that he was far from out of the woods. Jumping from the balcony and onto the lower floors, Jet’s high beams revealed the dire situation of Goro and the viscous shape of a horrid zombie. Upon being exposed to the lights, the cretin screeched and backed away into the darkest corner of the lower floors, sizzling steam rolling off its flesh.

With a quick bound, Jet drew out the kilji and mercilessly slaughtered the vampiric drone, splitting its head open with an upward swipe. Bright red blood splattered against the walls as its lifeless corpse slumped to the ground. With the threat disposed of, Jet nodded and gave Goro the thumbs up; he had his back. Even if such a sentiment was already a given.

Jet ran ahead, outpacing Goro in terms of speed. His creator cried out to him, but Jet knew it was all the more necessary to do so. With what laid ahead, he couldn’t risk Goro’s safety if that meant–

As anticipated, grotesque demons reared their ugly heads from the claustrophobic corridor, their sharp claws and sharp canines intercepting the metal man. The slaves of Dracula cluttered the hallway, their putrid filth forcing Goro to cover his nose. Jet Jaguar surveyed the situation. If they were here, they had to be coming from somewhere…

One sunk its fangs onto synthetic brachialis, puncturing its incisors into Jet’s metallic coating. But a hard bash from the hilt was enough to fracture its skull, mashing its brains and forcing it off. Yet much like the mythological hydra, when one went down, two more took its place. While there was no blood to be drained, they instead felt a stream of electrical currents flow through their gnashing teeth. The ever-so grinning robot tried to retaliate with a blare of high beams, only for them to flicker and fade with the loss of energy.

This wasn’t good… Not at all.

…A weak stirring aroused him from unconsciousness. An unintelligible moan escaped his lips, dusting himself of debris and rubble. The feral man clenched his fists and teeth, overwhelmed by a newfound sensation of power. Frankenstein’s cellular growth exploded, resulting in a sudden increase in mass he had thought was long gone to him. Had it been the fight that triggered a dormant gene, or was it simply the next stage in his evolution?

Gasps and screams came from the primitive man-beast, who rolled in anguish from his sudden growth spurt. What had once been a human-sized person had grown into a frame fit for an athlete, nearly doubled in height. As he pushed himself off the broken floorboard, he scanned to pick up his arms and could find none. Where were they? Certainly, he had them in hand before he fell into unconsciousness…

Frankenstein awkwardly shuffled through the hallway, clamping his hands at the rail of the balcony. His eyes peered down and saw the impact left behind by the one who had left him there. Frankenstein knew he had to know, and to know meant to follow. Breaking the rails under his weight, Frankenstein clumsily fell down the many layers to the castle of Dracula, crashing onto the first floor. He noticed his thicker skin was able to take more of the impact than before, all the while his cellular regeneration mended any wounds from the fall.

Debris scattered in the lonely corridors as Frankenstein sniffed for a scent. While the robot remained virtually undetectable, his creator left a definite trail for him to follow. Squeezing into the tightened hallway, the mutant scraped the ceiling tiles until he found what he was looking for. A host of many humanoid figures, creatures Frankenstein knew were the ill-fated slaves of Kishida. It didn’t take much for him to deduce that the robot’s inventor had continued on; meaning the one buried was none other than the one he sought.

With strong, burly hands, the mutant pried the vicious vampires off the mechanical man, crushing their heads between his palms. He tossed their squirming bodies aside, and even if they had survived being torn apart, the ghouls scurried back into the shadows of the castle’s interior, leaving the two artificial men alone in the darkness.

As they vanished from sight, Frankenstein was beholden to the puncture marks and flickering high beams scarred on the robotic warrior. With kilji and shield in hand, Jet Jaguar laid limp against the wall, twitching as he attempted to self-reboot. Grimacing his frustrations, Frankenstein clutched the neck of the crippled automaton and slammed him against the wall.

At first, he could only utter groans before he inquired, “…Wh…y?” The immortal man whistled air from between his teeth, repeatedly thrashing Jet’s disabled body like a ragdoll against the wall. “Couldn’t you… Have ended…” A pained wheeze escaped his lips, watery eyes only being held back by stone cold perseverance. “…My misery?”

One more soul-shattering scream, and Frankenstein tore through the wall, with Jet Jaguar used as the buffer. The room they had intruded upon was yet another of the count’s guest rooms, with a large queen-sized bed and a wall with shelves of books and decor. Pinning the lifeless husk on the carpet, Frankenstein wailed on the robot’s prone form.

Anguished cries echoed through the hall, as Frankenstein’s fists collided against dense metal, denting it.

And he screamed.

With a massive swing, Goro broke into the basement, the place he deduced as the most likely location where Kishida was enacting his plan. He stormed down the stairs, ignoring the fear that was swimming in his body, and instead focused on rescuing Chikako.

However, he was stopped in his tracks as he saw Chikako and Mika strapped onto separate beds with Kishida standing over the client. He smirked at Goro as he brought up a knife parallel to his face.

“Kishida, please!” Goro begged, taking a step forward, attempting to reason with the vampire once more to spare his friend.

“And why should I? Why should my loving wife continue to suffer having a face of a criminal? Doesn’t she deserve a fresh start?” questioned the count, slowly bringing the knife down toward Chikako.

“Victoria!” Goro spoke out as if an idea struck his mind like lightning. “Why not use her face, instead? Surely you can still have a use for her after all the trouble she’s putting you through.”

Kishida pulled his knife away from the unconscious Chikako, providing a moment of relief from Goro as a massive weight was lifted off of him. However, the count let out a vicious cackle, turning his attention toward him once more.

“You really think I want to see my Mika plagued with that wretched woman’s face?” Kishida chanted, pointing the knife toward her as it was inches away from cutting into her face. Goro felt the rage brewing inside of him, as he charged toward.

Goro only made it a few steps before he felt a blunt object colliding harshly into his back. The pain surging all over his body made him unleash a blood curled cry as he collapsed onto his stomach. He hissed in pain as he turned his head slightly toward Victoria standing above him with a two by four in her hands while she smiled delightfully.

“A shame it has come to this, Goro,” Victoria spoke solemnly, with her smile soon coming back, turning her attention to Kishida. “Now, I believe we have a deal to finish up.”

“I appreciate the help, Victoria, but our little friend has told me some troubling news about our arrangement,” Kishida announced, his voice filled with venom and his eyes shooting daggers at her.

“Is that so?” Victoria questioned, walking toward her client while she shot a brief glare at the downed Goro. Her fingers walked alongside the accompanying tables as she made her way toward the two vampires.

“I’ve been told you’re planning to alter our arrangement.”

“Alter? Why would I? I just want what’s due. I have no desire to compromise any of it whatsoever,” Victoria sang, placating to the count’s authority, feigning her innocence as she inched her left hand toward her pocket.

“And as I said before, only when our conditions have been met,” Kishida reiterated, spitting in pure anger as he was getting fed up with the mad scientist’s constant demands. The time couldn’t come soon enough when she would meet her end, he was half tempted to just get it over with and figure out how to control the creatures himself.

“Ah….. I see….” Victoria trailed off as Goro slowly picked himself up to his knees, taking this opportunity to inch himself toward Chikako. Frankenstein’s descendent glanced down at the slumbering Mika, rubbing her hair with her free hand. She looked back at Kishida and smiled.

“Mika really is a beautiful woman, with a face that’ll make anyone beckon to her every desire,” Victoria monologued, as in the blink of an eye a cry of pure agony was unleashed by the now awakened vampire.

Kishida jumped in surprise as his eyes filled with horror at seeing a blade lodged directly into her heart as she gasped. Mika quivered as her eyes were filled with fear, looking at her husband, silently begging for him to help her. But it was of no use, her entire body froze up as life left her.

The count teared up as his beloved was no more.

Goro lifted himself toward the table, taking full advantage of the situation unfolding before him while he then undid the straps restraining Chikako. “Mhm…..” she stirred, slowly awakening from her sedation, seeing a blurred Goro helping her down from the bed.

“What’s…. going on?” inquired Chikako, but was soon hushed by her friend.

“You… took everything from me!” Kishida screamed out, taking eyes off the blade and toward his wife’s killer.

“What can I say? You were getting boring, and besides, Goro can give me a lot more…. and he’s easier to manipulate,” cackled the mad scientist, smiling brightly as she was getting herself ready to dispose of her former client.

With a quick pull, Kishida yanked the blade out of his wife’s body and shoved into Victoria’s stomach. The shock overwhelmed her, with her legs trembling and soon collapsing onto her knees. Kishida twisted the blade in her stomach as she was now experiencing a world of pain fully new to her.

Her eyes saw fear in front of her as Kishida towered over. “You’ll be released from the mortal realm, but it will not be what you wanted.”

Before she could even find the strength to ponder his worlds, he sunk his fangs into her neck, drawing blood from her newly created wound. Victoria unleashed a small groan as the life faded from her body, followed shortly by Kishida throwing her down to the ground like a discarded piece of garbage.

Kishida snapped his head toward the other direction, intending to clear up all loose ends, but only found the other bed previously occupied to be emptied. He hissed in anger as he saw Goro and Chikako limping as fast as they could up the stairs. Kishida took a few steps forward to pursue, but heard a small growl awakening from its slumber.

He turned to see the eyes of a gluttonous beast leering at him behind bars, chewing on a disposable servant to satiate the devilish beast. Kishida smirked. His whole world was lost to him now, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t get his just revenge. Regardless of where each one of them was born, they would all have the same destination.

They would all die here.

In the moment that passed, Jet Jaguar’s calming blue eyes illuminated in electronic brilliance. Before another of the mutant’s fists bashed against him, Jet was quick to put up the shield in front of him, letting the metallic barrier take the brunt of it. Flesh scraped against ancient armory, but unlike before, the thickness of Frankenstein’s skin warped the metal, cracking the shield down the middle. However, Jet was able to use this opportune time to slip his left leg and struck the feral man in the gut with a firm kick. Such a blow left Frankenstein reeling, giving time for Jet to backflip onto his feet. Noting the poor condition of the shield, it could no longer serve its required purpose. Thus, he tossed it aside.

As too he did with the curved blade, with Jet taking a knee in front of his former enemy.

Frankenstein spat a primitive grunt, slamming his fists to the ground, demanding to know why he submitted. Jet flicked his lights at a desk where a pen was, and it didn’t take long to register what he wanted. Frankenstein reluctantly pinched the pen and found some nearby paper, awkwardly shuffling it in front of the kneeling robot. Jet nodded in appreciation as he began to quickly write down his thoughts, passing a sheet to Frankenstein as he completed them.

“I am sorry to have caused you pain,” it wrote, “I did not wish to fight you. I know you didn’t have a choice, and you have suffered for a long time. I wish to save my family and leave. I hope you understand.” Frankenstein carefully read the enlarged text, absorbing every ounce of its meaning. He responded with a nod of resignation.

“Go, and…” Frankenstein paused, collecting his thoughts. “…Fa-mily.” Jet Jaguar gave a weak thumbs up as Frankenstein moved aside, allowing him to leave through the busted wall. Before Jet could leave, he was caught by a gentle clasp from the mutant’s hand. He uttered, “Can’t remember… Not forgotten…. Family…” Leaving with an understanding, Jet parted ways as he went to find Goro and Chikako. Left alone to his own thoughts, indeed a familiar face registered in Frankenstein’s consciousness. An unearthed time he had thought was long forsaken since his resurrection.

Her warm smile and calm demeanor flooded his mind with serotonin and fleeting nostalgia of a time long past. The only person that genuinely cared for him, yet one he had to leave behind when he became too big to handle. Even now, he knew he could never return to her; and perhaps it was for the best she didn’t know that he lived. But deep down, his heart yearned for her still, even if reality would never allow it to be.

He snuffled, letting the tears flow down his face. Collapsing to his side, Frankenstein curled into a ball as he was finally left to mourn. One last goodbye to a distant memory.

Exasperated and barely clinging to their rationality, the pair barged through the basement entrance, fearing for their lives. When a hellacious shriek echoed from the chamber, they knew they were in deep trouble. They had to escape, lest their fate result in their untimely demise.

As they ran down the halls, panting for breath, the basement entrance exploded from the mass that emerged from it. Such a vile sight served as a cruel reminder of the monstrosity they had encountered less than a day prior, its demonic features more pronounced than before. The once brownish skin had morphed into a bloody crimson, its eyes drenched in hatred and cat-like slits, its serrated fangs stripping anything that stood against it. Crawling on its winged claws and talons, the evolved Gyaos pursued the unwanted guests.

As Goro and Chikako leapt over the scattered remains of vampire’s slaves, the bloodthirsty monster didn’t miss a beat as it snapped the torn limbs and torsos into its disgusting jaws. Foul, disgusting slurps wrenched the deepest pits of their stomachs, a firm reminder of their bloodthirsty pursuer. The Gyaos, gorging on the remains of Dracula’s thrall, tore through the narrow hall with little effort and quickly gained on them. They smelt the putrid breath run through their nostrils, forcing them to close their noses.

Before they could even register, be it out of panic or simply averting their attention, a glimmer shined from the end of the corridor. Such brilliance inched closer to them, as only Goro registered what it was. The figure of Jet Jaguar rushed past them and toward the Gyaos. From his man-sized stature, Jet continued his path, unimpeded by the monstrous beast before him.

‘Jet, please,’ Goro kept to himself, ‘Best of luck.’

Immediately, Jet Jaguar blared his high beams at the crazed devil, though it merely stunned the creature. Over its once sensitive eyes, a translucent membrane filtered light in such a way that lessened the effects of extreme light sources. But all Jet needed was a distraction as he brought his hands out in a gesture. A brillant, golden star flashed on his chest, his body mass expanding exponentially. His upper body shredded the walls around him, which forced the reddened monstrosity to back off.

He had failed to enact this tactic in their first bout due to unexpected developments. Had things gone his way, the Gyaos would have been smeared into a bloody paste and its reign of terror ceased to be. It was time to correct that mistake. Larger and larger he became, until his fifty-meter body exploded from the castle’s rooftop, scattering stone and debris across the once quiet forest. Darkness casted its presence over the night sky, though the brimming hue of a shining dawn peered from over the horizon. The count’s castle rumbled from the newfound presence lodged in its space, with Jet’s head and shoulders peering over the castle. Jet felt assured his human companions were out of harm’s way, though maybe in for an unintentional scare. Nevertheless, it was now or never.

Lifting his enlarged leg through the interior, the metal extension tore through the once beautiful and gracious domain of castle Dracula. Shifting feet scoured for the dwarfed Gyaos, yet he failed to find the cretin. Certainly, it was still on the first floor…

A piercing light cleanly shot out from nearby, quickly followed by a lithe form breaking through the cemented surface. Ruptured stone followed in its wake as the Gyaos ascended higher into the darkened sky, unfolding its wings to capture its slow descent. Talons scraped against the regal foundation, hateful, glimmering eyes glaring at the gargantuan automaton that stood before it. The Gyaos, nearing some thirty feet in length, shrieked at the humanoid robot. The machine responded in kind with an electronic beep, followed by an overwhelming brightness from his optic units. Like before, the heatenistic avian was merely stunned by such a force, flapping its wings and nearly evading the slamming metallic hands of the giant.

Such a strike shattered the rooftop instantly, its weakened foundation collapsing into the vacant space Jet Jaguar now occupied with his large body. Metal-enforced hands tried to swat the demonic ghoul from the sky, only to be met with another evasive maneuver. Twirling the skies like it was nothing, the vile bird-like monstrosity avoided the slow, clumsy strikes of the metal man. What had once been useful in slugging the god of Seatopia in the face proved fruitless against a nimble, agile opponent.

Scooping a portion of the castle in his hand, Jet catapulted a cluster of stones at the airborne monstrosity, praying for a direct hit. But alas, no such thing occurred, for its aerodynamic capabilities far exceeded expectations. Instead, the Gyaos opened its filthy maw and began accelerating supersonic vibrations in the back of its throat. A golden light illuminated and discharged just as quickly, having long since adapted to using the technique. The xanthic lance pierced the gigantic machine’s right eye, killing the fluorescent lights that once laid under the lens. Not even a second later, the beam bursted from the back of Jet Jaguar’s head, and dissipated not long thereafter. The right eye was lost, and even the left eye began to fade and flicker from loss of power. Jet staggered, but remained steadfast.

Before Jet could initiate a clap to crush the meddling cretin, another burst of supersonic light erupted from the demon’s gullet, spewing another scalpel. This time, the beam carved into the shoulder joint of Jet’s right arm, piercing the other side nearly instantaneously. Then, like a hydrocutter, the compacted sonic energies sliced through the thick layers of metal and copper wires, cleaving the arm off the giant robot. Instinctually, in an almost human-like capacity, Jet clutched his lobbed off arm. This wasn’t working in the way he hoped… With a star-like flash, Jet began to regress in size, halting at nearly twenty feet tall. As he did, his once gigantic arm crashed behind him, throwing up debris and loose paper that billowed in the morning wind.

Fractured and damaged, Jet could only look on as he saw the crimson vulture circle from high above, clearly keeping an eye on him… Then, folding its wings back in, the Gyaos dove toward the maimed robot, screeching as it did.

Without a doubt, this signaled that the end drew near, as the sun peaked from over the horizon…

Bone chilling screeches clashed with the exchange of blows as they bounced through the hallways. Goro and Chikako stumbled, desperately trying to make their way out of the castle, but were finding the task to be more difficult than they thought. They were nowhere near the sonic cutter of the vile, disgusting creature, but its echo rang all over the castle, forcing them to nearly collapse.

The two kept their hold onto each other as Goro slammed into the wall, nearly relinquishing his grasp on her friend. Chikako, still hazy from her sedation, was feeling her second wind fading.

Goro tightened his hold on her, breathing out “Come on, Chikako! We’re almost out of here!” The inventor snapped his head upward to see the big doors looming over them in the lobby. “Just a few more steps.”

Simultaneously, they moved their bodies, inching closer and closer to their exit when an all too familiar face to Chikako greeted them at the door.

Her eyes widened.

“It couldn’t be?” Chikako mentally blared.

A beautiful, pale woman stood there, draped in pure white clothing, staring blankly at them.

“Yuko!” Chikako cried out, trying to wrestle herself out of Goro’s hands to see her sister standing before them. The person they had been searching for has finally been found. Their investigation was over with.

Unfortunately, it came at a price, and Goro knew this.

“Oh yeah, Chikako’s sister. Gone…. Well, more like one of them now, but not as intelligent. Just a puppet for their own uses.”

Victoria’s words rang in Goro’s head, remembering the dreaded fate that came to Chikako’s dear sister. Goro tightened his grip onto his friend as she snapped at him. “Let me go! I need to make sure she’s okay!”

“She’s not your sister anymore!” Goro retaliated.

“It’s still her!”

“Look at her!” Goro nearly screamed out, turning her head over to the ghoul. “She’s just like the others. Gone and no way of coming back.”

“We came all this way….” Chikako spoke out, her voice nearly trembling at everything the investigator was conveying to her. She knew finding her sister was going to be a long shot, but they found her! It had to end with them walking away from this unscathed.

“I know…. and if I was in your shoes, I’d be the same way, but we have to keep going,” Goro reasoned, lowering his tone of voice, taking the first step toward the door.

They proceeded to make their way toward the door when they heard a deep laugh booming throughout the room. Their hearts beat rapidly as they turned around to see Kishida standing behind them with a glare painted on his face.

“Even after everything, you still failed. The Gyaos will tear your robot to pieces and it will do the same for all of us,” Dracula declared, holding his hands high in the air as the castle rumbled around them, with pieces of stone collapsing all around them.

“You really want us all to die just because we foiled your plan?” Goro spoke up, angered by how one person would want to drag everyone down with him.

“Because of her death, life has no purpose now, and one way or another, I will let the Gyaos cast the world in darkness, just as I watch the last rising sun,” Kishida announced, feeling his body feeling content with the planned ending, but his heart empty over Mika no longer existing.

Goro immediately held onto Chikako and made a rush for the door only for the undead Yuko to raise her arms up. She let out a large snarl, inching her way toward them as they backed up. They were trapped and both were far too injured to put up a fight.

STOMP!

Footsteps made themselves known, shaking the entire lobby even further as each footstep created craters in the floor. Kishida was the first to turn around and formed a smirk on his face while Goro and Chikako stood frozen in fear.

Frankenstein towered over them with the kilji in his hand, now scaled more like a dagger from his accelerated growth. His stone cold glare forced them to be in a near catatonic state as he took another step forward.

“Good…. For once you’ll actually accomplish something,” Kishida commented as Frankenstein turned around to his associate, casting the same look onto him.

Dracula wasn’t intimidated by the monster as he still had some control over it. “You have one last order to fulfill.” The vampire turned his head back toward the two. “Kill them by any means necessary.”

Frankenstein nodded his head in compliance, taking another step forward while he raised the sword up at them. Kishida grinned in satisfaction, knowing his revenge will be complete.

With his left arm swinging around, Frankenstein turned his body and snatched up his former master. Shifting his hand upward, the Modern Prometheus placed his hand onto Dracula’s head and began to squeeze, eliciting a painful cry from him.

Blood poured from out his head as the liquid filled his eyes with pure red. Still, it was enough to see everything transpiring in front of him. Frankenstein then rammed the blade straight through Kishida’s heart, unleashing a howl so chilling it made Goro and Chikako cover their ears. They hated the man, but couldn’t stand to see the brutality Frankenstein was subjecting him to.

POP!

Frankenstein felt brain matter explode in his palm as he moved it downward to see the now headless body of the vampire. Looking down at the corpse with disgust, he withdrew the blade and threw the corpse against the wall, splattering it into pieces.

The Modern Prometheus glanced over at the last vampire standing at the door, making his move toward her. Goro and Chikako looked up to see Frankenstien moving past them, the inventor breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he wasn’t after them. However, Chikako held different sentiments.

She nearly jumped up as she limped toward her sister, racing Frankenstein.

“Wait!” Chikako cried out, but Frankenstein ignored her, taking another step. “WAIT!”

He stopped.

Frankenstein turned to her, staring down at her. He saw the tears in her eyes, the way she was acting around the remaining ghoul. He sympathized with her, knowing full well the girl meant a lot to her, but he couldn’t let this monster go free. It would only end up hurting more people, like himself.

He turned his attention away from her and continued his trek toward Yuko. Chikako limped further, placing herself between the two monsters. “Give me the blade!”

Frankenstein paused, completely floored by what she had just said. “You don’t need to kill anymore. This isn’t something you have to do. I’m the one who will take responsibility for this.”

His eyes watered, the girl reminded him of a special one he had cherished.

Caring.

Loving.

Responsible.

Everything he aspired to be.

A tear dropped his eye and the blade followed suit, impaling the floor. Chikako nodded at him and pulled the sword from the ground and pointed it at the moaning Yuko.

Chikako huffed as her legs trembled with every step she took. She didn’t want to do this, she wanted to take her sister away from all of this. Alive or not, she owed her that much, but Goro was right. She was gone and she had to make sure it stayed that way.

She got face to face with her sister, raising the blade up to her chest. “I’m sorry. I’m…. so… sorry.”

Chikako rammed the blade into Yuko’s chest, eliciting a gurgled cry before she slid down the wall. She let go of the blade as it collapsed, crying at the act she had just committed. Goro jolted over toward her, holding her as he tried to comfort her, but couldn’t find the word to convey it to her.

Frankenstein stared down at them, his eyes mimicking theirs as he still had tears. His body shook, feeling sick at every action he had committed and how he was no different than the others in this mansion.

Then, his ears heard a ringing noise. One he was all too familiar with as a robotic cry followed suit. Frankenstein’s hands tightened up. The fight wasn’t over yet. He couldn’t make the promise the girl wanted him to make. Not yet or maybe even never.

Frankenstein yanked the blade from the corpse as Goro and Chikako looked up at him. He took a step forward toward the rest of the mansion. “Wait!” she cried out, forcing him to stop, keeping his back toward them.

“Go…..Go!” Frankenstein barked out, as he felt himself choking on his own words. “Can save….. Save one more family….”

And with that, Frankenstein disappeared in the darkness as Goro lifted Chikako up to her feet, pushing open the door to their salvation. The two only hoped Jet and Frankenstein would share the same fate.

A graceful side-step was all it took for Jet to evade the vicious talons of the wicked devil. As the Gyaos crashed into the rubble that had once been part of the castle, the creature’s weight dispersed the loose paper and stony debris all over, cloaked in a dusty cloud from the impact. Jet backpedaled next to his severed, gigantic arm, hiding behind it to conceal himself from the eyes of a wrathful beast.

The metal man stood silently, assessing the dire situation before him. Lost an eye, down an arm, in critical condition after hours of fighting… He slid against the metallic covering, reaching the stump of exposed wires. He peeked from beyond, seeing the Gyaos survey the ruins, trying to track him down. Good, it didn’t seem to notice him. Jet nodded, it was something in his favor. But what did he have to show for it, exactly?

Reaching his left arm into the socket, he pulled out several cords, trying to clear a path. If anyone knew his anatomical and mechanical features better… It was Goro. But Jet himself was second best! He knew it would be too timely to reconnect into a fully functional arm, but if he found the right components, there just might be a chance… The moment he found the central cord, he wrangled with the thick cable to get it out of its socket. Such movement stirred noises Jet didn’t anticipate, but nevertheless shoved as much of the disproportionately large cordage into his right stump as he could. If he could only trigger an electrical spark, then…

Unfortunately, his mistakes would cost him gravely. Turning its twisted head, the red devil lunged at the smiling robot, who desperately tried to stimulate the power cord with some copper wire. The ghoulish reptile clamped its fangs on his rubbery blue neck, jerking him aside and pulling out the enlarged cable in the process. Their bodies shredded the two-story floors, the Gyaos throwing Jet’s struggling body around like a ragdoll. Jet struggled, trying to exert his mechanical body to grow; but the night had taken its toll. Even the star that shined was nothing more than a wisp in the night, almost as if he was bleeding out.

When the Gyaos had finished flailing Jet’s broken body, it slammed it under itself, crawling atop the busted machine. Opening its gaping maw, a golden light shimmered from the back of its throat. Jet only had moments to recollect all that he would lose; most important of all, his father, his creator… His best friend.

This was it. The end drew nigh.

Loud footsteps casted rubble aside, which caught the Gyaos’ attention. However, the shadow of evil refused to divert its focus; this robot would perish, right here, right now. But before the pivotal moment, a large body leapt onto its back, and suddenly felt a sharp sensation ringing from its jugular. Though the curved sword was nothing lethal, it stung as bright blood oozed from the wound as it had been shoved all the way up to the hilt. Then, powerful hands grasped around the angular crescent from the back of its head, yanking the demonic reptile and misdirecting the sonic beam into the castle walls. It cleaved through the upper floors and stone walls so cleanly, it left a gash from within.

Abruptly ceasing its sonic cutter, the Gyaos shrieked at the caveman that clung for dear life. Like a wild rodeo, Gyaos bucked and snorted, trying to pry the immortal Frankenstein off it. Their feud shredded the upper floors until the vicious demon crawled out into the open space left by the robot’s gigantism, spreading out its wings for flight.

Frankenstein clenched tightly, his gut tightening from the sudden ascension, trying to keep his breath. Tremendous pressure weighed down on the mutant’s flailing form, involuntarily bouncing against the thrashing demon. He was losing his grip, hands slowly sliding from the angled crests, bleeding from the sharp edges they inflicted. Frankenstein was quick to grasp the wicked fiend’s trapezius muscles, just within reach of the dagger embedded in the neck.

Ever so relentless the Gyaos was, twirling in an aileron roll and sporadically discharging supersonic scalpels into open air. Trees and stone-laden walls torn asunder, sliced in twain with reckless abandon. But still, Frankenstein persisted, even as his strength waned on him. With a desperate push, he thrusted his hand to the kilji and pulled it out, retrieving the bloody weapon. Holding it back, and barely clinging with one arm on the Gyaos’ neck, Frankenstein made his most daring and bold stand.

Before releasing hold, he plunged the curved dagger into the wings of evil.

Without anything else to hold onto other than the blade, the hairy humanoid slid down as the sword tore through the winged membrane. And as the kilji sliced through the last of the Gyaos’ wing membrane, Frankenstein fell into a freefall. He was left at the mercy of fate, falling until he crashed into the vacant ruins of Dracula’s castle. The vile monstrosity struggled to maintain buoyancy, and it too fell clumsily from the sky.

Frankenstein felt every bit of the pain that surged through his neurons, his mind clouded by the concussion. Though his superb regeneration helped in mending wounds, Frankenstein groaned in distress, struggling to get back to his feet. A blurry gaze searched for his weapon, but only found half of it, snapped at the center. Shaking his head, he cleared his vision as the devil from the shadows landed, grounding itself on all-fours and growling at the twenty-foot man-beast.

The violent tormentor lunged, breaking into a quadrupedal sprint. The hominid anchored his bare feet into the gravel, prepared to catch the ravenous hunter by the horns. Yet the overwhelming strength of the starving devil proved too mighty, shoving the mighty man against the shattered foundation. With an upward flick of its angled head, the Gyaos threw the mutant human on his back, and prowled in for the kill.

Shifting hands and legs scurried back from the dagger-filled maw, which barely grazed his toes. Frankenstein kicked up gravel with his feet, hoping for a miniscule distraction while he got back to his feet; but alas, such a violent, persistent predator would not allow it. One pounce was all the Gyaos needed, clamping its razor jaws onto Frankenstein’s left arm. Blood squirted profusely from the tearing flesh, the rabid beast savoring every moment of it.

Agonizing screams resounded from the immortal giant, his nerves firing off critical warnings to the brain. Prepping the other hand, Frankenstein did the only thing he felt he could. Even with the sickening sound of tearing skin, he thrusted his hand directly into the eye of the devil–its hellacious screams enough to free the captive from its toothy grip. Clutching his bleeding arm, Frankenstein backed up as far as he could until his back hit against the ruined corridors.

Blinded and bleeding from one eye, the frenzied predator discharged a flurry of supersonic scalpels. Aimless and ripe with fury, the golden beam sliced through the entirety of the once magnificent castle, venting its frustrations. What it sought was the dismemberment of the one that tore out its eye, but even such a task felt moot. Cornerstones of the mythic structure were decimated, leaving no support to uphold it. Loud, destructive rumblings indicated everything they needed to know; this home for the wicked would be no more, and none of them, these monsters of man, would make it out alive.

Focusing its remaining eye, the Gyaos spotted the wheezing abomination, who feared for his life. For Frankenstein, time slowed to a crawl. Even with the castle falling apart, he saw with utmost detail the channeling of supersonic vibrations emanating from its filthy jaws, with perhaps even less than a second remaining before discharge.

But then, the clasp of an electric spark caught their auditory senses.

Only for a moment did the Gyaos turn its head in the direction of the audible pop, only for a great shadow to loom over it. Almost spastic in nature, the large, metallic hand swatted down on the bloodthirsty devil. An abrupt screech died as it splattered under the tremendous force of the gigantic hand, blood spraying everywhere from the impact. The even more disgusting sound of snapped bones churned the feral man’s stomach. Frankenstein was forced to avert his gaze, covering his eyes from the sudden shower of blood.

Once the dust settled, he peered at the one who saved him–a lopsided machine who stood nearly the same height as himself, with a thick cable and copper wires jacked into his arm socket, barely able to control the gigantic arm that was once a part of him. The deed was done, and the cable fell out of the stump, leaving Jet Jaguar limping toward the marred Frankenstein. Getting himself back on his feet, Frankenstein approached Jet, even as the castle around them collapsed.

Jet nodded, using his left hand to give a thumbs up. A token of gratitude, as his chest illuminated with a star. But rather than grow, his expended energy forced him to shrink back to human size, his remaining eye dimming and shutting down. Even if the robot couldn’t see, Frankenstein nodded in mutual appreciation. “Thank… You…” Scooping the maimed robot in his arms, he took one last look before the inevitable cave-in. What he saw was a beam of light shredding the giant hand, aimed straight up toward the sky.

The evil was gone, purged from this world. And with that, Frankenstein cradled the small robot in his arms, lost in the debris of the crumbling structure.

With one last thundering roar, Goro and Chikako collapsed to the ground as they watched the castle crumble to pieces. The massive front doors fell flat while the rocky arches detonated upon impact, the bulk of the structure falling into the river surrounding it. All that was left was rubble.

Dracula, the ghouls, the Gyaos, Frankenstein, and Jet Jaguar were gone.

She glanced over at Goro staring in disbelief. His body was frozen not in shock, but in sadness. They both knew what they encountered throughout the night and how it was enough to scare them for the rest of their lives, but that wasn’t on his mind.

Chikako didn’t need Goro to say it. Instead, she understood completely how he was feeling. He’d lost his heart. The child he brought into this world and the thing he treasured most of all.

Jet Jaguar was gone.

His mouthed quivered while his eyes welled up. Chikako sighed, as she scooted over to where he sat and wrapped her arm around his body. He looked at her and nodded his head slightly before doing the same for her.

They both turned their heads back to the ruins, continuing to think about the events that had transpired. The newly risen sun slowly continued to shine on them as Goro opened his mouth, feeling regret washing over him, “I’m sorry we couldn’t save her in time. If only I had done something sooner. I….”

Chikako cut him off as she rubbed his back softly. “I know, and you two did all you could to help. Thank you. It’s closure at least….”

They let a few more minutes of silence pass, continuing to keep a watchful eye on the ruined structure before Chikako turned over to Goro once more. “I’m sorry about Jet.”

Goro kept his frown, feeling his teeth nearly chattering from the reality that was setting in. “Thanks,” he whispered, keeping his answer short, preventing himself from breaking down.

“He really was a marvel, right?” Chikako inquired, gaining the inventor’s attention, curious as to what she was referring to. “Jet was everything you held dear to the world. Kindness, courageous, brilliant, and devoted.”

“Yeah…..” Goro choked out. “He was all of that and even more than that. He was the best.”

“The world’s a lesser place without him,” she spoke, feeling that same sadness the inventor felt for the robot that had jump-started their quest to find her sister. Without him, she would have never gotten where she was now. If only, he had made it out with them. They had both someone they held dearly.

Chikako stood up, readying to take her leave as she had enough of this place to last a lifetime. She offered a hand to the investigator who reluctantly took her, gaining his footing. They both knew they couldn’t stay forever as it would only get worse for them. The two of them took their leave, hoping to put this behind them as quickly as possible.

BAM!

Before they could get far, they heard the rubble exploding behind them. The two jumped, gazing at the newly created hole in the wreckage as they saw a bruised and bloodied hand climbing out.

BAM!

A larger hole was created as another arm came out followed by the rubble pouring down the newly created holes. To their shock, they saw the twenty foot Frankenstein crawling out of the hole, standing up, staring at the sun for what seems to be the very first time in a long time.

The immortal man felt his heart beating slowly for once as he admired the star’s beauty. He couldn’t gaze at it for long, for he noticed Goro and Chikako staring at him in disbelief. Frankenstein had previously been ordered to apprehend them, but now, he felt remorse for his actions toward them. They had been nothing but kind to him and he almost got them killed, because he couldn’t think for himself. He wouldn’t be angered or upset if they tried to enact revenge against them, but he didn’t want to die.

The Modern Prometheus held his mechanical counterpart in his arms and slowly limped toward the two. He didn’t know if they would forgive him, but at the very least, he could bring back a person they valued greatly to them. Frankenstein thought the robot he had carried was abnormal, a thing that defied god, but wasn’t disgusted by it. Instead, he saw the two of them as the same, both created to surpass their creators,

Yet, they had one glaring difference. One was viewed as a son, the other as a slave.

Goro and Chikako were baffled at the man’s actions, curious at his sudden change in behavior. With a gentle disposition, Frankenstein placed the damaged Jet Jaguar in front of them. His right arm was missing while his body leaked black fluid. Lastly, his right eye had been fractured, a hole visible to the other side.

Frankenstein handed Jet Jaguar to the inventor as Goro and Chikako smiled brightly at the Modern Prometheus. “Thank you. Thank you,” Goro repeated, feeling eternally grateful to Frankenstein for saving his son. He wanted to shake the boy’s large hand, but he had already turned his back on them.

Frankenstein walked toward the forest, not wanting to stay in case more trouble arrived. Chikako, feeling sorry for him, stepped forward. “Wait!”

Frankenstein stopped, turning around to see the woman concerned for his well being. He saw her feelings were genuine and knew he could at least stay for a moment longer to hear her inquiry. It was the least he could do.

“Where will you go?”

Frankenstein huffed. He didn’t know where to go, but he knew one thing. His options were infinite. He had been given a new lease on life and he intended to find out what he could achieve with it.

“A…. place…. where I can find…. peace,” Frankenstein answered quietly, turning his back on them and soon disappearing into the trees.

Goro and Chikako nodded, wishing him the best of his luck in his new purpose in life as they, too, turned toward bay. They each held onto the wounded Jet Jaguar, all of them agreeing to never tell this story to anyone.

Time passed long after the survivors had left the premises as the rubble erupted once more. A hand bursted out into the night sky as it clutched an egg. Victoria Frankenstein crawled out of the rubble, basking in the moonlight while she cackled in delight, being bestowed several new gifts.

Her fangs glistened against the moonlight as she grinned delightfully. She was given a new lease on life, as things she held dear to her no longer matter. Victoria held no concern over Ibuki or Frankenstein’s fates, as her attention drew elsewhere in the palm of her hand.

The sole surviving Gyaos egg and the vials of Frankenstein’s DNA were all she needed to ensure her experiments continued.

And her new gift gave her all the time she needed.

Winner: Jet Jaguar (Showa), Frankenstein

K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles

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