Author: Harley Jameson | Banner: Dao Zang Moua
There were whispers in Fukuoka of an abandoned school, lost to time. Where spirits of children wandered the halls and enticed any who stumbled across it to join their ranks and lure all who came across them to their shadowy death. But those were only rumors, right?
Two unlikely companions swooped down from the sky. Their mounts circled the school, chittering to one another in an ancient and forgotten tongue before they landed gently outside at the playground, nestling on top of one of the moss and vine coated benches. Stepping off of Fairy and Garu-Garu, Belvera and Lora looked up at the intimidating sight before them.
They could both feel the evil seeping out of every brick of the building. Dark whispers tickled at the back of their minds and every so often Lora could swear to see a shadow moving across the dirty and cracked glass of the windows. Under normal circumstances she would never dream of coming to a filthy and rotten place like this, where the thick stench of decay hung in the air like a miasma. Under normal circumstances, she would never approach her estranged sister and hug her arm for comfort, not expect to be hugged back in return. Then again, these were far from normal circumstances.
“How much time do we have left?” Lora asked Belvera quietly, feeling uneasy at their intended mission.
“Not long enough,” She replied, and although it was clear Belvera was trying to keep a brave face to her sister, her voice shook slightly to show how afraid and unsettled she was. “We need to hurry before the worst happens. With any luck, we can save the city from her wrath.”
A shiver ran through Lora as she remounted Fairy and stroked the head lightly. It chirped back in response, trying to comfort her. Lora was afraid for the city, Mothra was usually a benign and benevolent creature, one she had served faithfully for years. Yet for every light, there must be shadow. Even Mothra had a darkness lurking inside of her, a darkness the dead here wanted to bring out. They had kidnapped Moll while she was in the city and they had only minutes to try and find her before Mothra came herself to find her. Lora didn’t want to imagine the destruction that would happen if she did come.
With a click of Belvera’s tongue, the two soared into the air and Garu-Garu opened his mouth, blasting apart one of the panes of glass and they swooped in. The dark Elias shivered slightly as the whispering grew louder and swept around the abandoned classroom for her sister. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling where spiders made their home, a faded and washed out whiteboard reeked of stale dry erase marker. There were faded and yellow pictures hanging on the wall, the names of children long dead erased from the drawings.
“How did this even happen?” Lora asked breathlessly, stroking Fairy a little to calm her nerves. She looked around the room, drinking in all of the details.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Belvera confessed unhappily. “Moll was looking into it, from what I remember. Something about mysterious disappearances at the school. Of children vanishing without a trace or passing away on the grounds,” she mumbled, glancing at her sister. “They’re just stories of course, but I wonder if that’s what happened here. The death of one child and it cascades into more and more…” She trailed off, letting the silence take over once more.
It was the silence that unnerved them both the most. Lora swallowed thickly, calling out. “Moll? Moll can you hear us?”
Nothing. A breeze came in from the broken window, detaching one of the pictures and it fluttered down, landing neatly on one of the desks. She glanced at Belvera, who stepped forward and called out more sharply. “Moll! Sister, are you here? Speak out if you can hear us!”
There were whispers at the edge of Lora’s hearing. She looked around, trying to find where the sound was coming from and her eyes widened as she gazed on the whiteboard. She clutched onto Belvera and pointed up at the words that weren’t there a moment ago.
JOIN YOUR SISTER IN ETERNAL SLEEP
Belvera sneered at the crude, child-like writing. “Cheap tricks to scare us,” she scoffed dismissively. She turned, waving one hand as if to address the classroom. “Is that all you can do? Try and scare us with childish ploys like that?” She raised her chin defiantly, as if daring the spirits around her to try something more. Another picture fell from the wall.
There was another long stretch of silence. Belvera sniffed in satisfaction. “I thought so, this place is tainted but it is only filled with naughty children who have gone over their heads!” Her voice raised at the last part, glaring around the room.
Another picture fell from the wall, and landed on the floor.
Lora tugged on her sister’s arm, glancing around nervously. “Belvera, are you sure it’s wise to taunt the spirits here?”
Her sister gave another dismissive snort and climbed onto Garu-Garu. “As I said, naughty school children who have gone over their heads. I don’t see what you find so appealing about them. Come on, let’s get searching.”
Before Lora could climb onto Fairy, there was a hideous screeching noise that made them both wince. Belvera’s nostrils flared as she realized it was laughter, the sound of children all shrieking with glee at once. The pictures began bustling, rising slowly from the ground to reveal crude drawings of monsters over the years. Godzilla, Biollante, even one of Mothra herself done in faded and worn crayon. Fairy gave a screech and pushed off, sending Lora sprawling onto the desk and covering her head as the small Mothra blasted at one of the drawings with its antenna beams, shredding the paper to bits.
A loud gurgling, warped screech filled the air as the crude drawing of Godzilla peeled itself away from the portrait and flailed its stubby arms, belching out a wave of orange-colored fire that looked like it was being drawn into thin air and heading straight for Lora.
She closed her eyes, feeling the scorching heat drawing closer until she felt something grab her and jerk her into the air. Opening her eyes, she stared agape as Belvera held her aloft and pulled her onto Garu-Garu. “Don’t stare sister, it’s unsightly,” she commented, whistling sharply for her mouth.
Garu-Garu opened his mouth wide and fired a blast at the poorly drawn caricature of the King of the Monsters, blasting it apart with ease. Fairy was in the air, dueling against the poor paint drawing of Mothra, flakes of dried paint falling to the ground.
“Come on,” Belvera muttered, urging Garu-Garu past the fighting and out into the hallway. “We’re almost out of time. We can’t get distracted,” she said tersely, noting the look of worry and concern on her sister’s face. “We need to hurry or else-”
The whole building shuddered violently. All throughout the school, panes of glass shattered when a giant shadow flew overhead, disturbing the environment around them. The distant sound of sirens could be heard screaming, and there was a loud and angry screech that filled the air with seething rage.
Lora clutched onto Belvera tightly. “We’re too late. She’s coming,” she whispered fearfully. The distant sound of explosions brought a chill to her soul as she imagined what the slaughter outside must be like.
Belvera kicked her heels into Garu-Garu, who surged forward faster. “Then we must hurry, or else the city will be a wasteland,” she said grimly, calling out loudly for Moll. Garu-Garu swerved as knives and sharp pencils scattered around them, embedding themselves into the wall as ghostly pale faces began emerging from every angle. Giggles of laughter and jeers from the children sounded all around. Hands reached out to snatch at them in air, only to be swatted aside by Belvera’s sword. She swung it fiercely in the air, daring any of their ghostly hands to attack her.
A loud chirp filled the air again, only this time Fairy burst through the cacophony of noise and ghostly images and swooped forward, blasting away at the spirits ferociously and shattered the illusions surrounding them, revealing the same decrepit and rotten school hallways that they had started in.
Lora and Belvera were quiet for a long time as they checked from room to room, trying to find any trace or any sign of their sister. It was only when they reached the final room in the building did they see Moll standing there, her back toward them. “Sister!” Lora called out, hopping off Garu-Garu before he even landed on the desk and running toward her. “Moll, are you okay?”
“It’s too late,” Moll said quietly, but the words seemed to echo as if she had shouted.
Lora frowned, pushing away Belvera’s hand and taking a step closer. “Moll? Sister? What’s the matter? Are you alright?”
“It’s too late,” Moll said again, turning her head slightly. Her skin was ghastly pale, her hair covering her eyes. “You’re too late, sister.” Her tone was flat and dead. She craned her head to look at Lora, her eyes as black as the night itself. “You were too late for me,” she murmured, turning fully and reaching out a hand toward Lora.
She recoiled instantly with a sharp gasp of horror, trembling slightly in fear. “Moll?” she whispered quietly, reaching out slowly to touch her only to have Belvera grab her roughly and pulled her back. “Moll, what happened to you?”
“I waited,” Moll hissed, tears rolling down her unnatural face. “I waited and waited. I prayed, prayed for you or Belvera to come. But you didn’t, did you? Not until it was too late.” Her face twisted into a snarl, glaring at her sisters. “You let me die.”
“A trick!” Belvera spat out, glaring at the ghostly image of her sister. “If you think we’ll be fooled by such nonsense then you’re sadly mistaken.” Despite the venom in her words, her grip turned white on Lora’s arm. She could feel her sister trembling slightly and her voice shook just the tiniest amount. Belvera was afraid, and somehow that scared Lora even more.
Moll smiled at her sisters coldly, revealing an empty void where her mouth should be. “Why don’t I show you, sisters?” She opened her mouth, tilting her head up. And began to sing.
It was a familiar song, a song that ran in the Elias’ family for generations. One that every priestess of Mothra took to heart and guarded closely. Only the pitch and tone were distorted, a chorus of undead voices joining Moll’s to summon forth the deity that would bolster their ranks tenfold. Lora and Belvera held onto each other, listening to the spirits chant and wail for Mothra to arrive and begin her terrible vengeance.
“They can’t,” Lora said in disbelief, watching in agony as her sister faded away into nothingness, to join the spirits that had claimed her.
A loud shriek filled the air. The building rumbled violently and throughout the entire school windows shattered and a powerful gust of wind nearly knocked Lora and Belvera off of the desk they were on as part of the roof tore off violently from the winds. A dark shadow crossed the open skies and there was another shriek, followed by the sounds of distant explosions. Mothra had come searching for her priestess.
“Belvera, what do we do now?” Lora asked, watching as her sister mounted Garu-Garu and motioned for Lora to do the same to Fairy.
“We run, that’s all we can do,” she said simply, before taking off in the air.
Lora watched her for a moment, before climbing onto Fairy and guiding it up to her sister. “No,” she said sternly, flying out of the broken windows and up into the sky. “We can’t let Mothra destroy the city, it’s not right.”
She watched in agony as the harsh winds spilled cars and debris across the road, crashing and bumping into each other, sending metal and glass flying across the city. One of the cars erupted into a small explosion, the fireball belching black smoke into the air as Mothra circled around like a vulture, scanning for the one who wasn’t there. Her antennae lit up and lightning rained down from her wings, scattering concrete and building plaster like it was made out of paper. One of the skyscrapers buckled violently before collapsing in on itself, sending plumes of dust everywhere.
“We have to stop this,” Lora murmured. Tears stung at her eyes but she blinked them away stubbornly, as much as she wanted to cry and grieve, she still had a duty to the people of this planet and she wasn’t going to let them down. “There is someone who can stop this.”
Belvera locked eyes with her sister, who frowned at her. “You don’t mean?” she asked, frowning harder when Lora nodded.
“Sister, there’s a good chance he won’t even answer our call. It’s been,” she paused for a moment, staring off into the sky. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do something like that. I’m afraid that I’m too far gone for him to hear. I wouldn’t be surprised if I can even sing those songs anymore.”
Moving over to her sister, Lora reached out and held her hands gently. “Believe in yourself Belvera. You want this to end as much as I do. Please, I can’t do it by myself.” She gave her a small, encouraging smile. “And it would be lovely to hear your voice again after so long.”
Belvera turned her head to hide her embarrassment, but she squeezed Lora’s hand and took a deep breath. “Alright, we can try. But I make no promises.” She fought down a smile at the one her sister gave, and cleared her throat awkwardly. She took another breath, and began to sing in a low, somber tone.
Lora joined her, matching her pitch and volume as they sang to the one entity on the planet that could stop their rampaging deity. A song that rang across the Earth, pleading for help in a time of need, telling of the death and destruction that was happening. That one of their own had died.
Deep below the North Sea, something old and ancient stirred. The song had reached him, and at first he was confused as to what it was before he recognized it. It had been a long time since he had been called in such a manner, and the more he gleaned from the ethereal music, the more he weighed his options.
He didn’t care for humanity, they polluted the planet and burned her resources. Destroyed her natural beauty and made it barren. They were almost as bad as the Cosmos. But, he knew that they needed guidance. They could still avert their path before it was too late, and the Earth needed a balance, one that he could tell was being upset.
If anyone had been watching, they would see a dark purple light glow underneath the waves. They churned violently, the light flashing rapidly until a geyser of energy burst through the waves and they parted violently. A shrill, sharp cry echoed across the empty sky as a black figure tore off toward Fukuoka. Battra had heard their call and would heed it.
Mothra was on a rampage, tearing buildings apart callously to find her missing priestess. She could hear the song in her head, crying out in pain for her help and could sense that she was near, but it was like grasping at smoke. It was only when another shrill cry boomed through the air that Mothra temporarily gave up her search and swirled around.
Battra cried out again at his counterpart, wanting to know why she was attacking the humans she swore to protect. When he received the answer, he hesitated for a moment to figure out a response. Finally, he called back to her question of why he was here, and Mothra let out a disbelieving shriek.
Calling out again, Battra’s tone grew more aggressive and hostile. It was not his fault that Mothra wouldn’t believe that he had actually been asked by the remaining Elias to stop her rampage. It occurred to him that Mothra wasn’t aware of the fact one of her priestesses had perished. Well, better late than never.
He gave one final cry, before he shrieked in pain when Beam Pulsars slammed into his chest and forced him staggering back. Battra’s rage overtook his other sense and he bellowed in anger, his eyes flashing before a burst of his Prism Beams ripped through the air and blew apart the building Mothra was fluttering over, the moth swerving neatly out of the way. Battra took chase after her, firing volley after volley of prism beams that all went wide and missed.
Electricity crackled in the air, and Battra beat his wings frantically as lightning tore out from Mothra’s wings and honed in on him, forcing him to swerve awkwardly just to avoid it all. He gave a strangled cry of pain as Mothra latched onto him, energy sparking from her claws and all over his body.
Thrashing wildly, Battra channeled his own awesome powers and the opposing energies surged, forcing both the moths apart as a tremendous explosion filled the sky. Battra fired another blast of his prism beams that slammed into Mothra’s chest, forcing her back with a shriek of pain.
Shaking his head a little to clear it, Battra dove sharply to avoid another blast of her Beam Pulsars and weaved through the buildings of the city. Glass rained around him, casting an odd refraction of light that glistened as Mothra soared overhead, drenching the area in her reflective powder.
Battra could hear the electricity crackling in the air, and felt himself coated in her reflective scales. He could see the shoreline in the distance, but he couldn’t see any immediate way to close the gap before he was electrocuted to high heaven. The discharge was growing heavier, and out of desperation Battra smashed himself through one of the buildings and out on the other side. He shook the debris from his wings desperately to try and remain airborne as the lightning from Mothra’s wings cascaded down behind him, lighting the whole block up in a massive explosion of energy that sent him spiraling in the air. Righting himself, he dove toward the water and into it, letting it wash Mothra’s scales off before bursting out and soaring high into the air, craning his head to watch Mothra blazing after him.
Shuddering to himself, he started to shed his own scales behind him. The orange powder glittered in the sunlight as it trailed behind him and down onto the water. Mothra, in her fury, failed to stop herself in time before she was drenched in his poisonous scales and she chirped in agony, shuddering and swaying drunkenly as she felt the poison leeching at her.
Whirling around, Battra fired his Prism Beams at his counterpart, the purple beams smashing into Mothra’s already bruised chest again and sending her dipping down toward the water, her wings spraying seafoam everywhere as she tried to keep herself upright. Swooping down, Battra slammed down on her back and channeled his energy through his own claws, water exploding around him as Mothra was shunted into the depths below him with a gurgling cry. He moved up quickly, watching the water intently.
A silence washed over the battlefield, and Battra wondered if he had accidentally killed Mothra. He stayed cautiously above the surface, eyeing the water carefully to see if he could spot his counterpart somewhere in the depths below.
When he saw her body floating up toward the surface, he reacted on instinct and fired volley after volley of his Prism Beams, the purple energy bolts tearing into the water as explosions began to bubble up to the surface. The water was stained yellow with the divine moth’s blood, and Battra knew that Mothra had finally died.
Despite his victory, he felt no satisfaction from it. He hovered there for a while, staring down at his counterpart’s corpse sadly. He looked around the city, knowing that the little humans would need a champion until another Mothra was prepared to take the mantle again.
Well, he supposed he could become that champion for the time being. He may not like it all that much, but Battra was willing to do it in honor of her memory. Turning, he fixed his gaze on where it all started. The school, oozing malice and ill intent. They would pay dearly for what had happened today.
Tearing off, Battra let out a thundering war cry and rained hell down upon the dark school. Shattering the building apart with his prism beams and coating the whole thing in his orange poison scales before unleashing another vicious volley of his beams again. He could hear the warped screams of the damned as he blasted them back into eternity, and he relished in them as they finally died down and there was nothing left but a smoldering wreck.
He turned, and began to fly back toward Infant Island. Belvera and Lora would likely be waiting for him there, with the egg that he would protect with his life. It may not be home, but perhaps in time, he would learn to accept it as such.