Authors: Dao Zang Moua & Matthew Freese | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

Four years have passed since that fateful day in 2014. The day the world learned that Monsters truly exist. As such, the once secret organization, Monarch, had been doing its best to find and study these creatures. With the knowledge of monsters now widespread, the organization now had to rush to beat out other interested groups in finding these Titans in order to both preserve and prevent their use for destructive purposes. Put under fire by the US Government, the organization was now under scrutiny by the governing bodies of several other countries, all wanting the knowledge they had gathered over decades of studying the Titans.

To some, that might seem as though all their hard work was being torn away like a leaf in the wind. For Shinichi Yamane, he was almost glad that this information was going to be spread out. The older man let out a long sigh as he sat in the back of an Osprey, a new hoverable aircraft built by Monarch. The knowledge they had gathered was mostly in ways to destroy the Titans, while some, like himself, sought to understand them. If this information was shared amongst the world, evacuation plans and emergency responses could be better created in case one of the Titans awoke and rampaged. As with how much good this would be in the long term, he had a feeling that Monarch would refuse to release it once again.

The shuddering rumble of turbulence in the machine he rode did little to ease him, as he watched one of the many government meetings about the militarization and giving the military rule of Monarch, the organization being defended by a trio of Monarch employees. Being a second generation researcher at Monarch had its benefits, allowing for a better understanding of the organization as a whole and more freedom to search new locations. However, those also came with their own problems, as his old friend Ishiro Serizawa would attest, the man currently in said debate over the organizations’ continued existence outside of the military. The two of them were close friends, both their fathers having done much work together when Monarch was first founded. Though both sought similar fields, only one was busy representing an entire organization. As such, Yamane had a bit more freedom than his more well known friend, something he liked to joke about.

However, Yamane felt that there was still something missing in his life. While Serizawa researched intently into Gojira and other titans with similar relations, Yamane preferred a more adventurous life for his old age, searching new areas for indications or hidden habitats for various undocumented Titans. His discoveries of several Titans and Titan fossils had earned him enough merit for him to simply study any of the creatures on Monarch’s radar he wanted, yet he continued on with his search for titans. Many believed he simply enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and adventure. Only he knew the truth. Unlike the others, he hadn’t felt a connection to any of the Titans he had found. None had gained his interest enough for him to devote his time to. As such, he felt as though he were always incomplete as a scientist, as though there was nothing truly worth devoting his time to.

The feed soon cut off as the pilot alerted him they were nearing the location. Staring out the side window, Yamane watched as temples of various sizes and states of decay sprawled across the land. He was on assignment to the Tharabha Gate of Bagan. A recent earthquake had opened up a sinkhole to an underground temple nearby, dating much further back than those on the surface. If it weren’t for the depictions of Titans and the constant waves of hot wind blowing through from within the temple depths, it would have gone straight to some other historical researchers rather than the Titan-oriented Monarch. If this site had nothing to offer for him, he would pass it on to another researcher to take over and head for the next potential lead, a dormant volcanic island in the pacific where rumors of a giant monster nearby have spread.

He could already see sprawling groups of various workers closing off the area and setting up research stations, all wearing protective gear. Near the gate was a massive hole in the ground, with various shrines having collapsed within. The moment the Osprey landed, he was already on his feet, meeting with a group of soldiers and researchers as he felt the unusual warmth of the surroundings.

“Dr. Yamane, I presume?” a soldier stated in a slightly broken accent, holstering his weapon to hold out a hand. “I am Lieutenant Li Xiong, second in command of the platoon sent to monitor this location.”

Yamane held out his identification pass and shook the hand, looking around at the various equipment and monitors set up.

“Has anyone found the source of the heat waves?” Yamane spoke as he looked at the ancient structure, staring more closely at the two small shrines with statues of guardian spirits. In front of those two shrines and the gate was a large sinkhole caused by the earthquake. Staring inside, he noted that it had to be at least 30-40 meters of solid rock before the chasm revealed a large eroded cavern, now lit up with various lights and equipment.

“Not yet, sir, but the heat appears to be coming from further down in the depths,” the soldier replied. “We have been sending down people in six hour intervals due to the heat inside the chamber.” The sound of hooks striking rock sounded out as several soldiers quickly shot onto the surface, each wearing temperature-regulating bodysuits and a mysterious mechanism on their waist. As they pulled themselves up, another powerful burst of warm air shot out of the hole, launching out one of the returnees who had shot off too much gas. With wires still stuck into the rock, he slammed down in an arc, back first onto the dirt at high speed. People rushed over to check on him as Yamane quickly realized what they were using.

“So that’s the O.D.M. Gear,” he said, watching as people rushed to remove the gear from the injured soldier, the wires quickly retracting back into its container. O.D.M., short for Omni-Directional Maneuver Gear. A more refined version of the Katatsumuri device that allowed for better movement in a 3-dimensional space. Upon the discovery and usage of the Katatsumuri during the MUTO Prime Incident, Monarch had quickly hired the student at Japan University who invented the device and funded her to make her invention have better maneuverability in emergencies. As such, it was soon changed from a bulky, back-mounted mechanism that shot wires up and down, to a more streamlined waist harness mechanism that fired two retractable grappling hooks using a pressurized gas-propelled pulley system. A second version that used a more controllable, gun-like trigger mechanism was in the works, under the title of A.P. Modification.

“As you can see, Doctor, the bursts of air were too powerful for us to use rappelling gear, so we asked Monarch to send us some of the prototype Maneuver Gear to get us down into the depths for the early stages,” the major replied. “However, once inside the cavern, we noticed various stone water pipes as well as ventilation holes releasing heat and water into a ravine.”

Professor Yamane stared at the scene for a moment longer, the warm air billowing past him before slowing to a breeze. He wasn’t sure what it was, but in the back of his head, the professor felt something he hadn’t before during an excavation. As though something was calling to him.

“I’m going down in the next shift,” he ordered. “Perhaps this is the one I’ve been searching for.”

After several hours of waiting and greeting the personnel already working, the professor had changed into a temperature-regulated body suit, made by Monarch to protect against radiation from Titans and the temperatures of extreme locations. The suit came with a specialized helmet made to filter air in dangerous environments, as well as allowing for video recording and built-in communications. For the last couple of hours, Yamane had spent time with the soldiers who had already tested out the gear, learning the proper aiming techniques and how to use the mechanisms. It was this excitement to find new subjects that drove the professor as he stood over the billowing hole with groups of soldiers and researchers alongside him. The previous shift had just exited the hole, leaving this next shift to work through the night.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Professor?” Lieutenant Xiong asked as he stood in the same equipment, holding his helmet in his arms. As hot air billowed out into the brisk twilight air, the professor stared into the depths before giving his response. Helmet lights on the others turned on as they prepared to leap into the depths. A large burst of warm air blew upward as several soldiers and researchers alike dove into the depths, cushioning their bodies with the winds as they fell into the depths.

“A man once said, ‘When you’re ready, nothing can stop you. If something’s stopping you, you’re not ready.’”

With his peace said, Yamane put on his helmet, hearing the hissing click as it locked into the suit, and dove into the hole. As he descended, he felt the air brushing past his suit before he shot out the anchors on his maneuver gear. Metal clamped into rock as the group descended into the depths, being sure to counteract their falling speed with bursts of compressed gas.

The thuds of boots hitting broken stone and whirring wires echoed across the chamber as the group unlatched their hooks from the walls. The moment he hit the ground, the professor felt the heat brushing up against his suit. Unlike the crisp morning air above, the chamber was filled with an uncomfortable warmth, most likely cooled by the opening above. He began to look about his surroundings, various lights illuminating the dark cavern, revealing a large underground ravine cracked on one side as rocks and soil covered parts of the flooring. Carved into the walls were bas reliefs telling the tales of some civilization of the past. The roof of the cavern had several large and small openings, each releasing small bursts of hot or warm air into the room due to the damages of the collapse. Alongside them were several stone drains that were dripping water into the room, most likely being brought down and leading back into the nearby Irrawaddy River.

“Interesting,” he spoke as he walked toward one of the walls, trying to decipher what story these carvings were telling. “How far have you gotten in exploring the temple, and how far back have you managed to date the rockface?”

“So far, we’ve managed to date the stone carvings to about over 20,000 years,” one researcher said. “Though our equipment is still analyzing the samples, that is the most recent estimate. As for the exploration, several of the tunnels are blocked off by collapsed structures.”

Staring up, he wondered what ancient civilization would make such intricate carvings, especially around that era. Most of history would state that such advancements in civilization should not have existed at such a period, yet some locations found by Monarch explorers had also, secretly, proven these ancient, and advanced for their era, civilizations existed at points where man should have still been living in caves.

As he followed the walls, he found himself on the edge of the ravine, peering into the darkness as water fell down beneath him. Pressing a button on the side of his helmet, he activated his darkened headlamp, revealing the size of the ravine was far larger than he had assumed. Darkness still overcame the light of his helmet, barely able to see the wall of the opposing side hundreds of meters across. The depths themselves were still covered in darkness, leaving the ravine to appear like an endless abyss waiting to swallow him whole.

“Careful there, sir,” one man said, staring at how close the professor was to the edge. “Wouldn’t want you to fall in now, would we?”

“Of course not,” he replied back, joking along with the researcher as he turned back to rejoin the group. As he did so, the ground began to shudder as more heat filled the chamber. Panic filled the group as small rocks and dirt fell from the ceiling, the start of an earthquake in the making. The muddied ground beneath the professor quickly began to crumble, dropping him into the depths of the ravine behind him as the rumbling stopped.

“Professor!”

Shinichi screamed as he fell into the depths, his light frantically waving back and forth. Muddy water cascaded across his body as he reached about, trying to grab hold of the triggers for the Maneuver Gear. The hiss of the hooks firing outward and the snap of the wires stopping his fall briefly stunned the professor as he dangled, his vision covered in dirty water. An accidental press of the trigger mechanism from the snap caused a burst of gas to shoot out, launching the professor through the waterfall and into some rocks, his mask cracking from the impact and forcibly detaching the grapples from the rock. .

“Gah!”

With a cracked face protector covered in dirt and water, Yamane laid stunned on wet, yet oddly warm stone. He laid there for a moment, his back hurting from falling onto the maneuver gear before slowly sitting up. Turning back, he saw the large opening concealed by the falling water, lights flickering on the other side.

“I’m alright!” he responded back, catching his breath from the rush. “I appear to have fallen into some sort of cavern.” As he stood, he felt the heat breezing past from behind, turning to see a long dark hallway covered in bas reliefs. “It seems I’ve found a passage leading further into the temple.” Static reached his ears before Captain Xiong’s voice came through.

“We are getting video responses now, we can now see what you’re seeing,” Xiong said with some static in his voice. “I’ll send some people down, but we have no way of knowing exactly where the cave opening is with all the rushing water. You’re on your own for now.”

With communications back in check, Yamane walked toward the halls, his headlight guiding his passage through the damp corridor. Peering upon the walls revealed more daily life of the civilization, though this time showing people bowing before a large pyramid with two horns. Behind the temple stood a massive beast, with horns like a triceratops, as well as two large shoulder spikes. Off to the side of the beast stood a more familiar entity to Monarch’s files, a certain ‘bringer of balance’ as his friend would say. As he looked upon the ancient art, he noticed beneath the murals were a series of ancient runic text, similar to other runic script of older civilizations.

“Do we have anyone who can translate these runes?” Yamane asked as he backed up, viewing the entire Mural revealing more runic script and what appeared to be a massive creature etched into the stonework.

“We have the translation program running over your video feed right now, but so far the only words that have been translated are ‘God of Darkness’ and ‘Bagan,’” a researcher stated.

Yamane stared upon the mural in awe, the feeling in his mind coming to fruition. This was what he was searching for, his missing piece in his monarch journey.

“Bagan,” he said, putting a hand to the mural’s horned beast.

*****

25,000 years ago

Where life may flourish, humanity will always find a way to exist. Tall, triangular buildings of red stone stood upon the open plain of the land, protected by a large stone wall. A massive city spanning the land, built near a large river with man-made waterways bringing water to and from the city. Sprawling farmland spread far outside the walls, reaching out into the land until it reached the unending forests. Wooden caravans traveled to and fro among dirt roads through the forests, buying and selling their wares among the people of the city. It was here, on the edge of the forest that the Grand Temple of Bagan stood, made to honor the civilization’s great protector and their namesake. The God of the Forests, Bagan. Stood in front of the massive temple were two towers with long spires of stone, each with a minor gate guardian statue as massive hornlike spires jutted out from the forests behind the temple.

People moved about within the courtyard of the temple, some kneeling down in prayer while others tended to the various flowers and small gardens beautifying the venue. Among them was a young woman dressed in white and green robes. Among the priests and priestesses of the temple, she was the highest rank, the divine translator between men and god. The high priestess, Hayma.

Sitting in the midst of the garden, she stared toward the massive horns jutting from behind the temple’s structures. People bowed to her as they passed her by, yet she barely paid them mind. Even now, she could feel their outermost thoughts toward her, some seeing her with respect for her position while others held jealousy toward her talent, hiding behind masks of awe. Unlike the rest of the humans, Hayma was born differently, born gifted. She was born with the power to hear and speak to the hearts of both men and gods. People like her were found and brought to temples in order to hone their gift to translate the Gods words to the people, eventually finding the god that best connected with their personality. Though that was what the masses knew, the truth of the matter was for the gifted to use their talents to bond to a god, both to drive away angered gods, and for some, to control the gods themselves.

Hayma sighed as she watched the spires move gently up and down. Even in his slumber, she could feel his thoughts in her mind. If she focused hard enough, she could even view his dreams if she so wished. Unlike what the masses would believe, the Gods didn’t speak like a human, but instead sent emotions and pictures through the bond as visions, sometimes even memories of past or future events. It was a bond that worked both ways, both beings sharing their hearts and minds together allowing them to see what the other saw. It was this bond that allowed those with her gift to connect humanity with the gods, sharing their emotions and experiences together. It was as she was viewing the glimpses of her god’s dreams, that she felt the mind of another drawing near. The mind of another god.

Thundering footsteps shook the land, causing the people to panic. Some bowed down where they stood while others began to pray in a mass panic. Hayma did neither, walking up to the top of a tower in order to do her job as the High Priestess. As she made her way up, she watched as people moved about in mad prayer, others simply continuing business as per usual. However in all of them she felt a tinge of fear among their thoughts. She pitied them, knowing that their prayers were mere chitters of ants to most gods, unlike her whose voice could be heard and understood.

Staring into the distance, she looked out into the horizon, searching for the god that was nearing. She had seen many of the great titans during her time as high priestess. Some were built like great animals, using their strength and power to overpower opponents. Others were built out of the elements themselves, showcasing the raw power of nature and reminding them of its might. However, she felt that only her god could compare to the monstrosity approaching. It’s power was something to be wary of.

In the distance, she could see it’s coal black scales, almost rocky in appearance looming closer. Jagged spines jutted up like plates of sheared obsidian, flowing down in three rows along the spine of the reptilian creature. During her time learning to harness her power, she was taught to be wary of this god amongst all others. This creature was the balance bringer, the great destroyer, the King amongst the Gods. Gojira.

Hayma stood there, staring at the massive god king as it made a path toward their city. As much as she hated having to do so, she knew only she and her god could deter the other gods of the world. With her mind made, she put her hands together in prayer, her mind pulsing with power as it began trying to connect with the oncoming god. It was a painful process, entering the mind of a god she had no bond with, yet she had to in order to keep them away from the city. However, trying to connect to this one was far harder than the others that occasionally made their way through. Briefly touching its mind, she was bombarded with information on its current purpose. Hunt, Kill, Intruder, False King. Alongside these messages came images of a great terror, one she had never seen before. A great shadow in the sky, covered by golden lightning. Pushing past the surface, she made contact with the God King’s heart, seeing the full picture for what it was. A golden destroyer descending from the stormy heavens, a harbinger of death and destruction.

Now knowing his purpose, she began sending her own messages to the god, trying to dissuade him from trudging through their home. Surprisingly, she found it much easier to be heard then with other gods, as Godzilla stopped in his path. The great leviathan turned toward her location, as though staring straight at her. A feeling of understanding came through the bond, a weaker connection of trust compared to the one she had formed with her guardian deity. Sweeping his vision across the land, he noticed the city nearby, as well as the people bowing down in zealous fervor. With the people now in his sight and the pleading of the priestess in his mind, Godzilla turned to go around the city. Sighing in relief, Hayma unclasped her hands, readying to release her connection to the foreign god now that they had come to an understanding.

This was not to be however, as a scent caught the alpha predator’s attention. Sniffing more, his eyes seemed to dilate as the powerful titan peered around once more, noticing the white spires jutting from the ground. Growling, Godzilla stood on guard, his sudden aggression catching Hayma’s attention. Blue energy pulsed through the jagged spines, lighting up patterns upon the rocky exterior as the titan king reared back. Memories flowed through the still open connection, memories Hayma had not seen before in other titans that wandered too close to the city. Unlike some of the other gods, Godzilla had been around far longer than the rest, having fought more battles than the rest of the titans ever had. It was through this experience that Hayma saw a vision, one from the long distant past.

From where she stood, great burning flames washed over the land, the corpses of various titans, even other Godzilla, laid scorched and torn apart, rivers of boiling blood flowing along the molten ground. The skies were dark with soot and ash, occasionally lit up by the golden light of the moth goddess herself. Hayma watched as the goddess of light dove, her wings crimson red with rage before a stream of blistering white fire overcame her. His hatred was felt around her as the ground shook. From below her rose an injured Godzilla, blue energy billowing like smoke from shattered spines, anger marring his features. He roared out to the cause of this great annihilation, a dark figure that was revealing in the death and destruction strewn about. Shadows covered the monster’s form, yet Hayma recognized it all the same. As the figure turned to her, blinding light filled her vision, white flame striking blue.

Gasping for breath, Hayma nearly fell over from the vision, her mind still connected to the god king. The vision she had seen showed her part of the past of her god, one she knew pieces of yet was still hidden from her. Her telekinetic power began to pulse with her panic, causing the civilians that were too close to collapse from the mental exertion. As she began to calm, the ground near the temple began to shudder. Dirt and rock shook as the mountain behind the temple slowly began to rise upward, raising skyward. Muscle and hide reddish brown, rippling with the might of the gods. Armor like great white marble covered its body, the two large spires that stood behind the temple jutting out of the shoulders like mighty pikes. Crowning his head were two large horns, a third nasal horn jutting outward like a blade of a dagger.

Having felt the panic of his priestess, Bagan, God of the Forest, roared mightily into the sky, warning the oncoming titan to back away. Upon hearing the earth shaking warning, Godzilla growled to himself. His spines continued to flicker with their azure patterns, readying in case a fight broke out. Though his hatred for this abomination filled his mind, he had more pressing matters at hand then his rage. The monster king roared back, not in challenge, but in warning. A warning that a great calamity was coming.

With the two conversing above, the people below prayed en masse in panic. They did not wish to be caught in the midst of a war between Gods. Even with her mind strained with the connection between two tense, powerful beings, Hayma still felt the innate fear of the people around her. It was over a moment later, as the god king backed away, still ready in case a battle were to break out. With the warning in place and the intruder leaving, Hayma unlatched her connection to the blue leviathan, her full attention now back on her god.

Bagan looked down toward his priestess, sensing the rolling turmoil inside her mind. It transferred to him as well, letting him share in her emotions. He wished there was something he could do to comfort her, but he was lost on how to do such a thing in the face of his past darkness. It weighed on his heart like a stone.

The stupor was broken by the low growl of Godzilla. Connected to her god, Hayma understood the meaning of the call through his mind. It terrified her.

If this was Bagan’s territory, then it was his responsibility to handle the encroaching nightmare.

The leviathan turned fully, walking away with only an occasional glance back. His heavy, booming footsteps soon faded into obscurity, leaving Bagan and Hayma with his parting message playing in their minds. Panicked murmurs amongst the people drew both their attentions to the horizon opposite Godzilla, revealing dark clouds creeping over it like grasping hands. Small flashes of yellow could be seen in the void.

The priestess quickly made her way to the crowds, rattling off commands. “Everyone, prepare yourselves! Something horrible is coming, we need to be ready to weather this encroaching storm!” She repeated this a few times as the people scattered and ensured the message was spread far and wide. She turned to face her god, closing her eyes and clasping her hands before her face.

“Please, protect us as you always have. You cannot fail here, not against this… abomination.”

Bagan bowed his head slightly. This kingdom, its forests, and its people were his life. He would fight with all he had, until the last breath left his body. The glimpses he got of this entity from his priestess were enough to tell him that this would be a fight to rattle the heavens. Stretching his muscles as he adjusted to being awake, he reassured Hayma.

With some of the fear lifted off her heart, Hayma went back to making preparations.

Hours later, night fell. Bagan rested in his usual place, the psychic waiting by his side. She was tired, but her mind was focused on something else. She closed her eyes, reaching out once more.

My god, can you hear me? She telepathically questioned. The bull dragon focused on her presence inside his mind, affirming. What did I see in Gojira’s mind? It was you but, it…

The chamber of Bagan’s mind shuddered with myriad emotion, none pleasant. Anger, sorrow, fear, and shame. It was the ancient past, before ape became man. Control was lost, vast fields of death, unending mourning for what he had done.

Hayma was taken aback when she “heard” that ever since that point, Bagan had restrained his true strength. Fearing that he would relapse and that day would happen anew. That was all he let his servant know, the rest of the knowledge locked away within recess of the colossus’ mind that could not be probed even if Hayma wished to violate his privacy as such.

She felt his disdain for himself. He saw himself as disgusting and wretched, a disgrace to titankind. How could he call himself a protector with so much blood on his hands?

Bagan suddenly felt a calming warmth in his mind, like an embrace. You have saved us in the past, no matter the danger you alone have stood to face it. In his slumber, the bull dragon’s mouth curled into a smile. Do not let your dark past define you. You have saved thousands of lives multiple times.

Suddenly, the deity was transported to a scene, one filled with terror.

A young girl ran through a city embroiled in chaos, a cacophony of agonized screams mixing with foul shrieks. People lay dying in droves, bleeding out and suffering as two-legged reptiles consumed them frantically, grey scales and a white skull-like face being stained with crimson as they ate like they had starved for a decade. Her vision was blurry from tears that continued to flow no matter how often she wiped her eyes, but even that did not stop her from noticing when one particularly colossal beast looked at her.

Despite being big enough to crush a house flat with one step, the elder Skullcrawler still saw fit to madly charge at the young child, throwing itself full fervor at a target that would provide practically no sustenance. The hoarse, rasped call that escaped its cavernous throat, rolling past teeth stained with blood and decorated with viscera, nearly deafened her.

As she turned and ran as fast as her small legs could carry her, the living nightmare’s mind brushed against hers, bombarding her with horrid images of her own mutilation and of the all encompassing madness billowing through the Skullcrawler’s mind. It was endless screaming, wrath clawing over agony only to be shoved down and overpowered by hunger, anguish returning in full force and waging war for dominance of the conscience.

The ground shook as it drew near, only making it harder for her futile attempt to flee to create distance. The young girl screamed in terror and sorrow, adrenaline trying and failing to push her to safety.

A roar that shook the heavens rang out. The earth was rocked by a tremor, sending the child falling down. She curled up into the fetal position, weeping as she awaited death, hoping it would be swift. Instead, there was another crash, combined with a call of immense agony from the cruel beast that had just tried to end her. Looking up, through her tears, she saw the Skull Devil.

Its tail, pinned and presumably crushed beneath a pillar of ivory armor. Her gaze traveled further up, managing to still witness from the bottom of her vision as the column lifted up and reduced the body of her assailant into paste.

Bagan saw himself through her eyes, standing tall and proud. The rest of the predators fled in droves, not attacking another living thing as their oft-ignored survival instinct took over. The deity looked down to the girl he had saved, face framed by glorious sunlight. Most found his glowing red eyes and sharp fangs ominous, even those loyal to him were hesitant to stare directly at his face.

But through Hayma’s young eyes, and through her eyes even now, he saw himself as a savior. From the very depths of my heart, I thank you. For everything. She revealed to him.

For the first time in eons, Bagan felt true joy.

Days passed, anxiety rising with the darkening of the skies. Rain fell constantly, starting off as a light drizzle until a few days of increasing intensity made it a torrential downpour that threatened to flood the kingdom. Colossal bolts of golden lightning tore down from the heavens, blasting apart trees with their electric might or just leaving scorched patches upon the earth. Ferocious winds rippled through the trees, plucking away leaves and pulling off branches.

Hayma was no stranger to harsh storms, but this one eclipsed any other by an immense degree. She waited within Bagan’s temple, sheltered from the soaking rain by its roof. From her perch she saw people fleeing into their homes, into stores and other similar places, and more than a few ran past the colossus standing before the temple to seek solace in the largest building. She, along with the others who tended to the temple, welcomed them in with open arms.

“The temple shall not turn you away in this dark time, come forth and be shielded on this holy ground!” Hayma spoke, lifting the burden off many shoulders as they settled into some kind of comfort. She looked out once more, seeing her god standing outside. He cared not for the torrent, the lightning and howling wind gave him no fear. Bagan just stared out into the distance, claws flexing as he prepared himself.

He did feel fear creeping through him, it was slight, but he could tell it was present. The single deadliest foe he’d ever faced was coming, how could he not feel some fear? But, Hayma was the rock his people leaned on for stability, and he was her rock in kind. The forest god remained steadfast, determined to not let weakness show.

“Bagan shall guard us, his will and body shall remain as unbroken as it has for centuries!” The head-priestess chanted to her people.

“Praise Bagan, our indomitable guardian!” Someone in the group shouted. The rest joined them in the chant, bringing a smile to Hayma’s face.

The joy in her heart faded when she sensed it. A presence of pure malice, grotesque in its desires. She subtly reached out with her mind, only to mentally recoil like she had put her hand too close to a fire. Whispers crept through her brain, incomprehensible and maddening. Throbbing pain joined them. They faded as she connected to her god once more, trusting in his strength.

Bagan looked into the bleak heavens, eyes trying to see through the shade. He knew something was in there, approaching. The colossus snarled, sharp teeth being bore. Through the lightning, he heard some repetitive sound. Sucking in air, the armored god let loose a mighty roar that rose above all other noise. Hands flew to cover ears amongst the civilians, shielding their hearing from the rolling, baritone call. Bagan’s crimson eyes narrowed as the repetitive noise became clearer.

It was laughter.

Lightning illuminated the silhouette, too complex for Bagan to make out what he was looking at in the instant before it faded. But what he did hear was the uproarious, deranged laughter layered thrice over. It was mocking, cruel, and callous.

From the clouds they descended. Golden scales enshrouded the dragon, interlocked like armor. Colossal wings carried them through the air, lengthy, bony fingers with membrane weaved between them. Twin tails swung through the air, ending in clubs that rattled with spikes. Thin yet muscular legs ended with wicked claws, primed to dig into flesh and rip it asunder. And finally, meeting Bagan’s burning gaze, three heads adorned with crowns of horns. Snake’s tongues flickered out and tasted the air. The right head met Bagan’s wrath with its own ferocity, eager to rip and tear. The left stared with curiosity, taking in the features of their soon to be foe. And the center looked with utter disdain, seeing another fool standing in the way of their divinity.

The golden serpent landed, sending mud and stone flying with the impact. They stood to their full height, spreading their wings and unfurling their necks. The sky still raged with the hurricane, the by-product of the demon’s sheer power.

King Ghidorah screeched, announcing the arrival of the almighty.

Bagan stomped the ground before him, bellowing in challenge.

The xanthic demon balked at this. Was this one not impressed, not intimidated by their display? They called toward the bull-like behemoth, trying to prod and irritate him. He did not seize the bait, merely beginning to walk forward.

The left head of the devil peered around, noticing the small structures around their feet. It transferred this information to the rest, who quickly put together what this situation was. A guardian, a giant who sought to protect the pathetic wastes of flesh and blood instead of torturing them for entertainment or snuffing them out en masse for the crime of being so weak.

King Ghidorah knew full well how to draw the hatred of these kinds of foes.

One tail rose high into the air, before coming down like a hammer onto one of the abodes, crushing it into powder. The thrice-headed fiend cackled as he felt the squish of organic matter amongst the stone.

Bagan’s slow march transformed into a full sprint, his thick legs moving at speeds that belied his mass. Hayma was taken aback at the harsh, echoing call that left her god’s maw. Something about it reminded her of the visions of his past she had seen before…

King Ghidorah’s joy was apparent with the cruel laughter that escaped their three mouths. They could just tell this would be a good fight, especially the promise of crushing the spirit of such a colossal behemoth! Getting low to the ground, the dragon’s wings came down and acted like another pair of legs, allowing them to charge forward far faster than they could have on just their legs.

The kingdom shuddered as the serpent and the bull drew closer.

With mighty calls, the two clashed, Bagan’s hands crashing into the jaws of the dragon’s outer heads with a shockwave that would have demolished any nearby structures if there had been any. They shoved, trying to overpower the other. Neither gained any ground, until King Ghidorah’s foot came up in a kick to the behemoth’s leg, sending sparks flying as claw scraped armor. The offset in balance let the defender god push his foe backward, and even when both of the demon’s feet were planted, they struggled to gain a solid foothold.

The center head of the serpent turned and brought its teeth down on the wrist of its foe, earning a cry of pain from Bagan. Pulling itself free, the head which had been locked in the grip lunged forward, bashing its skull into the behemoth’s chin. The two released each other, backing away a step. Almost immediately, the two were back on the attack.

Bagan’s claws crashed into the dragon’s chest, trying to pierce the golden scales. King Ghidorah’s heads lashed out, whipping themselves against the hide of their foe. The behemoth closed his fist, cracking it against one of the heads assailing him, earning a cry of anguish. The other two were quick to respond, clamping their jaws onto his arm and thrashing themselves back and forth to maximize damage. Armor began to crack and flake away, prompting the deity to turn his body and swing his arm, pulling it free. Swinging his own head, he tore away scales with his nasal horn, sending them and a shower of sparks falling.

Snarling, the xanthic demon beat their wings, carrying them into the air high enough to send a dual kick into the guardian’s chest, cracking the hide and forcing Bagan back. As he stumbled, the dragon flew forward, crashing their bulk into his. With their left head staying back, King Ghidorah’s other two heads lashed out, biting and tearing at their foe. Their talons stayed latched onto the god’s stomach, their twin tails coming forth to wrap around one of his arms to let the devil press the attack. Bagan struggled as he staggered back, King Ghidorah’s weight pressing down on him as more chunks of armor were torn away. He reared his free arm back, but when he swung it forward, the left head shot forward and snagged it in its jaws, ceasing his counter.

With the demon’s legs rearing back and crashing bladed kicks into his gut, trying madly to break through and pierce his gut, Bagan roared in outrage. The protrusions from his shoulders crackled with white electricity, drawing the attention of the fiend. The assault stopped as they watched the dazzling display, growing hungry for power at the sight. From the shoulders the power surged through Bagan’s upper body, reaching its destination as it danced between his trio of horns. King Ghidorah lashed out, seeking to steal this power and make it their own, only to be cut short as the god’s maw opened wide.

An immense beam of blazing plasma, banishing the darkness with an azure hue, soared forth from the chasm of Bagan’s throat. Crashing into King Ghidorah’s chest, it lifted them off their foe and carried the devil through the air for a great distance. The shrieks of anguish from the serpent echoed across the lands.

The golden fiend smashed into the ground, flattening a portion of the city beneath their mass. They began to rise after a few moments of laying still, groaning in pain as their blackened chest smoked. Bagan was already there, swinging a punch into the dragon’s gut that sent them spilling over once more, crushing more abodes in the process.

The behemoth smiled, feeling the thrill of battle course through his veins again. It was exhilarating! He slammed a stomp onto the serpent’s tails, being rewarded with a snapping sound. It had been so long since he had been met with something that would challenge him.

A brilliant light shined in King Ghidorah’s chest, quickly traveling up their throats. Bagan was taken aback at the sheer luminosity of it. The destroyer pushed themself up with their wings, then whipped around and opened their three jaws.

The bull-like beast roared in agony as golden streams of alien electricity blazed into his chest, tearing through armor and burning the flesh beneath. The trio of Gravity Beams converged into one, all focused upon maximizing damage. When the assault faded, there was a blackened hole in the deity’s armor.

Rising to their full height, King Ghidorah bashed their wing against the dazed foe, sending Bagan falling onto his side. The bull dragon’s bulk smashed into the ground, sending dust shooting into the air. Cracks spider-webbed down the streets.

The serpentine destroyer leapt with the thrust of their wings, bringing their taloned feet down onto Bagan’s side. The earth was further disturbed by the impact, tremors flowing throughout the city. Another leap, another stomp to the torso leaving cracks in the behemoth’s ivory armor.

Bagan glanced over his form, seeing the cracks in his hide slowly beginning to seal shut. He growled in disdain, they should have already healed! Had his self-imposed restraint truly dulled his capabilities this much? But, it was better to deal with this issue than that of himself unchained…

My lord, fight! I know you have the strength to overcome this demon, you can do anything as long as your resolve withstands!

His priestess’ reassurances lit a fire in the god’s gut. King Ghidorah prepared to take off once more, only for their foe to suddenly roll over, his palm slamming into the gut of the one who is many. Claws dug into scale and skin as the muscular arm drove King Ghidorah’s back into the mud. The fiend was already trying to rise, only for Bagan to once again carve a gash into the golden armor with his nasal horn.

Quickly rising to his feet, the guardian returned the favor with an immense stomp to his foe’s gut. Screeches left the trio of mouths, only growing in fervor and pitch as Bagan’s foot shot forward and caught the underside of the demon, sending the golden nightmare soaring through the air.

Stone and soaked soil defied gravity upon the devil’s impact, before slapping back down soon afterward. King Ghidorah rolled for a moment, groaning in wrath at the humiliation, but soon stopped. Back on their feet immediately, King Ghidorah charged right back toward Bagan with renewed fury.

The divine behemoth charged his plasma breath, parting his jaws and discharging the holy wrath of his power. The golden serpent beat their wings, carrying them into the air as their throats shined with the alien energy within. A trench was carved into the earth, flash-boiling the mud and reducing grass and rock to ash as Bagan’s assault missed its target.

Hayma cringed as the beam destroyed dozens of homes, hoping that no one would notice the accidental devastation. To her dismay, complaints rose behind her.

“What the hell is he doing!?” Someone shouted over a chorus of angered whispers.

King Ghidorah unleashed Gravity Bolts, sweeping them across Bagan’s form and his immediate surroundings. Lacerations as black as coal marred the bull dragon, as beautiful architecture that took months to craft became nothing in an instant.

Hayma felt pain pulse through her skull at the building wrath in the temple, as if each growl of displeasure was a smack to the head. “If it wasn’t for him, our kingdom would be powerless!” She snapped at the crowd. “Do you expect him to effortlessly destroy something that even the other gods of the world fear?”

Pulling his head up, Bagan carried his weapon into King Ghidorah’s path. Rogue energy flew off in sparks as the beams collided, the plasma breath breaking through the individual bolts. The xanthic demon ceased fire and tried to dodge, but failed to avoid the edge of one of their wings being clipped by the beam. With smoke rising from the torn membrane, King Ghidorah plummeted to the unforgiving ground.

Hayma’s words, along with the change in the battle, seemed to subdue their anger for the time, at least enough to let her be able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, she could still feel the latent rage building in their hearts, and it was taking a toll on her mind feeling so much negativity in one location.

King Ghidorah climbed to their feet, hateful snarls escaping their mouths. The left head peered over, witnessing the damage inflicted upon their wing. Smoke curled from tatters, strands of membrane falling free and sizzling away upon the mud. The information was fed to the greater conscious, only intensifying their fury.

Bagan charged into battle, twisting his body to bring his shoulder crashing into the chest of the fiend. Moist soil flew as King Ghidorah’s feet dug into the ground, immediately replying with flailing headbutts, cracking off shards of armor. The forest god’s feet dug in as well, he refused to give an inch. His claws sliced across the golden armor, tearing away scales and leaving shallow grooves.

The serpent’s foot lashed up, cracking against the guardian’s thigh. Bagan lowered his head, slamming the top of his skull against his foe’s stomach. He reared up, carving another gash with his nasal horn. King Ghidorah bit down on their foe’s horns, then swung his wings like fists to bash into the guardian’s sides.

Pain shot through his form with each strike, but Bagan focused enough to charge up another Plasma Breath, loosing it into his foe’s gut. With their scales charring and flesh bubbling, King Ghidorah was shoved back, their grip forced to be relinquished. Homes were made into powder beneath their feet as they tore through the mud.

Despite the anguish and damage wracking both titans, they marched toward each other like they had not been hit once.

King Ghidorah’s three sets of jaws clamped onto Bagan’s throat, teeth digging in. The golden demon clamped down as hard as they could, desperate to taste blood. They forced Bagan back, madly thrashing their heads back and forth.

Rearing a hand back, the bull dragon thrust it forward, driving the claws into the burnt flesh on King Ghidorah’s chest, lancing into the weakened hide and staining his fingers black. The fiend released their grip, backing away with shrieks of agony.

But the pain stabbing into his throat had outraged the forest god.

Lunging forward, one of Bagan’s hands grasped the left neck of Ghidorah, pulling it taut. The demon screeched in shock and panic, which morphed into agony when the bull dragon’s teeth clamped onto the throat. Empowered by his own agony and hatred, Bagan crushed down with all the might his jaws could muster, soon tasting the absolutely bitter wretchedness that was his foe’s blood. King Ghidorah tried to fight back, but Bagan just planted his foot in the fiend’s gut before yanking back with all he had. Gold scale parted to reveal pale flesh, which split into tenebrous fibers.

And with the snapping of tendons, Bagan ripped his foe’s head off.

The golden fiend stumbled back, vision growing blurry as blood like bile spewed forth from the stump. The two remaining minds were spinning with shock and horror, barely able to comprehend what was before them. Ignoring the bitter taste in his own mouth, Bagan crushed the skull between his mighty teeth, scattering shards of bone and globs of brain matter.

The vile sound snapped King Ghidorah back into reality, drawing a primal noise from the depths of the twin throats. This wretch would dare to disfigure the superior being? To rip away a third of their consciousness?

The wyrm would take so much more than a third in return.

Still trying to rid his mouth of the vile taste, Bagan was caught off guard as King Ghidorah entered the air with a scream devoid of reason. The wound in their wing would have stopped a prolonged flight, but it did not halt the very short airborne assault.

The destroyer slammed a foot down onto Bagan’s skull, then dropped from the air, sending the forest guardian crashing to the mud face-first. Grinding their heel against their foe’s head, King Ghidorah twisted in place and latched their other set of talons around one of the horns on Bagan’s head.

The screams of the bull dragon were muffled by the soil as King Ghidorah rushed forward, dragging the guardian behind them. Trees and crushed houses flew like ash in a fire’s backdraft as the devil purposely sought to destroy all Bagan valued. Turning toward the temple, the killer of god and man alike let loose laughter that sounded like it escaped from the pits of Tartarus.

The people within cowered, horrified at everything they witnessed, their terror growing into mortal dread as the serpent moved with all the fervor of the Skullcrawlers that had terrorized the kingdom over a decade ago.

Bagan, it’s coming toward the temple, do something! Hayma begged telepathically.

The god groaned, feeling himself be dragged once more. He lifted his head enough to gasp a deep breath, before slamming his palms into the loose ground. He pushed with all he had, earning a chorus of hatred from King Ghidorah as they were flung into the air, their feet becoming unlatched by the force.

Hayma was too busy celebrating the sight of the fiend being hurled back like trash to notice the growing dissent amongst the people for the temple being saved, but not the myriad homes King Ghidorah had torn down with Bagan’s body…

Breathing in heavy, ragged bursts, the guardian turned to face his opponent, his posture afflicted with a noticeable slouch. He needed to end this fast, he was running low on energy. If he tore off another head, surely the demon would flee. That was all he would need to do, then he could slumber…

Golden agony crashed against his face, blinding him as teeth were shattered. Cracked armor was torn asunder down his torso as King Ghidorah continued the assault, the twin streaks of luminous death dancing across their target’s form. Trying to endure the pain, Bagan charged up another discharge of plasma, his shoulders glowing with the building power as it flowed toward his maw. The golden beams stopped.

And then came again, each grander in scale as the wyrm tapped into the deep reserves of their power. They combined into one, a single spear of divine death.

Bagan stopped charging as the combined Gravity Beam tore into his groin, shattering armor like dry wood. The entire kingdom heard the wheezed groan that escaped his throat, before he fell to the earth like a crumbling tower.

Hayma gasped, her own fear only intensified by that of everyone else in the room.

“So he’s going to cause all that destruction himself, and then die!?” someone shouted.

“What kind of god only saves his temple and cares not for his people? One I would rather not worship!”

Hayma turned to the crowd of hundreds, trying to reassure them. “Please, everyone remain calm! We need to trust in Bagan, especially in this dire momen—”

There was a cracking, which echoed for all to hear. It sounded like a hundred trees snapping at once. Hayma turned to see it, even though her psychic powers revealed it to her already.

King Ghidorah had broken one of Bagan’s arms underfoot. The guardian tried to get up, shaking and coughing with anguish. One of the serpent’s necks shot forth, encircling his body to wrap around the still working arm of the god. Opening its jaws, it sank its fangs into the flesh, relishing in the sweet taste of blood. The remaining head peered at its prey, seeing a cracked portion of hide. It hooked a horn beneath it, before pulling up. The sickening sounds of it peeling away were like a melody to the devil. With one last yank, there was now a patch of exposed flesh, which it greedily bit down on like a beggar receiving a meal.

Glowing light was pulled from beneath Bagan’s skin, flowing into the teeth and down the necks like water. He writhed and moaned in agony, but it did nothing to deter the wyrm from drinking of their foe’s essence. With his power being drained, Bagan focused what remained and covered his body with white electricity. The only effect this had on his opponent was for the electricity to course over his foe’s scales, leading his power to be absorbed at double the rate. Immediately, the torn wing membrane began to sow itself back together, strands erupting from the wound and connecting together. The same was becoming true across King Ghidorah’s full body, scales regrowing to recover healing tissue, burnt flesh falling away and being renewed.

From the limp neck, tendrils emerged like the grasping feelers of a cephalopod. They attached to one another as more grew, slowly but surely reconstructing the curious aspect of the thrice-headed one.

The maelstrom of emotion amongst the hundreds, perhaps thousands, within the temple was like weights upon every inch of Hayma’s body. Her breathing was short and swift as she tried to calm herself down. The negative energy filling the chambers of the holy place made this impossible.

“After all this destruction by his hand, the so-called god will just die and leave us all at the golden dragon’s mercy!” Shouted an older woman, cradling a crying child in her arms.

Hayma tried to plead. “People, please, put your faith that he can break free and—“

“I’m not putting my faith in that wretch!” a man shouted above the groaning crowd. “He’s just as bad as the storm bringer!”

The priestess tried to respond, taking some hope in the glimmers of reverence in their deity amongst the gathered. “How can you say such a thing after he has protecte—“

“After he had destroyed our homes, yet got a second wind to fight back when his temple was in danger! How can we be sure he has not just been guarding us because we bask him in praise!” A lower ranking priest called out.

An elderly man responded before Hayma could even get a word in edgewise, his voice clearly weathered by age but still managing to echo. “We all saw how the balance bringer reacted when he drew near to Bagan! Tell us, oh great and high priestess, why the king of the gods wished to destroy our so-called god!”

“Why, he merely did not… he didn’t recognize him! Gojira knew not of our god before their encoun—“

“She’s lying, I’ve known her for years!” Shouted one of Hayma’s fellow priestesses, driving a blade of fear through the loyalist to the forest god. Even the other devotees to him were turning!

She breathed a sigh of relief when another person spoke up for Bagan. Another elderly man, who spoke with reserve and calmness. “People, please! Can you fault our lord for struggling against such a mighty foe, and for not being perfect? I am sure that Bagan shall break free and drive the demon away, as he always—“

The man cried out as another male struck him across the face, the younger man sending his elder to the ground. Gasps filled the room, but to Hayma’s dismay, she did not sense everyone in the room disagreeing with the assailant. “Shut the hell up, there’s nothing left for that demon in god’s skin to save!” he shouted.

Tears were flowing from Hayma’s eyes. “You all cannot just reject him, Bagan has saved us all so many times, this one time is enough to drive you all away?” she shouted. There was silence, an all encompassing, frightening silence.

It was quiet enough to hear someone unlatch a torch from off one of the pillars of the room. Suddenly, the commotion picked up again as a rough-looking, grizzled man charged through the crowd, holding the burning stick. He broke through the front, charging toward Hayma with a look of utter hatred in his eyes, not a single person in his path having tried to stop him.

“My family was out there, damn you and your false god, witch!” he bellowed, before burning the priestess’ face with the flame with a strike. She fell to the ground, crying out in anguish. Burns now marred her once beautiful features.

And that action ignited the kindling being wracked up inside the collective mind of the crowd.

“Death to Bagan!” The chant echoed madly as people began tearing down tapestries depicting him and his battles throughout history. Fists flew into the faces of those who supported the deity, brutal and unrelenting as hysteria became king amongst them. Other torches were unlatched and used to burn works of art and altars devoted to him, filling the chambers of the holy place with smoke and drifting ash.

Bagan wept as he sensed it all, transmitted to him from the tortured mind of his only friend. King Ghidorah let out muffled laughter, their two heads mentally conversing and sharing mockery toward the insects. Did they somehow think this display of barbarity would save them?

But the golden devil would not object to a show with their meal.

“How could you all do this!?” Hayma cried out, tears streaming from the one eye left unaffected by the assault. “After all he has done, you do this!?”

Her attacker showed no remorse as he slammed a kick into her side, bruising ribs. Another man stepped toward her, brandishing a fishing knife. Men, women, and children cheered as he approached, roaring with delight at her incoming death.

“No, please! What do you all hope to even accomplish!?” she begged of them.

The knife-wielder just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, I’m just following the crowd. I just happen to be the one with a weapon.” He replied with a toothy, sadistic grin before plunging the blade into Hayma’s stomach.

Time seemed to pause for her.

She no longer saw the people she had communed with every day of her life, those she praised Bagan with, the people of her kingdom. She saw wild animals, savages following only their herd mentality. All it took was fear to turn them into this.

She would give them something to absolutely dread.

As her blood sprayed forth from the wound, the attacker pulling the blade out and preparing to drive it in again, Hayma screamed. Not of agony, but to their dismay, in horrid hatred.

“Damn you all, pathetic scum!” She declared, the words echoing into their very minds. “Bagan breaks his body to serve you all, and you spit in his eye! I devote my life to ensuring his relation to our kingdom is good, and you do this!”

At her last word, psychic waves lashed out, sending agony through the minds of all present. The knife-wielder sliced her across the stomach by mistake as he stumbled back, but Hayma seemed to care little for the excess blood flowing from her.

Tears flowed from her eyes, but her wrath did not dim. “You all deserve what shall happen next!” Weaker-minded people fell to their knees as her mind continued lashing out in a frenzy, clutching their heads as their brains throbbed with agony. She looked to the man who had burned her, who was busy backing away with a look of mortal terror in his eyes. “Join your family.” She spoke to him, words dripping with venom.

The crowd was suddenly afflicted with horrid images flashing through their consciousnesses. Skullcrawlers ripping them asunder, blood and gore flying in all directions as they feasted. The unending hatred and misanthropy flowing through the three minds of their assailant, images of them reducing the kingdom to ash and gruesomely torturing the survivors to death.

Of Bagan’s true darkness unleashed, the corpses of gods forming a mountain beneath his feet.

All of these and more grotesque sights flashed through their brains. The absolute pain and anguish of Hayma manifesting as bile which she vomited upon them all.

The torch holding father, his mind spasming with all being forced upon it as he received it far more intense than any other, stuck his face in the flames. He accidently inhaled, pulling fire into his body and collapsing his lungs. He dropped like stones, joining the knife wielder as he plunged the blade into his own gut.

People fought amongst themselves, some compelled into blind frenzies by the psychic assault. Hayma just laughed, a broken, pained cackle that tore at her throat. The last statement the people heard from her was this, blood flowing from her mouth.

“Bare witness to the wrath that eons ago crushed the gods and made the Earth itself shudder in terror!”

A crowd rushed over to her, stomping upon her broken body in a desperate bid to end the blazing needles being driven into their psyches. She merely closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind.

Overwhelming pain. Even with the two headed serpent draining away at his life, the pain of its bite was nothing compared to the psychic power clawing into his mind. He could feel her, the one pillar of light he had left in this world. He could feel her injuries, her pain stricken body, her anger at the people, her sadness at their betrayal, but most importantly, he felt her fading away, her fading voice echoing one last message within his mind.

I know you can win this. I know what you truly are, and I don’t fear it. From the very beginning, I knew that you were the one I wanted to serve. The visions of your past only cemented my thoughts on you further. The people don’t deserve you. We protected them, showed them mercy and kindness, and they responded with fear and betrayal. So show them. Show them your true power, my friend. Unleash your power, kill that false god, and regain your title as the true ruler of this world!

With her last words embedded in his mind, the connection between man and god was severed at last. Silence filled the behemoth’s mind, the fading light of his friend’s presence turning to darkness. With her light now gone, darkness filled its void, violent and building with his rage and sorrow. Weakened by the psychic response and fueled by his feelings at the death of his only true friend in millenia, Bagan, God of the Forest was dead, and in his place, Bagan, the God of Darkness, was reborn anew.

Electricity crackled across burnt armor, surging throughout the encaptured monster’s body and into the maw of the golden demise. The golden hydra hungrily lapped up the increased electrical charge, surprised at the sudden influx of power being given off as their severed neck seemed to increase tenfold in its regeneration. Blackened ash fell to the ground, replaced by ashen white armor and blood red flesh. Red eyes glistened and crackled with electricity as power surged through his very being.

Lifting up his broken arm, he roared out in pure rage, the bones snapping into place, as he clawed into the neck restraining his other arm. Gripping with unrestrained might, he dug his claws into the beast’s golden scales, piercing deep into the foreign invader’s body. Ghidorah cringed at the pain assailing it’s other head as the third head finally finished its regenerative process, the only restraint left being the healing patch holding the head from forming.

As the center head went to unlatch the clear membrane, it heard a loud crack, something long and muscular wrapping around its horns and maw before snapping backward. Turning around, it found the source of the bindings on its body, its opponent’s tail now extended, trying to yank it off the rest of the body. As it struggled to get free, it watched as the once shattered open wound it had been biting healed like it had never been struck.

With pain striking their body, the right head continued to absorb the vast amount of power this creature was giving off. As powerful white energy surged through its neck, the head soon realized that the transfer of energy was going nowhere, coalescing and circling within itself. Confused at first, it wasn’t long before the head found itself sailing through the air, having been torn off the main body and sustained only by the energy it was absorbing. The God of Darkness roared out as he tore King Ghidorah off his body, swinging it around with his powerful tail, and tossed the golden being through the remains of the palace, sending the dragon hurtling across the land.

White electricity crackled off his flesh, his hide fully healed as his regeneration returned to its true strength. The shackled darkness within his heart was now pulsing through his veins like pitch black fire as Bagan glared at the burning temple. Millenia of restraint began lifting as the dark power surged through his body hungrily. As his strength returned to him, he heard the angered cries of the people below. Turning his head, he saw the humans staring at him in fear, the corpse of his only friend lying in a bloody puddle in their midst. Seeing the ones responsible only fueled his anger further. He would not let them defile his friend’s body any further.

There was only one fate for those who rebelled against their masters.

Those in the above ground section of the temple had little chance of survival as burning hot plasma vaporized their very being, leaving behind nothing but molten rock. Turning his head, Bagan continued to unleash his rage upon the people he had once protected, the ones that would dare to scorn his kindness and centuries of protection upon only a single battle destroying their home. The cries and pleading of those below did nothing to appease his wrath as he burned all who stood before him. Without his friend, their prayers meant nothing to him.

Stone and rubble scattered as the three headed monster exploded out of his brief tomb. Ghidorah was furious! With a loud cackle of anger, the devil’s wings opened to their full might, rocks and mud slinging backward. Turning their view, they glared murderously at the creature that dared to not only tear off their head once, but twice now. The power they had absorbed from their foe quickly kicked in, the torn stump growing at a rapid pace as the middle head tore off the remaining membrane of the other.

The side heads flexed their newly formed muscles as they turned their hatred toward the beast. Bagan simply stood there, unleashing his flames onto the buildings below. It seemed they had managed to make their prey snap. What a pathetic thing to lose one’s mind over. This would only make the coming kill all the more sweeter for them. Golden sparks built up around the dragon’s body, traveling upward to the three heads. With three consecutive roars of rage, golden destruction surged outward, coming together into a combined beam of destruction.

Hearing the crackling of lightning, Bagan stopped his divine wrath and turned to the storm bringer. Holding up a single hand, Bagan watched as the oncoming beam was completely negated, its electrical might reflecting off an invisible barrier of energy formed from his glowing claws, tearing apart the city below.

Shocked that their foe had suddenly gained a new ability to stop their beams, King Ghidorah stopped their electrical assault and charged forth on their mighty wings. Power surged from Bagan’s horns, empowering his body as the great behemoth glared at the false king before him. The nasal horn shifted, moving closer to the center of his head as he leaned forward. Within an instant, he had surged forth, crossing the vast distance between them as though his heavy bulk weighed as little as a feather.

The sudden burst of speed shocked the three headed serpent, unable to react as Bagan appeared in front of their heads, slamming horn first into their body. The powerful impact knocked the dragon backward, bones snapping like twigs upon hitting the heavily armored bulk of the dark god as they were speared through the chest by all three horns. Pain filled the golden monster’s being as Bagan flung the dragon upward off his head, his nasal horn flinging back to its normal position and slicing through flesh.

As the golden destroyer was sent backward, it had little time to react as Bagan surged forth with another burst of speed, this time grabbing ahold of the dragon’s tail and slamming them hard against the ground. The earth shook as the foreign invader cratered into the mud, bones breaking and healing as Bagan threw the dragon back toward civilization. Ghidorah flapped their wings, trying to gain air only for the ivory god to barrel into them, shattering the scales on their chest as he slashed forth with his unrestrained power. A cross of energy seemed to form with his strike, rending flesh and scales apart like paper.

The dragon crumpled across the ground, tearing through the city and sending mud and debris flying. Broken bones snapped and mended while blood pooled out of an X shaped wound with a long cut in the center going through their chest. With a powerful flap of his wings, the destroyer of worlds was airborne, launching themself out of grabbing distance. Snarling, the golden dragon watched as Bagan shot forth beneath him, electricity surging across the behemoth’s armored body as it failed to tackle the three headed monster once more.

It seems that something had changed in their foe. The right head wanted nothing more than to dive back down and tear into the insolent beast while the center head wondered where this newfound strength had come from. As the other two were arguing whether or not to dive in, the ever so curious left head was quick to act, flinging their body to the side as white plasma scorched past their location, singeing the tips of their wing. The surprise at the now intensified heat ray nearly got the dragon burned as the beam moved after them, stopping momentarily as they flew into the clouds.

Bagan’s entire being was filled with euphoric joy. The overwhelming strength, his strength, had returned to him. Such a long time restrained made the dragon god excited at the feeling of finally cutting loose once more. The heaviness of his armor was gone, his energy was unending, and his mind was far more clear without the need to protect the traitorous ants around him. As he reveled in his true strength, he glared at the false king hovering in the clouds above. He had a promise to keep. Charging up his power, he fired another blast of his plasma breath, relishing the intense heat it now emitted.

As the dragon twisted about to dodge another plasma beam, they realized it was not only his strength of body, but the potency of their enemy’s energy that had also increased. The right head screeched in anger that this creature dared to hold out so much raw power on them as the center head began surging their body with a negative charge to prepare for a large assault. Lightning slammed into the dragon’s body from above, scattering and absorbing into the dragon’s scales. It started with a single bolt, before more began to surge through the skies. Bagan watched as bolt after bolt struck the hydra’s body, before eventually the entire sky was alight with golden light, a consistent stream of electricity flowing into the dragon above.

Electricity surged across his body, converting raw energy into solid muscles as it healed his injuries. The Great Monster Zero roared out, the building energy surging throughout their body and wings before they arched their wings toward Bagan. Three streams of golden electricity shot out of the dragon’s maws, accompanied by more bolts of lightning streaming out of their wing tips. The oncoming surge of energy slammed into Bagan’s forcefield, slowly pushing the ivory destroyer back. Cracks began to form on the barrier, causing Bagan to unleash a fury filled roar. Energy crackled across his spikes as he unleashed his power upward in the form of three energy orbs. The spheres shot past Ghidorah, causing the right head to cackle in mockery. More energy spheres quickly began firing off, trails of electricity following them into the sky as the left head watched on curiously.

The barrier soon shattered from the empowered assault, scorching the dark god with unholy might. Armor burned under the electrical assault as white electricity crackled over his bare hide, mitigating some of the damage with his own electrical power. Unlike before, the bullish monster held in his painful roars, focusing his power into his shoulder spikes before roaring skyward. Taking their enemy’s roar as one of a dying creature, the center and right heads continued their assault. It was only when the left head noticed a glimmer in the sky that it realized why the spheres had soared past them. Blinding white light lit the dark storm above, causing the multi headed destroyer to stop their assault in surprise.

As Bagan’s scorched armor began regenerating, he roared out once more, the white light now shooting down like meteors. Glistening white diamonds of pure energy shot out of the stormy heavens, piercing aurum gilded armor like a hot knife through butter. King Ghidorah screeched in unholy pain as the first diamond shot through their wing, crashing into the ground and shattering into blistering hot embers. A second was quick to slice off one of their rattling tails as they dodged a third on its way toward their central head. More began to fall, prompting them to take initiative. If their foe wanted to attack them using their own storm as cover, they would show how useless the attack truly was.

Wing lightning tore through the skies themselves as The King of Terror twisted about in the sky. Diamonds shot toward the golden hydra at high speed, none striking the more agile aerial monster. Golden electricity tore into white plasma, shattering them and sending particles of light scattering across the raining sky in a myriad of rainbows. Lightning fired from the right head as it continued laying waste to the diamond assault, the center head taking control of moving the body while the left head continued monitoring the surroundings for oncoming attacks.

To the humans that remained, the stormy skies that once brought despair now appeared as a myriad of color, a deadly dance traversing the now colorful sky as the golden tyrant twisted and dismantled each attack.

White plasma struck the dragon from behind as the diamond assault ended, scales and flesh scorching under the superheated assault as the beam burned through their wing membrane. Twisting their body around, the king of terror glared fiercely at the damn creature before them that refused death. They watched as Bagan’s burns quickly began to heal up, far faster than their own healing currently was. The holes in their wings were slowly getting smaller, and their tail started the process of regrowing. They had already used up most of the power they had stolen from Bagan’s body healing their injuries, the momentary storm charge having been used up in the ensuing destruction of the energy crystals.

Bagan taunted the golden hydra from his position on the ground, energy building up as he prepared to fire another blast of his plasma breath. Seeing the sparking electricity flowing across their opponent, King Ghidorah began charging up their own attack, gold lightning crackling across their body and into their maws as they dove down to meet the demon in one final clash. Light gathered around the two demons as they fired their respective attacks. White plasma shot forth, striking the combined might of a trio of Gravity Bolts, neither side giving out. The surging power growing between the two attacks began building tremendously before a magnificent explosion overtook the two dueling monstrosities.

Minutes passed as the dust began to settle. What was once a beautiful cityscape and forest now remained a scorched plain of hills and ruins. Rising from the muddy ground, King Ghidorah shook his bruised and battered body, burns and injuries bleeding into the mud below. Their left head laid limp at the side, most likely unconscious from the resulting explosion, as the right neck was torn in half from its jawline. Their wings were tattered, but still capable of flight for the moment. They would live, but the destroyer would need to find a place to rest to recover strength.

The bruised center head looked around the battlefield, seeing no sign of their opponent anywhere. Letting loose a roar of victory, the dragon readied to fly away when a nearby mound of dirt and mud shook. From the ground burst an injured Bagan, blood oozing from several injuries as they started healing back together. The God of Darkness roared into the sky as he searched for his foe.

Seeing this abomination still alive and somehow even healing, the center head of King Ghidorah knew it would have to retreat if they were to get their revenge. They had this abomination on his knees and dying before something kickstarted a second wind for this creature. They would have to recover and grow his strength before attempting to kill this creature. Flapping rapidly, the dragon took to the skies just as Bagan found them. By the time the bulky god had reached his foe’s location, the dragon was already airborne and about to enter his storm system.

Rage filled Bagan’s mind. This creature attacked his territory, and now it was retreating all because he had shown his true power. If this creature thought they could escape Bagan’s wrath, they had another thing coming. White Lightning crackled across his spikes as he prepared to fire another Plasma blast at his enemy. Moments before he could, the limp left head suddenly came back to consciousness, a reactive burst of his gravity beam firing from his maw. The golden electricity smacked Bagan face first, blowing up his energy in his face and allowing the dragon god to reach the cover of his storm.

Time seemed to slow as he watched the dragon’s tails slowly enter the clouds above. Inside Bagan’s mind, he began thinking of ways to reach the cowardly invader. His attacks wouldn’t reach him from this range and he couldn’t leap high enough to deal damage. As his rage at failing his friend’s promise filled his mind, memories began to flow in the back of his mind. Memories of his friend surged throughout the dark energy coursing through him, memories of the days they spent together and the resonant feeling of her death. All these thoughts flowed together like a river of light in his sea of darkness. It was through this light that a new power surged through the dark gods body. For even the deepest depths of darkness must always have a light to give them meaning.

Shimmering Light burst from Bagan’s shoulder spikes, enlightening the darkness around him. The light began to shift and morph as it spread outward, glittering power surging forth as the God of Darkness took flight.

Bagan roared out as he chased after King Ghidorah, his wings of light lighting up the darkness of the storm revealing the golden hydra. Ghidorah stared back in panic. They had not expected such a heavy foe to be capable of flight! It hadn’t even had wings to bring it airborne, yet here it was in their storm. In a panic, they attempted to fire gravity bolts at the white behemoth, only for the armored dragon to shoot off into the distance, his presence only being dictated by the trail of shimmering light particles circling about his storm.

All at once, Bagan’s body surged with power as his claws extended to twice their size. White electricity covered his body as his speed increased significantly, his horns twisting and moving as he prepared to rush his foe. It was then that the alien king felt dread spreading through their body.

At a speed that belied his size, Bagan sped toward King Ghidorah, white light trailing behind him as he slashed the dragon on the side. Golden scales and chunks of meat were torn off as Bagan sped past. Before the three headed monster could react, the ivory god had already twisted and curved around, speeding toward the dragon once more and severing the right neck with his nasal horn. Another curve in the air led him slashing his large claws across the wing membranes holding the golden dragon airborne as another blow knocked the dragon upward with a slasher claw. Several times did Bagan continue this rush of attacks, his speed constantly increasing as he circled about, slashing across his prey’s body with his horns and claws. Golden flesh scattered in the storm above as the rain turned red with blood, each blow tearing off more and more flesh.

The King of Terror was in shock as they hovered, unable to move as their foe continuously hacked away at his body. The sky was alight with trailing white light, each illuminating the hydra’s figure as they sped past at Mach speed. It wasn’t until Bagan was hovering above the golden hydra did they realize just how powerful this demon god truly was. As the Ivory God of Destruction sped toward the alien Invader, King Ghidorah unleashed one last resort to hopefully buy them enough time to escape.

A duo of Gravity bolts shot forth from panicked and shredded maws. Electricity shot out of neck wounds, burning the dragon yet they continued onward, firing the golden lightning and striking Bagan’s shoulder. The shoulder spike shattered under the electrical assault combined with the speed at which Bagan was moving, destroying one of his glittering wings and leaving him off balance.

Ivory armor slammed into the golden dragon, spinning the two out of control as they shot toward the earth below. Not wanting to die, Ghidorah quickly latched onto Bagan with their two remaining heads and began draining as much as possible. In retaliation, Bagan snapped forth, tearing into and devouring the flesh of the center neck while stabbing his hand into the dragon’s gut. As they shot past the clouds, Ghidorah opened what remained of their wings, catching enough air to flip Bagan over to take the brunt of the fall damage. An explosion of dirt shot into the sky as the two crashed into the earth. The ground shook viciously upon their impact, fracturing and splitting open as lightning struck the ground around them.

The two monsters laid atop each other, bleeding and broken as the muddied earth fractured open beside them, growing wide enough to swallow them whole. King Ghidorah groaned out as they lifted themselves off Bagan, the latter’s hand having shoved completely through their chest while the dragon’s center head had been ripped off, dead in the maw of Bagan as it slipped into the ravine. The armored behemoth’s white shell was all but shattered, his limbs and shoulder protrusions broken upon impact. The blood of both monsters coated them crimson as the left head turned, finding itself the last remaining head on the main body.

The golden dragon could hear the panicked cries of more creatures, glancing into the depths of the ravine to see a horde of legged snake like creatures within various opened tunnels and chambers. The ravenous horde tore at the severed head with savage hunger, larger creatures snapping at the smaller ones in order to sate their hunger first. A snarl from the living dragon caught their attention, causing them to quickly drag away the head in fear, retreating back into their holes.

Crawling away, it looked over their body to assess the injuries, finding several large gashes and holes covering most of the body, one of the tails missing and a leg broken. Unlike the aggressive, battle hungry right head and the battle hardened leadership of the center head, the left head’s purpose was to be cautious and curious in its surroundings in order to watch for hidden and oncoming attacks. As such, it found it in their best interest to use the energy they had stolen during their fall, to heal up their shredded and nearly cut off wings.

Pain filled the body as flesh and bone rapidly grew outward from the tattered remains of his wings. It was in the left head’s best interest to be able to escape first before regaining strength to fight. As its wings healed enough to maintain a short flight, a huff of breath caught its attention. Turning their last remaining head around, the dragon watched in fear as Bagan slowly attempted to lift itself up.

His arms were broken, as were his legs and ribs, yet Bagan attempted to get to his feet. Dark flames burned in his blood red eyes as the demon got to his knees, his need to finish this battle forcing him to rise. Before he could rise any further lightning struck his face, tearing into him and pushing him closer to the ravine. The Dark God cringed as golden electricity scorched away half his sight, stopping as it revealed the bone beneath his flesh. White lightning coursed through his healing body as Bagan readied to fire his plasma breath.

With all his power surging through his body, the dragon turned to fire it all and finish off his enemy. However, he was unprepared to see the bleeding, one headed dragon already airborne, diving feet first toward him. The crack of bone shattering resounded through the land as King Ghidorah slammed into the dragon god’s skull, slashing out the dragon’s other eye with their talons. The hit to the face pushed the former guardian back just enough for his off balance, heavy bulk to cause the muddied ground he stood on to collapse, causing a landslide that pulled him into the dark ravine.

As he fell into the depths, the God of Darkness roared, unleashing all his power at once. A pillar of light shot out from his body, overtaking and filling the crack in the earth with his power. The screams of the ravenous horde filled his senses as the light lit up their dark caves. Their roars were like a chorus of the damned leading him into hell as he fell from the surface. The Golden Dragon screeched out as the power knocked them backward, watching as what seemed to be a wall of light shot skyward, piercing through the storm clouds and into the recesses of space itself.

Bagan raged as he felt his power surging out of his body, the pure energy being emitted shaking and destabilizing the foundations of the ravine. Rocks and mud quickly began to fall, as though to fill in the gap left in the earth and Bagan along with it. As the earth began to close on him, something curious began to happen to Bagan’s body. With his body severely injured and low on energy, his super regenerative ability kicked into overdrive, pulling out one last trump card to save his life. Instead of patching him up like new, instead his regeneration expanded outward like a tumorous growth, covering and shielding his body in a cocoon of flesh. As the ground began to collapse above him, the god thought back to the memories of his friend. No matter how long it took, he would be free of this prison, free to get his revenge. Free to take control of this world. Free to ensure his promise would be fulfilled.

The earth shuddered and quaked as the ground seemed to fuse back together, the wall of light dispersing into the darkness of night. The King of Terror couldn’t believe it. All this trouble, all this pain and near death, all for their foe to succumb to mother nature’s wrath. Anger and relief seemed to fill the dragon’s mind, remembering how its other heads had thought this behemoth would be a satisfying beast to take down. Now however, all it felt was the pain of wounds healing slowly along with the anger that it was not them that truly finished off the foe but an act of nature burying him in the earth. Still, it would take this as a victory for the moment.

With a single head remaining, King Ghidorah roared to the sky in triumph, spreading his wings as blood continued to leak from his many scars and injuries. What it hadn’t expected, was to get a response so quickly. A mighty roar responded to his call, one far closer and far more powerful than what it had let loose in his injured state. Looking around its surroundings, it wasn’t until a crack of lightning struck the earth miles away that he saw it.

Glowing blue energy sparking across rocky hide and serrated spines. A glare of anger and determination filling the face of the charging god king. Growling, the dragon knew it wouldn’t be able to take on the oncoming alpha predator with his injuries. With a bark of warning, Ghidorah took to the sky, flying off as the great leviathan neared.

Seeing the invader leaving so soon, Godzilla roared out in rage as he slowed down. He hadn’t expected for the earth’s dark destroyer to lose. Sniffing the air, he knew that the great destroyer of old was still alive, perhaps swallowed by the earth. Even if he had been holding back in restraint all these years, Godzilla knew that the Dark Titan should have been able to kill this creature. Perhaps the planet itself interfered and swallowed the dark dragon for a future task. Only time would tell if Bagan would return. Until then, he had a threat to the planet to destroy and balance to bring.

As Godzilla left the area, what few survivors of the titan’s wrath began to gather. Those who had lost their faith in their god began to pray for his return, some migrating away out of grief for their fallen to lands in the east. Yet it was those who had survived the attacks of the forsaken who became the most zealous in their religious fervor. They began praying for the dark god to unleash his divine wrath, seeing their survival as a sign for them to be envoys of his darkness against the ones who would betray them. As such, they would begin to rebuild, even with the destruction of most of their homes and families. Years later, they would begin tunneling beneath the ground, hoping to reach their god once more and document the great battle that had taken place, even with the ravenous devil that made the depths their home. As it was so, with the ability to flourish and sustain life given by the dark god’s unleashed power, humanity would continue to live on in the land of Bagan.

*****

Present Day

Professor Yamane dissected the new information within his mind. Despite orders to stay put, the professor had continued along the path, following the story the walls spoke of as he passed by the petrified remains of various skull crawlers. Soon, he found himself standing in front of two large doors of stone. Engraved onto the doors were the towering three headed destroyer flying above a carving of the Dark God. Yamane knew what the creature facing down Bagan was, yet the runic translations only referred to it as the one who was many. Monarch knew it as Monster Zero.

If this Bagan was a superpredator on par with the likes of Godzilla and Monster Zero, then this site which was his tomb would end up heavily guarded in order to prevent his awakening. As he touched the door, he noticed what appeared to be a stone button embedded in the wall nearby.

“Professor, it’s time for the next shift.”

Xiong’s words went over his head as the professor reached for the button. Silent whispers spoke to him in the back of his mind. A silent, almost feminine voice, beckoning him forth with promises of ancient secrets as he felt the protruding stone.

“Professor, Do you read me? It’s time to leave this dark place and return to the surface.”

Pushing the button, he heard the grinding of stone, one left unmoved in millenia. As the doors opened, the radiation detectors in his suit began to rise, a large gush of heat pushing against his body as he saw what stood behind the doors. His camera system began malfunctioning as the power being emanated short circuited its systems.

“Shit the radioactivity near him just spiked and his camera systems shut off. We need to get him out of there now!”

Yamane walked forth into the chamber, staring in awe at the massive chasm before him. In the midst of this chasm, a large orb of flesh pulsed with life, white lightning coursing through its veiny surface as heat and steam vented from its surface.

“Captain Xiong,” he said, staring with hidden glee at the discovery of this alpha titan’s dormant state, “Be sure to send a message to Monarch that I will not be accompanying Dr. Miya to Sergio Island. I believe I will be staying here to study this Bagan further.”

Unbeknownst to the professor, something began to stir in the depths of the fleshy cocoon. A mind left slumbering for millenia slowly began to stir. Unknown sounds, muffled by his fleshy prison, began filling his once silent sanctuary. Yet, among these new sounds, familiar noises and unusual calls could be heard echoing through the world. There was a conflict in the air, one that Bagan knew he would be forced to awaken for, and with his awakening, he would find the golden dragon and finish their battle. White lightning coursed around earthy brown armor, claws clenching as the dragon continued to slumber. Soon, he would awaken and fulfill his promise. Even if he had to destroy the world to do so.

Winner: King Ghidorah (Legendary)

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