Author: Joel Forsberg | Banner: Dao Zang Moua
It was the dead of summer in California, but the hot air was easily combated by the shade of the towering redwood forests. Hikers wandered the hills, photographers captured the scenery, and climbers rappelled down the slopes. Between the amazing weather and sprawling beauty of the landscape, it felt that nothing could ruin this beautiful day.
Everyone in the park felt the earth spasm beneath their feet, dirt shifting and stones falling. The quake gave way to a fracture, which in turn gave way to a chasm. Tourists and massive trees alike fell into the ever growing tunnel, but only the latter hit the ground. Before the humans could fall any further, they were swallowed up by the creature within.
Baragon, the subterranean scourge, burst from the ravine he had created. A mighty bellow escaped his tooth filled maw, its percussiveness rivaling that of the earthquake he had caused tunneling through the ground. For two weeks, Baragon had ravaged through San Diego, dining on all the tiny primates he desired; however, humanity was not so easy to surrender. They came with tanks, rifles and even missiles. They pelted the rampaging kaiju, stinging his crimson hide and forcing the crimson dinosaur to flee underground with a half-empty belly.
Baragon did not appreciate his prey’s reluctance to be consumed. So he decided to snack on something that would not fight back; or, rather, something that couldn’t.
The reptile followed his nose, and it had brought him here – the mighty redwood forests.
As he finished announcing his presence, Baragon took notice of his surroundings for the first time and looked around in awe. Even on his hind legs, the canopy towered a hundred feet above the dinosaur. Back on Monster Island, he had used trees to pick his teeth. Now, the things looked like they could crush him!
As he contemplated, Baragon moved where his nose told him to go. The dragon absent mindedly wandered through the forest, subconsciously hunting the mouth-watering scent. It wasn’t long before the feeling of cold water on his feet woke Baragon from his trance. He shook his head and gazed upon the river enveloping his feet, following the flow to find its source; a massive cascading waterfall, crashing from a high cliff. He grinned maniacally and pressed his scaly head through the water…
It was more beautiful than he ever imagined.
Behind the falling waters was a dark cave. The floor and walls were lined with thousands of white-yellow eggs, all taller than the tiny primates he feasted on before. His gaping mouth was filled to the brim with saliva as he stared upon his personal buffet.
The kaiju shook his head and howled happily, then began moving toward his prize. But as he progressed, his snout bumped into something. Startled, Baragon snorted and pawed at his snout, rubbing the sore spot. It was strange. He had seen nothing there before.
He looked up to meet a pair of brilliant yellow eyes staring back at him. Baragon froze in place. His mouth, despite being filled with saliva just moments ago, dried up on the spot.
The creature in front of him let out a deafening screech as it tackled Baragon out of the cavern, forcing a squeal from the crimson dragon, who responded by slamming his paws against the creature’s back. But it had no effect; Baragon was slammed against a massive tree. The plant groaned in protest, and Baragon did the same. As his assailant hopped back, Baragon fell to the ground with a mighty crash, moaning with ache as he looked up at his opponent.
Its body was covered in greyish scales, accompanied by massive, abating spines traveling from the shoulders to the end of its tail. Its long neck held a boxy head and dangling flap of thin skin. Large, prehensile arms were held against its sides, and powerful legs held it in an upright position.
Zilla, the reptilian terror of New York, cried out, ready to defend his brood with all the might he could muster. Baragon hopped to his feet, and returned Zilla’s threat with a snarl. If this lizard wanted to give him an extra meal, so be it!
Zilla charged forward at full speed, mouth agape and claws outstretched. Baragon, in turn, dug his feet into the ground, bracing to retaliate. The mutant jumped into the air, ready to crush his opponent underneath his dinosaurian feet, but Baragon was ready. The crimson wyrm left the ground and made impact with his reptilian assailant, clamping his jaws around the theropod’s neck. Zilla screamed as he was dragged to the forest floor, the impact bruising his frail form. The crimson kaiju released a cackle and began clawing at his floored opponent, blow after blow slicing through the irradiated reptile’s underbelly, causing Zilla to cry out once more.
As the red dragon tore away at him, Zilla managed to get his legs positioned beneath the distracted dinosaur’s chest. Summoning all his might, he kicked up, pushing Baragon away and emptying the air from the burrower’s chest. The big-eared beastie gasped for breath and coughed, giving Zilla the opportunity to strike, snatching one of Baragon’s dog-like ears in his jaws, earning a squeal out of the kaiju as he tugged him along, testing the grip of his maw on the red monster. Tightening his grip, the false dinosaur swung Baragon through a group of trees, exploding their trunks and creating a pile of broken bark on the forest floor.
In the middle of another swung, Zilla released his grip and sent his foe flew away, through even more of the towering vegetation and into the side of a massive overhang. As Baragon made impact, the redwoods on top of the overhang shuddered and shook, threatening to fall off. Baragon wheezed as he struggled to get up again, attempting to shake the blisters from his back. As he caught his breath, the burrower heard Zilla’s titanic footsteps coming closer, posed to strike once again. Panicking, Baragon realized he needed an advantage.
While Baragon thought to himself, Zilla had gained ground. The radioactive lizard pounced, ready to drive his claws into the red kaiju, but instead was met with a cloud of dust and dirt. Zilla landed and stumbled, unsure of where the intruder went. Had it fled? Was it dead?
Zilla got his answer when Baragon burst out from the ground behind him. The dinosaur found a foothold in Zilla’s massive dorsal plates and bit down on the reptile’s neck, forcing a scream from his foe. Zilla didn’t know why the attack seared his flesh, but it did – his flesh was being cooked!
The titanic reptile bucked and flailed, desperate to throw this wily little monster from his back, but Zilla’s struggle only made Baragon hold on tighter. By a kaiju scale, his huge fangs were only inches away from severing the mutant’s spine.
In a mighty show of desperation, the irradiated iguana kicked the cliff side, sending him and the red kaiju on his back flying through multiple redwoods. Baragon acted as a living piece of armor for his foe, inadvertently protecting Zilla from crashing into the trees whilst enduring the punishment himself. When the pair flew through a final tree, Baragon finally relinquished his grip. The subterranean monster was sent rolling across the forest floor and cried out when a boulder brought him to a halt. The pain from the splinters and stones in his back forced him into the fetal position in a feeble attempt to numb himself.
An opportunity was available to Zilla, and he was not about to let it slip from him. The cold wind whipped against Zilla’s face as he charged forth, ready to strike. Just as Baragon regained his footing, the mutant pounced. Powerful arms wrapped around the red dragon’s head and neck, manipulating his movements and forcing him forward.
Next thing Baragon knew, Zilla had rammed his head into a boulder. He felt the bones in his jaw and nose fracture, moaning from the pain. Bright spots danced around Baragon’s vision, taunting him as he pawed the air before him in a daze. He growled and attempted to face Zilla, but when he tried to turn, the reptile found himself stuck. The force from Zilla’s assault had stabbed Baragon’s horn into the stone. Stuck in place, the subterranean kaiju felt his rival clawing and kicking at his back and hind leg. If his skin wasn’t red before, it most definitely was now.
Baragon grabbed a tight hold of the rock and lifted his haunches. Using his hind legs, he kicked Zilla in the chest, sending the iguana flying back. With his foe stunned, he began clawing at the boulder with his stumpy claws…
After some struggling, Zilla managed to force himself back up. A quick scan of the area revealed that, where Baragon had been just moments ago, there was yet another cloud of dust. Zilla snarled and dug his feet into the ground experienced well with this subterranean ability. He knew what the small, red creature had planned.
On cue, Baragon exploded from the ground once again, but Zilla was ready. The mutant lizard swung his tail, and it struck Baragon hard and true in the gut. The dragon struck another tree, but this one held its ground. The pressure felt like it would break Baragon’s back, the pain was so bad!
Before he could even hit the ground, Zilla was on top of him. The pseudo-saurian’s legs pinned Baragon down while his mighty, four-clawed hands scratched at his chest and throat. Stinging pain resonated throughout the crimson reptile’s entire body, and his resulting squeals were enough to shatter glass. He had to think fast.
Steam began rising from the mighty saurian’s belly. Zilla stopped his assault when a strange, yellow light began emanating from Baragon’s mouth. He blinked away the heat and light, unprepared for what was to come.
Red hot fire blasted point blank into Zilla’s face, scorching his snout and drying his eyes. The heat was unbearable, and Zilla backed away with a roar of anguish. Rising back to his feet, Baragon continued his flaming assault, driving the spiny mutation back with his mighty beams, blast after blast striking the mutant’s face and chest.
The final step drove Zilla’s foot off an edge. He just barely managed to balance himself and peered over his shoulder to the sight below. It was a massive cliff over a beach. Waves smacked against the sand, overcast by the rock face above. The fall was intimidating, even to a kaiju. Zilla let out a squeak of fear, then turned back to his opponent.
Baragon was bloodied and bruised, but that maniacal smile still adorned his dog-like face. His nasal horn glowed, somehow amplified by his excitement, and he approached Zilla.
This was the end. Zilla cried out, softly. A plea for mercy.
Baragon’s chest inflated, puffing out as he took a massive breath. The glowing light once more took residence in his mouth…
Zilla took another look at the drop behind. It seemed to almost grow deeper the more he looked at it. He looked back again, preparing to face death…
But Baragon wasn’t there.
Zilla looked around. Yet again, there was a hole in the ground where Baragon had stood. The iguana regained his footing on the solid ground. It felt so great to not be teetering over that cliff anymore, but the reptilian was bewildered. Why had the red creature spared him? The mutant checked around the area to make sure Baragon was not hiding in wait, playing with him; but his searches yielded no result.
Zilla was bewildered. Nothing about this made sense to his reptilian mind!
But then he realized.
Zilla cried out in a mixture of surprise and dread. His long legs moved faster than they ever had before, at speeds that had seemed impossible before. At first, the reptile tried to wind through the trees; but it wasn’t long before he gave up the delicate approach. The trees crashed and crumbled as he rammed through them, desperate to save his brood!
Cold water splashed up on Zilla’s legs as he reached the river. As soon as he felt the liquid, he made a sharp left and made his way swiftly to the waterfall. He crashed through the water, splashing it all over the cavern.
It was more atrocious than he ever imagined.
Thousands of crushed eggshells were scattered across the cavern. Golden yolk was splattered on the floor and walls, and mangled parts of Zilla’s unborn were spread everywhere. The radioactive iguana shrieked in horror and ran in, trying to find any survivors, but there were none to be found. What few eggs that weren’t devoured had been crushed beneath Baragon’s massive feet. The dragon had massacred Zilla’s family; slaughtered them. They never stood a chance.
Zilla let out a squeak of sorrow, mourning his children. He had brawled for them, bled for them, BURNED for them… But it was for nothing.
In the middle of the cavern was the gaping hole where Baragon had came and left. Zilla saw this and let no hesitation plague him, jumping in immediately after the monster who had eaten his children.
Baragon was in the middle of making his way to the surface. With a final strike from his shovel claws, he punched through the compact layers of soil. Light shone on his face, and he emerged at the edge of the forest. He couldn’t believe that trick had worked!
He had considered killing Zilla. The putrid abomination had caused him excruciating pain, and probably hindered his hearing forever – plus, he may actually earn some respect from the kaiju back home. But as he prepared to blast that grey worm off the edge, Baragon had an epiphany. If he spared his enemy, he would have a steady food supply. He could track Zilla every year and eat his fill in delicious eggs. So, why not let it live? Baragon congratulated himself for such a thought, in whatever way ten-story monsters do. He was proud of his new found discovery, but after such a titanic battle, he was ready to retreat.
The dinosaur took a step to leave, but was met with a fiery pain in his foot. He cried out, and turned to snarl at the source.
The fire in the eyes that met him startled Baragon out of his narcissistic complex.
Zilla had his boxy jaws placed in a vice grip on the red kaiju’s foot. Anger burned into Baragon’s soul when he stared at the father of his victims. He felt his heart beating hard enough to make him light headed. Maybe this idea wasn’t so great after all.
Before Baragon could think anything more, Zilla launched from the tunnel and head-butted the murderer of his babies. Baragon felt his brain shake inside his skull as the lizard made contact and was knocked away. His grey matter was still bouncing when Zilla jumped and placed two well aimed kicks directly in Baragon’s snout, breaking bone and loosening teeth.
Blow after blow, Zilla’s assault continued. Every bone in Baragon’s form was being broken and shattered, one by one, and he would not stand for it. The red dragon snapped out of his terrified daze, and pushed Zilla away. The hellfire in his belly awoke once again, growing bright enough to almost blind the lizard.
Zilla couldn’t hesitate. Quickly, he spun around. His lengthy tail hit Baragon directly across the cheek, forcing the red dragon’s head to the right. The heat beam intended for Zilla burst from Baragon’s mouth, and exploded against the base of a particularly massive redwood. Baragon roared from frustration. Why wouldn’t this pest die!?
The sound of creaking resonated through the forest, but in his blood rage, Baragon did not notice. Zilla, however, heard loud and clear. As Baragon let out a deafening roar, the theropod charged toward the distracted monster and leapt. His saurian feet made contact with the chest of the nest raider, who felt Zilla’s weight rest upon him. Then, with a final push, Zilla back-flipped off of the burrower’s torso. The blow sent Baragon somersaulting, but he was quick to hop back onto his feet.
Zilla landed and observed the oblivious dinosaur. Baragon snarled. Determination to wipe that smug look of that lizard’s face consumed him!
The creaking sound filled the forest once more, but this time Baragon heard. He slowly turned his head to the side, and was met with the sight of a gigantic tree falling on top of him.
The trunk made impact with Baragon’s skull, crushing his cranium and shattering the horn atop his head. The scarlet saurian was forced to his knees, and then to his stomach. His scaly body sprawled on impact. Spasms plagued the corpse for no more than a few seconds, then halted.
Zilla pointed his head to the heavens and roared in victory. The deafening cry was short however. Soon, he realized the cost of this victory. Somberly, he turned on his heel and fulfilled his march of shame back to the home of his personal tragedy.
He pressed on through the waterfall and collapsed, tired and sorrowful. His forest territory had been massacred, his children eradicated, and himself almost killed. His depressed growl echoed through this graveyard he called home.
And soon after that, a chirp.
Zilla’s eyes widened and he frantically looked around. Was it his imagination?
Another chirp. And another.
He looked down to see a tiny hatchling, still covered in the slime of its incubator. It looked toward its parent and chirped yet again, hopping in its strange, newborn way. Zilla lowered his head to the baby and grumbled, and the little one responded by rubbing against his father’s snout.
Zilla grumbled happily. Maybe this day would turn out alright.