Author: Thomas Fairchild | Banner: Dao Zang Moua

Sweltering heat bathed San Francisco. Blue skies hung high above the rooftops, stretching past the horizon. Perched beyond it was the Sun, shedding its light upon the world. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets, unaffected by the blazing temperatures. To them, it was as natural to their lives as day and night. Tourists traveled amongst them, snapping photographs of famous landmarks. Around a street corner, a family of five broke into a sprint, juggling their belongings with every step. They were determined to catch a bus and return to their hotel.

They never expected to be scooped up and devoured by an unseen giant.

Nobody noticed the humongous cracks on the side of a skyscraper. Nobody would’ve guessed the cracks were caused by an insect larger than a jumbo jet. Nobody knew that the kaiju known as Kamacuras was still clinging to the building. And nobody would ever hear from the family again.

The giant praying mantis digested their remains. Kamacuras scanned the vicinity and all its inhabitants, contemplating the different ways it could quell its appetite. It tilted its head, faintly exposing its complexion. Kamacuras’ green carapace contrasted greatly with its surroundings. Its sharp pincers glinted in the sunlight. Bulbous eyes peered in all directions. Saliva secreted out of its mandibles, dousing an entire vacant parking lot. To the uninformed, it was nothing more but a broken pipeline.

Kamacuras’ carapace warped the light, rendering it invisible to the naked eye. No screams could be heard. There were no crowds fleeing for their lives. If Kamacuras had been seen, it was only by a few. With its cover still intact, Kamacuras moved to devour another unsuspecting family. Suddenly, the streets writhed with fear. The roads were paved by a sea of screaming people. Kamacuras pondered if it was visible, but noticed its camouflage had not been compromised. An unearthly wail drowned out the frightened people. Before Kamacuras could find its source, blinding light hindered its vision. Within an instant, Kamacuras became visible to the world. It leapt into the air, unfolding its wings from its backside and avoided death.

A fireball skimmed past the evading insect and struck the skyscraper. From within its center, the fireball detonated. The skyscraper was built to withstand earthquakes and other natural phenomenons, but its sturdy foundations could not contain the powerful flames. The explosion incinerated the complex and erupted into the streets. No matter how hard the people ran, no matter where they tried to hide, the flames swept them off the ground, reducing them to a cloud of ash.

Kamacuras flew down a street, appearing as a blur. Shockwaves rippled off its speeding form, shattering glass and other appliances. Kamacuras needn’t look back to identify its attacker. Its eyes captured the arrival of Gamera, the Guardian of the Universe! Azure hued light blazed out of his leg sockets, the wind swished past his scaly features. Gamera’s emerald eyes focused on Kamacuras speeding out of his reach. A low grumbling escaped Gamera’s throat, signaling regret. He had tried obliterating the insect earlier, but instead of succeeding, he only ended up taking hundreds of innocent lives.

It was with great sadness did Gamera realize there’d be more casualties before the day was done.

Tourists gathered to see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was one of the longest suspension bridges on the planet. To them, it was an important stop on their tour. Yet cheerful expressions were replaced by grim remorse. Plumes of dark smoke defiled the distant scenery. Before they could determine the reason, a shadow crept over them. Frightened eyes gazed up at a giant dragonfly, its size dwarfed even Kamacuras. Out of its wretched sockets, crimson orbs gaped at the herds of tourists. Megaguirus opened her ravenous jaws, revealing dozens of serrated teeth. An ear shattering screech removed any hope for those within the region. For an unexplained reason, nobody expected a quick merciful death.

Kamacuras dissipated the air with its unprecedented speed. Gamera followed in pursuit, discharging two fireballs, but he watched helplessly as they missed their target and engulfed several city blocks in a sea of fire. Before Gamera could mourn for the lives lost, Kamacuras’ wings stopped flapping. To Gamera’s surprise, Kamacuras waited in midair for Gamera to inch closer. Before Gamera could crush the praying mantis with his jaws, Kamacuras whirled onto the back of his shell, hooking its pincer between it and Gamera’s neck. It no longer needed to fly by its own accord.

Gamera howled angrily, but could not remove his unwanted hitchhiker. With its other pincer, Kamacuras clobbered the back of Gamera’s skull. Gamera’s flesh was thick, hard enough to withstand conventional weaponry and the devastating blows of other kaiju, yet Kamacuras’ sharp instrument proved effective. Green blood gushed out of Gamera’s splintered flesh. Painful cries escaped Gamera’s maw, but it only urged Kamacuras to continue its assault. Tiring of Kamacuras’ painful swipes, Gamera arched its body in a horizontal path, before tucking his head and arms into his shell.

Azure light flared out of his arm sockets. Kamacuras screeched unhappily as Gamera rapidly twirled in circles, spinning like a saucer. No longer able to hold on, Kamacuras was forced to fly in an opposite direction. Predicting Kamacuras’ trajectory wasn’t difficult for Gamera. Gamera blindsided Kamacuras by propelling his spinning form into the insect before it could utilize its supersonic speed.

On the chaotic streets, people watched Gamera push Kamacuras further away from the sky. Kamacuras gave one final shriek as Gamera drilled its body into a cloister of apartments. Mounds of concrete and dirt flew into the air. The impact shook the entire city. Dense smoke blotted out Gamera and Kamacuras’ colossal forms. But Gamera’s loud breaths informed all that he was still alive. Beneath Gamera’s gigantic mass, Kamacuras writhed in pain. Cracks had splintered its thick carapace, leaking blood. No matter its durability, not even Kamacuras could withstand Gamera’s mass crashing down on it. Burnt marks could be seen as well, the result of the energy Gamera used for his jet propulsion.

The light comprising Kamacuras’ bulbous eyes started to flicker. Gamera sensed Kamacuras’ life force dwindling. In the back of Gamera’s maw, fire churned brightly. Gamera reared his head back, preparing to deliver the final attack. But Kamacuras defied death by flying up and embedding its pincer claw deep into Gamera’s neck, avoiding the armored plates encasing his sternum. Gamera groaned, but did not abandon his quest to annihilate his foe. Seeing its defiance would soon be in vain, Kamacuras moved to avoid certain death. Gamera raised his hand, gripping one of Kamacuras’ stubby arms. Serving as a huge anchor, Gamera prevented Kamacuras from getting away. Kamacuras screeched in desperation. Gamera merely opened his mouth, heralding the departure of his fireball.

He hurled the burning mass into Kamacuras’ gut, incinerating its internal organs. Kinetic force dislodged Kamacuras out of Gamera’s clutches. Gamera watched the fireball push Kamacuras into the horizon. It exploded in midair, vaporizing Kamacuras, as burnt remnants of the praying mantis fell to the city. Gamera prepared to leave, but realized the existence of another giant insect…

Megaguirus gleefully gorged herself, leaving no survivors. She found great pleasure in cutting open cars, scooping up its occupants, and swallowing them whole. For some reason, whenever they screamed, a horrific grin crossed her face. For the past half-hour, Megaguirus was aware of the other two giants brawling a few miles away. But she cared not about their affairs. As long as they kept their distance, she wouldn’t interfere. Even if they tried to attack her, Megaguirus felt perfectly safe. Many creatures had tried breaking her broad exoskeleton, but to no avail. She took delight in remembering how she impaled them with her stinger and sucked the plasma out of them. Megaguirus relished the thought of doing it again.

Gamera’s fireball blazed past the Golden Gate Bridge. Its intense heat burned the paint off the cars. Had it been any closer, the metal would’ve melted. No humans were injured. In fact, there were no humans to be injured in the first place. Gamera knew the blame belonged to Megaguirus.

Megaguirus’ wings rapidly fluttered. Within an instant, Megaguirus’ titanic shape soared out of harm’s way. Gamera’s fireball plummeted into a hill, obliterating it. Gamera gaped at Megaguirus, ascending higher and higher, reaching aerial speeds well beyond his own. Out of the corner of his eye, Gamera saw her swiftly fly over a street, emitting destructive sonic waves that tore the suspension bridge apart.

Gamera growled, knowing he couldn’t hit her with his fireballs. He raised his foot and slammed it into the pavement. Gamera approached the bridge, shaking the earth with every step. He tilted his head, peering in the opposite direction. Megaguirus hovered a few feet away, smiling maniacally. She clobbered Gamera’s head with her claw, making him lose his equilibrium. Gamera fell onto the bridge, smashing it with his bulk. Megaguirus hovered above him, knowing she couldn’t penetrate his shell with her stinger.

Gamera rose up, breathing loudly. Megaguirus smashed her stinger against his face. Gamera wobbled in his stead, fighting to retain his balance. His mouth churned with fire, foreboding his intentions. Megaguirus flew over the damaged bridge, vibrating it with her supersonic waves. Two fireballs followed in hot pursuit. They connected with the bridge, blowing it to pieces. Megaguirus changed her trajectory, heading straight for her attacker. She rammed her stinger into Gamera’s armored sternum.

Not even its thickness could stop the stinger from burrowing deeply into his body. Gamera’s painful screams could be heard for miles. Fire once again churned within his jaws. Gamera wanted to fry Megaguirus at point blank. But Megaguirus’ stinger started siphoning the fluids out of him, preventing him from firing his primary weapon. As the flames died, Gamera writhed in agony. He could feel his bodily fluids being sucked away. His organs were being twisted and ripped out of their foundations. Gamera felt his Mana, the life force of the planet and the one thing keeping him alive, slip away…

Spikes jutted out of Gamera’s wrists. Years of evolution and adaptation enabled Gamera to protrude spikes from other parts of his body. Megaguirus screeched, knowing she had underestimated her slower opponent. Gamera swung his right wrist blade, dismembering Megaguirus’ stinger. It took all the strength he could muster, but it was enough. With her connection severed, Megaguirus reeled back, screeching in pain. Destroying her stinger set off every pain receptor in her body. All she could do was hover in midair, releasing high pitched screams.

Gamera’s eyes narrowed at his injured foe. Many lives were lost this day because of their titanic feud. In the end, the sanctity of the planet mattered more to Gamera, but its people held a special place in his heart. He’d annihilate Megaguirus and purge the world of others like her. To attain peace, sacrifices would have to be made. Innocent blood would have to be spilt. And cities would burn. Gamera accepted this.

Megaguirus fought the pain. Her last shred of concentration managed to summon the energy she had recently acquired. Energy fluctuated around her abdomen, forming an energetic sphere. Gamera was familiar with the sphere’s makeup. It was the very energy that sustained him. And now, Megaguirus sought to use Gamera’s very life force against him.

She directed the energy at Gamera. Complying with her wishes, the energy sphere fired. It grazed the air, disemboweling the ground beneath it. Megaguirus watched as Gamera stood motionless. Her pain was temporarily distorted by the thought of seeing her adversary die willingly. But when the energy ball clashed into Gamera, it did not sunder his being. Instead, he absorbed the energy and used it to augment his own. In the final moments of Megaguirus’ life, she felt a wave of failure and helplessness.

An amplified fireball burst out of Gamera’s jaws, striking Megaguirus. The ensuing explosion bathed a large portion of San Francisco in light. To many, it was as if a second sun had materialized out of thin air. Megaguirus’ charred corpse dropped from the sky, splashing in the water.

Gamera’s mouth parted, issuing a victorious roar. A torrent of smoke blew out of his leg sockets, masking his feet. Azure light replaced the legs and propelled Gamera into the sky, leaving a trail of white smoke. With one final roar, Gamera chased after the horizon, seeking other creatures committing horrendous acts.

The battle today would be long remembered by the San Francisco citizens. But to the tourists that had managed to survive the ordeal, it was a profound experience in their lives.

It was also one hell of a vacation.

Winner: Gamera (Heisei)