Author: Connor Clennell | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

Terror and chaos had engulfed the island nation of Japan. Promises made to them had been falsified to gain their trust in matters that required their resources, and their efforts were rewarded with betrayal and destruction.

Hours ago, people from the far future of 2204 had arrived in the present time of 1992, bringing claims of their country’s extermination by the hands of Godzilla, and asked for the knowledge that the select few in this era had on the monster king’s origins in order to prevent his creation. Through their joined efforts, they travelled further back in time and displaced the creature that would become Godzilla, erasing the atomic menace from history. But the celebration of their victory distracted the modern humans from the Futurians’ true intentions…

Although Godzilla does attack Japan in the future, the country is able to recover and grow into a corrupt super power that decimates the global economy. By preventing Godzilla from being born, the Futurians had the opportunity to create their own monster in his place, to serve their goal of decimating Japan and weakening the empire of the future.

“The power of your armies is worthless against our own weapon, Prime Minister,” Chuck Wilson announced with pride over his video link to the Japanese government. “Surrender all governing power to us now and we will spare your country and people.”

With a furious scowl, Commander Takaki Aso turned to the Prime Minister. “Sir, I cannot condone negotiating with terrorists, regardless where and when they come from!” he expressed.

“I am content with this no more than you are, Commander,” replied Prime Minister Hayashida, wiping sweat from his brow with a soaked cloth. It truly pained him to see his beloved nation brought so low, but the ability to do anything about it was out of their hands. “Godzilla was the only real hope of stopping that monster. Without him, we have no real options.”

“Surely, there must!” Aso argued. “My men and I would do whatever it takes to serve our country before we submit to the likes of people like him!”

He pointed at the screen, directly at Wilson, which brought a frown onto the burgundy-haired man’s face. His scowl made even the hardened commander flinch and sweat nervously.

“It would appear that you need further convincing,” he stated with the hint of a smirk. “I shall convene with you all again when I feel you are truly ready to surrender.”

With that, the video call was terminated, sending the cabinet room in chaos as they squabbled over their response to the issued and coming threats. In the seat of the MOTHER, Wilson leaned back into his chair and tapped the armrest, attracting the attention of a technician on a nearby control panel.

“Order King Ghidorah to attack again. Leave nothing untouched.”

*****

The city still burned from the last attack hours ago. The wreckage of the military’s efforts to protect the capital occupied the streets, blocking off escape routes for the scores of people still within. Crowds were spread across the maze of buildings, led by soldiers and citizens with extensive knowledge of Fukuoka’s routes. There was little hope left for many of the survivors, who despite it all, had begun to wish for Godzilla’s presence instead, for at least he did not attack buildings and people out of spite and malice. But this new creature was far worse than the king of the monsters ever was.

The wind began to pick up, tossing scraps of metal across the tarmac and blowing weaker people off their feet. The crowds scrambled to aid them while also speeding up their retreat, as their military escorts trained their weapons skyward. But they knew that nothing could stop King Ghidorah.

The cackles of the golden dragon boomed around the city as it flew high above. Its scales glistened in the sunlight, betraying its destructive nature as its three heads scanned the ruined city. Each beat of its massive wings sent cars flying and unsound buildings toppling into the streets. King Ghidorah screeched evilly at the joyous carnage as it added to the destructive with blasts of its lightning-like Gravity Beams, tearing apart steel and concrete alike and burying the populated streets under rubble.

From the ground and sky, rockets, bullets and masers were unloaded upon the dragon, but no weapon in the Japanese’s arsenal was capable of breaking its golden scales. At best, the weapons were an irritation to the golden hydra, dragging its attention to the tanks and fighters jets that would defy it. Blasts of golden lightning swiftly removed the opposition, spreading their remains across the streets before it cackled again. To continue its attack, King Ghidorah descended to the streets, generating a powerful tremor with its landing and sending people scattering like the insects they were against the colossal dragon.

Within the chaos, a lone man watched the destruction unfold with anger in his gaze. From his rooftop spot, he had a full view of the golden monster in all its vileness. The man, whose appearance did not match his true origins, was familiar with tales of a three-headed destroyer of worlds, with manes and scales of gold and calls like that of a warning bell. Although this King Ghidorah was not the same as the creature from the legends, it seemed well on the path to filling its legacy. Shin Hayata refused to allow that future to happen, and raised the Beta Capsule with the vow to bring King Ghidorah to its end.

As he pressed the button on his device, flashing light consumed the rooftop. The phenomenon caught the attention of the hydra, which halted its attack to stare at the unusual lightshow. From the radiance, a shape quickly began to take form and solidify, taking the dragon off-guard. It took a step back, its three heads staring at each other in council as the figure took shape.

A metallic silver body reflected the glow of surrounding fires, broken by patterns of crimson adorning the chest, arms, hips and knees. Bulbous eyes glowed with yellow brightness, and a circular gem shone blue on the humanoid being’s chest.

Though this was its first encounter with the entity, King Ghidorah was consumed with an overwhelming hatred of it, greater than anything it had experienced before. It almost seemed genetic in a way, but the golden dragon did not dwell on the mystery for long. Already, it had made a vow to destroy the challenger before it had even received the order.

*****

“Ultraman!” Commander Aso gasped in shock.

The cabinet room was filled with discussion by the warrior of light’s appearance. The Prime Minister released a breath he didn’t know he had been holding and sagged back into his chair.

“Our prayers have been answered,” he said. “If anyone is going to save us now, it will be him.”

Aso was quick to object. “Don’t be so assured, Prime Minister. You forget that Ultraman had been defeated in the past.”

“Have you no faith, Takaki?” Hayashida asked. The elderly man could tell that the commander would have preferred if it were his soldiers fighting King Ghidorah right now, even if such an act would be one of suicide.

The hardened officer scoffed and turned his attention to the image of Ultraman on the screen. Although his pride would not let him admit it, he held onto the hope that Japan’s oldest defender brought. The only thing any of them could do now was wait and pray.

*****

“Damn it!” Wilson slammed his fist against the arm of his command chair, snarling in anger. “Of all times for Ultraman to return to Earth!”

“Did we not account for the possibility of his appearance,” Grenchiko reminded his seething partner. “The records implied that he was active in this decade, but did not specify when.”

“We still didn’t anticipate that he would show up,” Wilson snapped back. “He could ruin everything that we have accomplished! Years of planning ruined in an instant!”

“Have you no faith, Wilson?”

The violet-clad man seemed to calm at his compatriot’s words, his angry features melting away as he examined the situation anew. “You’re right, my friend. I am being too cautious about this,” he told Grenchiko. “We engineered the Dorats so that they would create a monster that would be Godzilla’s superior, and I have no doubt we succeeded in that.”

Grenchiko nodded his head in agreement. “Ultraman will stand no chance before our monster,” he stated, “and Japan will remember this as the second time the hero dies.”

“Yes,” Wilson agreed and laughed, before pressing a button on his control panel to issue a command directly to their creation.

“Kill him, King Ghidorah!”

*****

As the order came through its three brains, the terrible hydra screeched at Ultraman. As the warrior made to charge, King Ghidorah spat Gravity Beams from its three maws that lanced across his body. The golden assault pushed Ultraman back, making him cry out as sparks and smoke covered his front from each strike of the crackling beams. He rolled to the side, taking cover behind an emptied skyscraper that had yet to feel the golden terror’s wrath. Turning its firepower onto the structure, the barrage tore out chunks of its infrastructure at a rapid rate, but the building wouldn’t fall. With an irritated chorus of screeches, King Ghidorah flapped its wings and took to the air to gain an aerial advantage.

“Shuwatch!”

Ultraman launched into the sky as Ghidorah flew into range, slamming into the hydra’s gut. The impact kicked the breath from its lungs, leaving the golden terror momentarily defenceless as it was tackled to the broken streets. Resting atop the dragon’s chest to pin it, Ultraman chopped at its writhing, snapping heads and necks, easily fighting off their attempts to bite and ensnare him. Each head shrieked with anger with its inability to break the alien giant’s offence, but their combined mind came up with another strategy. Behind Ultraman, the three-headed mutation’s clubbed tails raised up like cobras before striking, slamming into the back of Earth’s defender and knocking him into the range of its necks with a surprised cry. Upon landing, Ultraman was quicker than ever to right and defend himself as King Ghidorah’s three heads glared. His hands lashed out, wrapping around the middle neck and wringing as the head screeched in alarm. Furthering his assault, he began to smash the constrained head against the pavement, slowly beating it into unconsciousness before its companions came to its rescue. The outer heads clamped their jaws onto Ultraman’s shoulders, pulling the M78 denizen off and tossing him aside hard.

It took several beats of its wings before King Ghidorah was able to stand upright. It took a few more to left the draconic titan off the ground so it could bring its heels down on the floored Ultraman. The hero of light noticed the three-headed monster coming, though, and rolled out of the impact zone before the dragon’s feet could find their mark. Quickly, he flipped himself onto his feet before planting a kick on the freshly landed hydra’s chest, causing King Ghidorah to stumble backward slightly. Unsatisfied with his results, Ultraman dropped low for a sweeping kick, but the golden dragon’s thick leg stopped his swooping limb and refused to topple. The alien guardian was left in close range of the hydra with little time to prepare a proper attack before it countered, and resorted to head-butting King Ghidorah square in the gut. The strike made it hiss and stumble, but the Futurian terror was far from fazed. It tucked its heads low before swinging them up in an arc, catching Ultraman in the chest with its crowns of horns and throwing him across the district to the ground.

As Ultraman recovered, the golden monster taunted him with shrieks of laughter. The warrior of light tightened his fists as he drowned out the mocking sounds from his mind. His focus was diverted to his energy stores, which were channelled to his hands as they met across his chest. With his Colour Timer between them, Ultraman focused his Specium energies around his right hand, before making a tossing motion with it and discharging a churning energy disc. The Ultra Slash cut through the air with lightning speed, but King Ghidorah’s quick reflexes outclassed it. The mutant dragon enveloped its body with its colossal wings, forming a golden shield before the jagged projectile, which barely cut into the hydra’s hide before it shattered, to Ultraman’s shock. The Ultra warrior was not stunned for long and cuffed his wrists, firing his Specium Ray at King Ghidorah’s wing barrier, but little more than a shower of sparks was produced as it was fired upon the dragon for several seconds. As the attack ceased, the three-headed monster unfurled its wings and cackled as its three heads fired their own deadly beams. However, Ultraman managed to trace the outline of a rectangle in the space before him, forming an Ultra Barrier to halt the lightning-like rays just in time. Unlike King Ghidorah’s barrier, the Gravity Beams were also reflected back, striking the three-headed terror and bathing its scales in flames, causing it to call out in pain and confusion. From across the battlefield, Ultraman glared with animosity. Two could play the game that Ghidorah had started, but he could play it better.

The hero leapt up as the smoke cleared and King Ghidorah fired again, initially striking the ground where he had stood before moving his assault upward in pursuit of the airborne warrior. Bolts of golden energy streaked across the sky, but Ultraman’s amazing speed in the air made it impossible for any of the beams to land their mark. Instead of gaining distance, the silver-and-red giant began to circle the Futurian dragon, forcing it to constantly turn in order to keep a lock on him. Faster and faster he flew, forcing King Ghidorah to spin around on the spot in its attempts to keep up. With each rotation, the three-headed monster began to grow more and more disoriented, barely able to stay standing before it eventually had to stop. Its three heads drooped and groaned as it wavered on the spot, fighting off the rising nausea. With the golden terror distracted, Ultraman came from behind and planted a flying kick on King Ghidorah’s back that sent the monster crashing down with a chorus of warbled screeches. He moved back to its twitching tails and bent down to grab the appendages firmly, using them to hoist the hydra’s seventy thousand mass in the air. As it reached the peak of its ascent, Ultraman pulled the golden monster back down to smash it against the pavement, forming a crater in the street. He repeated the action again, using momentum and King Ghidorah’s own weight to hammer it against the ground in bone-shaking blows.

With each impact, the Three-headed dragon regained a part of its consciousness. It took several strikes, but the left head eventually recovered enough clarity to counterattack, twisting around and spitting a Gravity Beam into Ultraman’s face as he lifted the dragon again. The alien warrior dropped his adversary and fell to the ground, clutching his aching face and rolling in agony. Now freed, King Ghidorah struggled to its feet as its other heads shook out of their daze. It spun to target Ultraman, discharging its crackling beams at the wounded warrior, only for him to roll out of the way in the last seconds. With his gained momentum, the humanoid defender sprang back up and adopted his signature battle stance as he glared at King Ghidorah’s snarling visages.

Both circled each other slowly, sizing the other up and analysing them for weaknesses. At the same moment, they leaped into the air, but King Ghidorah was quick to gain the altitude advantage with the aid of its powerful legs and gigantic wings. As Ultraman looked up with seconds to counteract, the three-headed dragon dove at him, slamming all three of its skulls into the champion’s chest. The applied force threw the warrior of light back with a cry of pain, crashing into a scorched skyscraper and demolishing it in an instant. A cloud of ash and smoke was kicked up, consuming the form of Ultraman as King Ghidorah cackled from above.

*****

Whispers carried around the cabinet room as the gathered members communed with each other. The atmosphere of hope that had formed was quickly fading as they continued to observe the battle.

“Ultraman is losing!” a minister exclaimed. “It won’t be long before King Ghidorah kills him!”

Looks of despair fell on the faces of those who agreed with him.

“Impossible!” another shouted, gaining murmurs of approval from the other members who refused to believe. “Ultraman has come out on top in far more perilous situations. There is still time for the tables to turn!”

The room exploded into arguments over how to proceed, with one half stating to prepare for surrender, and the other protesting to wait and give Ultraman a chance. Amidst the political chaos, the main screen flicked on to present the smiling figures of Wilson and Grenchiko, bringing silence to the chamber as they all turned to look.

“Are you happy with where you have placed your faith, Prime Minister?” Wilson asked. “Your cabinet is divided and squabbling like children over the outcome of a battle that is already confirmed.”

“Your overconfidence will be the end of you, Wilson,” Hayashida snapped at the Futurian. “Ultraman has already proven to be a match for King Ghidorah. The chance of his victory-“

The two future men barked out laughter at the older man’s display, cutting him off mid-sentence.

“What a pathetic act of misbelief,” Grenchiko stated. “I think I will enjoy seeing that confidence wash away.”

*****

Groaning, Ultraman pulled himself from the rubble and clutched his head. The beeping of his Colour Timer warned of the time he had left, but he ignored it in favour of locating his opponent. As the shroud began to clear, he could hear King Ghidorah’s sinister calls as it spotted him. The Ultra’s eyes turned to the darkened sky as the golden hydra plummeted toward his position, shimmering in the light of sunbeams. Its feet raised up to deliver a crushing dropkick, but Ultraman dropped back as the winged monster came into range and slammed into the tarmac, missing its target by mere inches. Before the dragon could refocus, he tackled it, wrapping his arms around its chest and pushing it across the landscape. King Ghidorah’s talons tore up the streets as it fought to break free, beating its wings against the surrounding buildings as the line began to grow narrower. At last, a tall office complex blocked the path, which Ultraman shoved the golden terror into to temporarily immobilise it. The Futurian terror was stunned from the impact, leaving it open as Ultraman slammed his feet into its chest in a powerful dropkick, kicking King Ghidorah straight through the structure and partially burying it in the remains.

After returning to his feet, Ultraman strode toward the pinned mutation. As he came into range, the golden terror’s tails suddenly lashed out, catching the hero off-guard as they swung into him. The spiked extremities struck the warrior from M78 on the right side of his face and ribs, knocking him to the side and forcing him to take a knee. King Ghidorah forced itself up, wrapping its outer heads around the nearby buildings to act as leverage to pull it faster. With all of its gazes on Ultraman, the draconic titan began to beat its wings rapidly, kicking up turbulent winds that hammered the landscape and forced the hero of light back. Ultraman dug his heels into the ground and covered his face with his forearms as he tried to hold out against the artificial whirlwind, taking a step forward whenever he dared. Ultimately, with nothing for his feet to securely grip, the giant was blown down and sent tumbling down the street. As the winds ceased, he started to push himself up, but golden bolts of power rained down across his form, driving shouts of agony from the starlight warrior.

Smoke and fire surrounded the guardian of Earth as the barrage came to a halt. Despite the pain consuming his body and the increasing chorus of his Colour Timer, Ultraman was reluctant to give up the fight. Pulling his fists close to his body, he channelled his energy between the two limbs as trails of emerald particles before thrusting his right arm forward and launching the collected power as a swirling beam. It had not even closed half the distance to the winged hydra before King Ghidorah took to the air, leaping out of the Ultra-Attack Ray’s path and letting out its signature, malicious cries to draw the warrior of light’s attention. All three heads fires their Gravity Beams in unison, striking Ultraman squarely in the gut and forcing a scream of uttermost torment from him as a tremendous explosion threw the Ultra to the ground. His fingers weakly grasped at the disturbed concrete and earth as he fought to stand, but King Ghidorah would have none of it. The golden dragon dropped from the sky atop Ultraman, driving its feet into the warrior’s back and pressing him into the street, gaining a pained yelp as its foe’s back was crushed beneath its immense weight. It then lifted into the air and came back down, cracking Ultraman’s bones with the impact before repeating the action again.

*****

The government of Japan could look at the screen in horror as they watched King Ghidorah smash Ultraman over and over. In the top corner of the screen, the two Futurians grinned in delight, relishing in the horrible scene.

“Your ‘hero’ has failed you,” Wilson announced with praised in his voice. “This game has been amusing, but it had delayed us enough. It’s time to make your decision, Prime Minister.”

Hayashida gulped nervously as sweat ran down his face. So much pressure was on him at this moment that would decide the future of his country, but none of the options available were favourable, and time was short. He would have to make a choice, or it would be made for him. Either way, history would be sure to remember him for this, but not as he would have hoped.

“Perhaps we can sweeten the deal?” Grenchiko offered. “If you submit control to us now, we may consider sparing Ultraman’s life as well.”

Wilson snapped to face his green-suited ally with a disapproving expression. Words began to form on his lips, but he stopped himself after considering the option and grinned. He had said they might spare him.

“No!”

The shout made heads turn in shock. Hayashida, Grenchiko and Wilson all blinked in surprise at the word that came from Commander Aso’s lips.

“I won’t yield to this terrorist bullying for a second more!” he almost bellowed, filling the room with his booming voice as he continued. “I have given my blood, sweat and tears to protect this country. As did my father, and his father before him, and all those that have served and ever will!”

Aso glared at the tiny visages of the future men on the screen with a burning passion in his eyes that seemed out of character for the toughened officer.

“Ultraman would never allow us to sacrifice our freedom for him, and I shan’t permit it either. You cannot have Japan!”

Like many of his age, he had been born recently enough to experience the misfortunes of war. His father was a captain in the military, who served and fell in the Second World War to protect the men under his command from American forces. Though he had been too young to understand at the time, he was inspired by the stories told of him and chose to follow in his footsteps.

Yet a second source of inspiration came from the time of Ultraman’s first duty on Earth. In the span of that year, the hero’s tales and acts of bravery were often recalled in news broadcasts, which won over the praise of the Japanese people. But it was the younger generation who were inspired the most. The aged commander, though far from a child in that year, was drawn by Ultraman’s power and honour. A mortal god in his eyes that chose safety over security. Although Aso had grown and hardened in times since, a part of him still looked to the warrior of light and his kin with admiration.

Returning his focus to the main image, he clenched his fist and raised it in his own form of prayer to the defender of light.

“Stand up, Ultraman!”

*****

Though far from the meeting, the words seemed to give Ultraman strength. As Ghidorah leapt up, the giant’s body began to dissolve from the head down and vanish into waves of atoms. King Ghidorah slammed into the ground and trembled from the unexpected landing. After catching itself, the dragon’s heads searched for their missing foe.

In the sky above, Ultraman began to reform. Particles congregated to assemble the humanoid from the head downward as his rebuilding shape plummeted downward at high speeds. His descent caught the golden terror’s attention as the teleportation process completed, driving his reformed foot into the dragon’s chest to stagger it. As King Ghidorah screeched and shook its heads, Ultraman reached down to hold the three-headed monster’s legs and pulled back, jerking the limbs off the ground and sending the hydra attached toppling onto its back.

The dragon cackled and beat its wings against the enclosing buildings as Ultraman leapt atop its chest, pinning it to the ground. Each of the golden monster’s head took their go at trying to bite the dual-coloured giant, but their enemy’s swift reflexes made sure that every punch and chop found their mark and deflected the snapping maws. From behind the guardian, King Ghidorah’s tails rose and lashed out, slamming into Ultraman’s back. The warrior lurched forward, but was quick to recover and turned to focus his efforts on the swaying appendages as well. Like the hydra’s heads, he was able to keep the tails at bay, but with five limbs to deal with, it was a struggle to keep up. With each passing second and successful hit, more of Ultraman’s precious light drained away. The force of his blows grew weaker and his reflexes started to slow as the gaggle of snapping limbs began to overwhelm his tiring body.

At last, King Ghidorah’s middle head broke through the defence, snapping its jaws around Ultraman’s throat. The alien gasped as the head pushed him down and he seized it at its base as he tried to pull it off, but the dragon’s grip was not to be broken. Lifting the immobilised hero up, King Ghidorah’s other limbs lifted the titanic hydra from its crater. Now standing upright again, its other heads secured Ultraman by the arms as the center one released its hold to adjust itself, coiling around the warrior’s neck and squeezing tightly. Crimson eyes narrowed in delight as they watched their prey gasp for air fruitlessly.

The rhythm and pitch of the Colour Timer grew as the last of the custodian’s power was choked out of him. For Ultraman, it was mere seconds before the warning light stopped completely and he would never rise again. Time was running out…

*****

Wilson and Grenchiko’s faces were awash with pride as they watched their creation with pride.

“Was there ever any doubt in King Ghidorah’s abilities?” Grenchiko said to the silenced council.

Wilson laughed at their cowardice. “I was certainly wrong to,” he admitted to his colleague before turning back to the screen. “And you were wrong to have any faith at all. There is no hope left for your country. No escape from our iron grasp. Once Ghidorah is finished, I will have it burn Fukouka and Toyko to the ground for your defiance.”

“No!” Hayashida pleaded.

“Yes!” the burgundy-haired American yelled back. At this point, he was drunk on power and pride, revelling in the victory yet to come. Meeting the eyes of the horrified Prime Minster, he activated the communication circuit to Ghidorah to issue the final command that would break him.

“Finish him!”

*****

King Ghidorah barely registered the order as it continued to strangle the life out of Ultraman. The fight from the giant was waning rapidly as his chest timer reached its crescendo.

Even if it was not focused on its mission, the golden monster would have failed to spot another man watching it from afar. The city itself was abandoned at this point, but he had not stayed or entered. He just seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Like Shin Hataya before him, Dan Moroboshi’s form betrayed his true status as one from the Land of Light. Unlike his brother-in-arms, he chose to take the form of a human than bond with one, which granted him more freedom in the activities as his other identity.

He watched the conflict from afar with the intention to act. King Ghidorah and the Futurians may have sought to crush the country’s hope, but in their hubris had not considered what the concept could bring.

Allies.

Digging into his coat pocket, Dan retrieved the Ultra Eye and placed it to his face, unleashing the power of his true form as spirals of light flashed in the mask’s sockets. Energy spread outward and grew in size, morphing into the same humanoid shape as Ultraman. Red skins with patterns of silver, segmented protectors and a protruding, metallic crest was the difference between the new Ultra and his comrade, but both his eyes and the green gem in his forehead shone with the same determination and desire for justice.

“Dyuwah!”

The sound rang out, catching Ultraman’s ears as he weakly turned as best as he could to look at the newcomer.

“Seven?”

*****

“Seven!” Hayashida gasped.

“Seven!” Aso expressed the same amount of surprise as his superior.

*****

“Seven?” Grenchiko exclaimed.

“Seven, Seven, Seven!” Wilson smashed his fist against the control panel as he screamed each word in fury. “Can’t the fates let us have this victory?”

Grenchiko would have tried to console his partner, but with the other M78 warrior’s arrival, even he had doubts in King Ghidorah’s might.

*****

The golden dragon in question widened his eyes at the newcomer, but did not stop throttling its target. Bringing his hands to the Eye Slugger, Ultraseven launched the blade from his head at King Ghidorah’s central head. It struck true, cutting into the hydra’s cranium and forcing the neck to unwind from Ultraman’s throat with a pained screech. The Eye Slugger continued on its path upward before a psychokinetic command from Ultraseven made it dive back to the ground and curve so as to smash into King Ghidorah’s sternum. Stunned from the blow, the golden terror relinquished its hold on Ultraman and allowed the warrior to slip to the ground as it backed away as the Eye Slugger returned to Seven’s head.

“Don’t move, I’ve got you,” Ultraseven reassured his ally as he slipped an arm under their own and hoisted them back to their feet.

“T-thank you, Seven.” Although his throat was bruised and his energy sapped, Ultraman still acknowledge his gratitude to his fellow Ultra. He slumped in their hold as he tried to stand, but Ultraseven managed to catch and support the tired guardian.

“You are in no condition to fight, but I have no time to evacuate you,” he explained. “For now, allow me to lend you some of my energy.”

His palm came over his Beam Lamp, summoning his stored energy through the gem to his arm before launching a glowing stream of light from his extended hand to Ultraman’s Colour Timer. Almost instantly, the warning jingle cut off and it shone a solid, healthy blue once more. The veteran felt his body fill with strength again, numbing the pain and strain previously upon him. Flexing his muscles, Ultraman stood tall on his own and nodded in thanks to Ultraseven.

Across from them, King Ghidorah had recovered its senses. Its three heads switched from one warrior to the other, unsure on which to pick. Foreign commands were uploaded into its consciousness, identifying the pair as its targets and to destroy them both. Ultraman and Ultraseven turned their attention to the three-headed dragon as it spread its wings and cackled promises of death. Both heroes took their unique battle poses, showing no fear to the three-headed mutant.

King Ghidorah’s flailing heads launched Gravity Beams in all directions, carving up the landscape and igniting flames and sparks around the duo, who covered their faces as they tried to defend themselves from the onslaught. Briefly, the golden dragon halted its attack to take off into the air, only to resume the barrage from above, driving the two Ultra Brothers apart from one another. As the beam storm came to an end, King Ghidorah raised its feet as it descended toward Ultraseven, delivering a powerful flying kick to the recovering guardian, knocking him back along the streets. From the side, Ghidorah’s right head spotted the charging Ultraman and it lifted off the ground once more. It spun in the air like a disc, smacking Ultraman and Ultraseven with its skulls and the tips of its tails and staggering them.

With the ground shaking as it landed, the hydra turned its focus onto Ultraman and rushed forward, heads shrieking like demons from hell. As the three maws began to lunge, the warrior of light shook out of his gaze and lifted a leg, kicking the golden monster in the chest and halting its charge. He continued by leaping up, delivering a flying kick to the same spot and causing King Ghidorah to stumble. The mutant’s outer hands dove at his throat, only to be caught by their own in the champion’s hands and smashed against the center head as it tried the same attack. Dizzily, King Ghidorah wobbled backward with its necks wavering drunkenly, where its tails were caught by the waiting Ultraseven.

Pulling hard, he yanked the dragon off its feet, sending its three heads and colossal body crashing into the ravaged streets. As it struggled to break free, Ultraman joined his brother-in-arms and took hold of the right tail, while Ultraseven shifted his grip to the left one. Together, they heaved King Ghidorah up, not just into the air, but swung the golden terror over their heads and smashed its back into the ground, driving a symphony of pained cries from the Futurian creation. In its helpless state, it resorted to flapping its enormous wings, generating powerful gusts that blinded the two warriors and forced them away. As King Ghidorah beat its wings harder, it managed to reach its feet and keep up the raging winds, adding bursts of golden lightning that assaulted the Ultra Brothers.

Rolling to different sides, the duo escaped the range of the crackling beams. Standing up first, Ultraseven caught the golden hydra’s attention as he drew his arm across his chest, firing the Emerium Ray from his head lamp. King Ghidorah instantly drew its wings around itself, allowing the beam to strike and ignite sparks against its armoured scales.

The crimson giant dropped his arm as he examined the diminutive effect his attack had. As King Ghidorah revealed itself, Ultraman came to his friend’s side.

“The outer scales are impenetrable. Our attacks can’t damage King Ghidorah while its wings surround it.”

Ultraseven seemed to consider his companion’s words as he examined the three-headed monster closer. King Ghidorah seemed to take its time, cackling and beating its wings in an attempt to intimidate its rivals.

“Immune to energy attacks, at least,” Ultraseven finally expressed his findings. He looked to Ultraman, who quickly caught onto the implied hint and nodded, agreeing to the untold plan.

In union, the pair thrust their arms forward, Ultraman resting the flat of his right hand atop his left and Ultraseven pressing his palms together to fire the Slash Ray and Ultra Spiral Beam respectively. Both attacks blasted King Ghidorah’s sternum, earning screeches of pain from the hydra. As it began to retreat, Seven swung his hands rapidly in the golden terror’s direction, launching Shuriken Rays from his fingers at its heads and necks with expert precision. Bursts of sparks and fire erupted across King Ghidorah’s upper half, forcing its heads down to its chest to protection and engulfing them in its wings, as anticipated by the M78 warriors.

Ultraseven took the Eye Slugger from his head and held it out before him. Securing the weapon in the air with his Ultra Psychokinesis, he stepped back as Ultraman performed the motions for the Ultra Slash. The crimson defender pulled his hands to one side, imparting psychic power into them as his silver counterpart pulled his arm back. Together, their limbs shot forward and discharged their collected energy at the frozen Eye Slugger, imparting it with both constructs and hurling it in their enemy’s direction. Both the Ultra Slash and Eye Slugger spun as one tool of destruction, propelled by Seven’s psychic burst at the unaware dragon and cutting through its glimmering scales like a sword through butter. In the span of seconds, King Ghidorah was overwhelmed with agony as the combined cutter tore through its wings, then sliced through the base of its center head and finally decapitated the neck at the base before shooting off into the sky behind. As the torn wings spread open, the Futurian dragon’s head and neck fell away in two sections and crashed to the earth, spilling blood across the landscape.

Its remaining heads cackled with torment and rage at the limb’s loss. Gravity Beams tore out from their throats at the galactic guardians, but Ultraman raised his barrier to block the attack while his comrade awaited his weapon’s return. As the spinning blade returned, Ultraseven leapt into the air and caught the Eye Slugger, reattaching it before dropping his extended fingers across his Beam Lamp to discharge an Emerium Ray. The emerald struck the stump of the center neck, cauterising the wound and bringing an end to the Gravity Beam assault as the remaining heads convulsed in agony.

Ultraseven dropped to the ground before his ally and sprinted toward the two-headed giant before Ultraman had even lowered his barrier. His red fists hammered against King Ghidorah’s ribcage one after the other, giving no hesitation in his assault and no chance for the hydra to react. As Ultraman arrived, he dropped to a knee and flattened his back, giving the other custodian a pedestal to leap off and dispense a pair of chops to the terror’s craniums, stunning them. Upon his landing, he rolled forward as Seven followed and leapt, extending his legs as his crimson comrade landed atop his feet and compelled him at King Ghidorah. The impact knocked the golden terror from its feet, crashing to the ground and shrieking for assistance.

The warriors of light secured each of the dual-headed mutation’s tails and heaved, lifting King Ghidorah into the air and starting to spin. For the dragon, its world became a blur of colours as the pair swung it around and faster, building momentum before finally, they released its tails and let the golden monster fly off into the sky. King Ghidorah was easy able to take control of its flight, flipping around and using its torn, but still usable wings to steer it back around. But it had gained too much distance, and its damaged body couldn’t muster the speed to close the space.

In desperation, it spat out its golden beams, each striking Ultraman and Ultraseven’s crossed arms with minimal effect against their psychokinetically-buffed defence. Both heroes spread their arms to knock the bolts aside before raising them again into unique stances. Ultraman’s hands cuffed at the wrists to form a cross, while Ultraseven rested his right elbow on the back of his left hand. Together, they fired their signature finishers at the airborne hydra, which instantly began to turn. Although King Ghidorah managed to start its new flight toward the ocean, it was still struck by the respective blasts of the Specium Ray and Wide Shot. The mutilated creature’s chest was blown open by the impact and instantly cauterised, leaving its organs charred and dangling from what ribs remained intact. Desperately, it continued to flee, ignoring the great agony and weakness spread through its body with every second.

Once it crossed into the open ocean, its movements finally began to cease. Ultraman and Ultraseven watched as the dragon managed to reach a surprising distance once to sea before it plummeted like a rock and smashed into the water’s surface. The ocean quickly swallowed King Ghidorah’s body, dragging it down into the dark depths as its blood pooled at the surface.

Only the crackling fires could be heard for the briefest moment after the dragon’s demise. At last, the brothers-in-arms turned to each other in silence and raised an arm. Ultraman and Ultraseven shook hands in victory, congratulating their efforts and bravery in the continued protection of Earth.

*****

The air in the meeting chamber was the most positive it had been in years as party leaders and ministers cheered and hollered in joy. Only the Prime Minister and Commander did not participate out of age and maturity, but let their glee know through warm smiles.

“Do you see, Takaki? Hayashida asked. “This is why we must always have faith in our protectors.”

“With all due respect, Prime Minister,” the commander countered, “it is not wise to place our faith in outside forces, no matter our opinion on them.”

“I would not imagine you would talk so negatively of Ultraman, considering your outburst earlier.”

The reminder made Aso’s face flush with embarrassment. “Do not mistake my words for criticism,” he explained. “But Ultraman’s people will not protect us forever. At some point, we will have to take on that responsibility.”

“Perhaps,” the Prime Minister agreed. “But that thought should be investigated another time. For now, enjoy the moment. I’m sure those media vultures demanding information on today’s events will ruin eventually.”

*****

Wilson slumped into his chair with an expression of shock frozen on his features. It was simply too much for the man to comprehend.

“King Ghidorah… has lost.”

Grenchiko looked over the shoulder of an operator as they rapidly pulled up readings, with one section of data catching his interest. “The microwave impulses are still being received,” he gasped. “King Ghidorah is still alive!”

“And trapped at the bottom of the sea,” Wilson reminded him. “Even if we could recover it, there is no guarantee it would survive in its correct condition.”

There was simply nothing to be down. Their resources had been drained by the travel to this time, with only enough left to return them to their time of origin. Within hours, the Japanese military would be here to take them prisoner and take the stolen technology for themselves, no doubt. They couldn’t do anything with what they had.

Unless they got more.

The idea came to Wilson, bringing a devious grin back on his lips. “Boot up MOTHER. Take us back to the twenty-second century.”

Grenchiko looked at his partner in shock. “What?” he gasped. “We can’t go back! What about Emmy?”

“Forget her,” he told him. “She was too soft for the work we were doing anyway. We have to go back if we are to save the mission.”

“But it’s suicide! You know the consequences for messing with time travel, we’d be executed on the spot!”

“Have you no faith, my friend?” Wilson asked, which seemed to silence Grenchiko’s protests. He waved his hand, giving the go-ahead for his order, and the bridge crew immediately set to work. There was a time and place for everything, and for them, it lay back where it all started.

Island 8JO.

Winner: Ultraman, Ultraseven

 

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