Author: Joshua Strittmatter | Banner: Landon Soto

He dreams of monsters.

Tiny, numerous, widespread, primitive yet cunningly intelligent, fragile in both mind and body, parasitic, destructive, sadistic, and arrogant. Monsters of miniscule size and pale hairless skin, clothed in strange uniforms, droning mindlessly in mass quantities amidst ever-growing ranges of concrete towers; always swarming out of their hiding places to fire their terrible weapons of war upon him. Pellets of lead and explosive projectiles that mercilessly bombarded his skin, eventually striking his neck and amplifying his already excruciating pain tenfold. Monsters that poisoned and eradicated the once beautiful ecosystems around the world, replacing the tranquility and beauty with their wretched waste. Monsters that drove countless innocent species that spent tens of thousands of years surviving unhindered in their respective ecosystems to extinction in mere centuries if not decades. Monsters that took his old life away, monsters that filled his once serene aquatic homeland with their nuclear trash.

Monsters that made him the last of his kind… … …then turned him into the first.

Haunted him all his life they had, these monsters. He had come to land, desperate in his never-ending quest to quench his painful hunger for nuclear energy–to his despair, the very power source for the miniature terrors. And the monsters came swarming out like attacking hornets, and there was little he could do to avoid them in the confusion. No matter how hard he fought back, how hard he punished them for causing him so much agony, they only evolved as rapidly as he. They only gathered their unified strength, came together from all across the world, and continued to bother him. To pester him. To torment him until his once mighty power ran dry and he was toppled like a statue. Fought to the end did he, but it was not enough.

It was the finality of it all, that they imprisoned him. The last thing his conscious mind captured before plunging into the world of dreams was stiffening skin, a horrible cold that chilled him to the core like nothing had ever in his life, and a last agonized scream that vented from his gaping jaws just mere moments before reality suddenly faded away.

It all began and ended the same way: with a cry. A final begging for all the pain to at last come to an end, to finally find peace after so much torture besieged him; for the monsters to go away and leave him be, let him go back to just being a simple animal looking for sustenance. But then ice encased his skin. His blood froze literally in time. And he became their prisoner.

So, he dreamt of monsters. Advanced, yet so primitive. Monsters that seemed to cover the world like ants, destroying all that they touched and replacing it with their unnatural architecture. Over and over again, his mind relayed the same fearful scenarios for what felt like an eternity; all memory of the real world outside his brain suppressed by his deep sleep. The monsters kept evolving, kept multiplying, kept spreading. Through the seas, over the mountains, through the deepest and most sacred forests, around the entire planet itself, far off into space to colonize other planets, and further still. They would never stop spreading, and eventually they would cover the entirety of the cosmos themselves, with nothing to oppose them.

But sooner or later, you always have to wake up.

The scenario began to repeat once more in its strange eternity… … …until all of a sudden, the shadows fell. Mild at first, minor stains of blank darkness appearing in different spots of the corners of his mind. Then the stains grew into foggy clouds, and the once slow process began to intensify rapidly. The shadows descended, covering all that existed and seemingly erasing it one by one. Even the monsters were no match for it, and they were all engulfed by the soothing darkness that came falling in like a vaporous blanket. Retreating into the shadows they did, but somewhere deep down he knew that they were biding their time, and sometime in the future they would re-emerge when the shadows let up and would resume haunting him.

But not now.

The darkness deleted all, until nothing but blackness remained. And at long last the pain, the fear, the torment all came to a quiet end. No monsters, no destruction, no torment, just a gentle darkness that allowed him a moment of the only thing he ever sought in his life: peace. For a good few…what was it? Seconds? Minutes? Hours? He couldn’t tell. For every moment of it all existed in his mind, and his mind only, and it was soon rendered insignificant when he saw the first light that signaled the end of dormancy, the end of his nightmares. A light at the end of the tunnel. The memories all returned, the awareness snapped instantly into place, and the light slowly began to grow, banishing the darkness ounce by ounce as consciousness started to take hold. It was warm and calming, and he welcomed it gratefully. The darkness had served its purpose, and now it was free to take its leave.

For the light was the reality–all else was just a dream.

*****

Date: October 11th, 2020
15 minutes prior to reawakening.

Yasuko Hashimoto sighed nervously as she downed the last of her coffee, the G-Force operator returning to her usual post as she let the effects of the drink begin its purpose of soothing her morning stress. Her eyes glued to the computer screen in front of her as she took a moment to re-evaluate the current circumstances of her job, ensuring that there were no abnormalities to catch her wary eye. Even having ingested such a sizable drink, the coffee did little to calm her nerves as she constantly switched between staring at the main screen before her, to looking at the date in the lower right-hand corner, to keeping track of time in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Today’s assignment was the same as always: monitoring all activity of the frozen leviathan known to the world as Godzilla.

Even before the big prediction in the past few months, Yasuko took her job very seriously from the moment she was first assigned to it. Yasuko herself would know on a personal level–four years ago, she had witnessed with paralyzed horror as Godzilla decimated Tokyo in an atomic blaze, killing her parents as well as her sister. It was a heart-shattering blow that she knew thousands more around the country felt just the same, and after Godzilla’s eventual defeat and the subsequent formation of G-Force, she eventually landed herself in a position where she could, even if in the smallest and weakest way possible, determine whether or not such a tragedy would ever befall any more Japanese civilians–or other civilians around the world–ever again.

A mechanical vibration in her pocket, a faint hum resonating from within. Quickly, delicately, the G-Force operator flipped her phone into her hand to view the recent text. Her once tense frown was replaced by a small smile as she found that the text had originated from the person who just so happened to be her phone’s background picture. A beautiful woman no older than herself; flowing brownish-red hair, brown eyes, smiling for the camera as she held a clearly giggling three-year-old little girl in her arms… … …

Yasuko closed her eyes as she held the phone close to her, taking a deep breath as the stress began to set in once more. Ever since Godzilla showed his scaly face to the world and brought the country of Japan to its knees, she and her family had lived in fear. While she and all of Japan had breathed a sigh of relief when Operation Yashiori proved successful in besting the nuclear reptile, the fear, however lowered, remained. Not a day passed by since she first took up this job that she didn’t wake up nervous, fearing that any day could be the day that Godzilla wakes up from his drug-induced coma; not a day passed that she didn’t dread the knowledge of how much danger her beloved and their pride and joy would be in if such a day came to fruition.

Unfortunately, 2020 had proved to be a truly cruel year–a shocking prediction had come through that had given Yasuko and her co-workers terrible anxiety ever since. On May 16th, current Prime Minister Yukiko Takasu released to the public the last information on the planet that Japan–or the world, for that matter–wanted to hear.

Godzilla wouldn’t be frozen for too much longer; it was hypothesized that by the end of the year, he would reawaken.

Yasuko knew that the monster wouldn’t be frozen forever, but to now be living in the actual unseen countdown to the inevitable… … …to say it had put the fear of God in her couldn’t sum it up in the least bit. Yasuko and Chinatsu had recently begun talking about moving to Osaka, despite the immense respect and faith the G-Force operator held for her co-workers and their current Prime Minister. The fact that the country’s government was stronger and more competent than the one that had preceded it did nothing to stem the fear she held for the lives of her family–her wife and daughter were the lights of her life, and she would be broken beyond description if she lost them the way she lost her parents and sister.

Then came July 29th, and in the early morning they were all besieged by a most horrific change.

A swarm of hideous, Godzilla-like humanoid beasts had been spotted emerging from the dormant monster’s tail, frozen in place like statues as they seemingly reached out to the sky in preparation of their birth. But as teams rolled in to both investigate the new occurrence and evaluate the situation and its possibilities, the humanoids all but disappeared overnight. Gone, never to be seen again. How and when, nobody knew. As scientists and military personnel alike attempted to search for the missing beasts, the question of what they were or what purpose they served continuously lingering in their minds, the world’s leaders became increasingly anxious. It seemed that fate was sending them sign after sign that Godzilla’s return was inevitable.

Then American political pressure strengthened, and tensions doubled for the already uneasy Japan. The current President of the United States had threatened to resume the countdown to drop a hydrogen bomb on Tokyo more than once, in embarrassingly ridiculous ways no President–or politician for that matter–should. Even after Prime Minister Takasu publicly called him out for such behavior in every way a true leader should, intelligently pointing out every flaw in such a concept and condoning a clear act of violence for the sake of violence without any true reason or strategy behind it, the President refused to listen as always. Even the former President of the United States intervened on the matter, pointing out how it was clear planning, unified scientific research and multiple countries working together that had ultimately bested Godzilla and not brute nuclear force by oneself. Furthermore, they also brought up the topic that an H-bomb strike might not even be effective against the monster, and that for all they knew he very well could emerge alive and kicking from humanity’s most destructive weapon all the while they needlessly wiped out countless lives and homes.

But even the most heartful, desperate, intelligent, and pacifistic words fell on dreadfully deaf ears.

Yasuko was more grateful than she could possibly put into words that Takasu was their Prime Minister, but the terror of an incompetent and unstable President threatening to bathe their capitol city in nuclear flames and add on to the already monstrous threat of Godzilla was becoming too much by the hour. No matter how hard Takasu stood up to the man, the only results her–and anyone’s–words got out of him were raging tweets of incoherent sentences and childish, even racist insults. All of which were eventually followed by public “speeches” consisting of the same embarrassing material as his Twitter feed.

Yasuko sighed sadly. Unity. From the moment that man, who’s name she would not mention nor think about, stepped into the White House, the memories of many nations coming together as comrades and not as enemies to take down an ever-evolving threat seemed all but forgotten.

Well, in the outside world of politics at least.

Her co-workers at G-Force didn’t just comprise of Japanese. American, French, German, British, Russian, Chinese, Korean; all of some of the most brilliant minds of all ethnicities worked together to keep tabs on and, should it ever arise, combat a single common enemy. None of the needless in-fighting between the higher powers of the respective countries, none of the loathsome divisions that threatened to tear the world apart, just comrades in arms working side-by-side as if they were all one single tribe. Everything that Operation Yashiori had stood for, four years ago. Everything that Kayoco Anne Patterson, Rando Yaguchi, and countless more had opened the door for during an event that changed the world forever. Her work represented everything the world needed, now more than ever.

A hand fell on her shoulder to give it a compassionate squeeze. Yasuko broke from her thoughts to glance at her fellow G-Force worker, smiling thankfully at him, before turning back to her phone and texting her reply back… … …

Her computer screen began to blare, a sound that caught everyone’s attention. Her eyes bulged; her nerves lit up as if they had burst into flame. “We’re picking up a particularly large signal… … …it’s heading to the surface!”

*****

Thousands of gulls chirped and shrieked in terror as they soared across the overcast morning sky. Some accidentally flew face-first into windows or vehicles before stubbornly continuing on their way, while others sailed as fast as their wings could carry them unopposed through the skies as they fled for reasons unknown. All had gotten up out of their numerous hiding places and simply taken flight without a second thought, their numbers swarming the heavens like oversized bees on the wing. It was as if a biblical prophecy had begun to take shape; a divine warning that something a great deal above the average explainable phenomenon was about to take place.

As if something big was headed their way.

As the gulls eventually faded away to wherever their wings would take them, calm was restored–but the anxiety remained. Bewildered citizens, police, fire department, and military personnel alike looked about in equal parts awe at the spectacle they had just witnessed and suspenseful caution as they wondered what could cause such an occurrence–and if that was the end of it. A hopeful, but fatally naïve assumption that died as soon as it was born.

The sea had begun to billow upward a mile away; the water swelling like a balloon on a pressurizer as it began to climb to seemingly unimaginable heights… … …and roll forward, picking up speed with every passing second. Soon, what was once heightened water became a most horrifying shape that had been burned into the minds of Japanese citizens who had themselves lived through such a terrible calamity: a colossal wave, speeding toward mainland Japan at a height nearly half that of Tokyo Tower itself.

Another tsunami had come to visit them.

The results were swifter than a cheetah catching its prey–and every bit as horrific as the day Godzilla himself first emerged onto land in the Kamata Ward. The giant wave crashed onto the shoreline with a force to rival the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens herself, instantly destroying any small buildings in its path and crushing cars and stragglers alike before sweeping their remains away. Those who hadn’t been crushed at close range were snatched and overpowered by the widening, slowly receding monster of a wave; buildings who hadn’t been destroyed were damaged horribly, while crowds of hundreds were covered and drowned en-masse. Power lines snapped and sparked like twigs as soon, the entirety of Kamata and Shinagawa was entirely flooded by debris-filled seawater that continued to run through the city in a newly formed river. Those who had been lucky enough to escape to rooftops of larger, stronger buildings watched in horror as the monstrous wave died into a makeshift river–and gasped as they saw multiple unmoving bodies floating at the surface, drifting with the hellish current as it carried them out of sight, but not out of mind.

Before the earth itself suddenly rumbled… … …then trembled when an impact tremor vibrated through the mainland. And then another, and another… … …

*****

Yasuko trembled violently as she finished dialing Chinatsu, snapping her hand to her ear with breakneck speed all the while she continued to stare wide-eyed at the screen that had now been displayed before everyone in the room. Her breath came in rapid, repeated stutters of wordless terror as she waited for a response she feared may never come. She paid no attention to the doors flying open, and the Prime Minister herself trudging in alongside her respected cabinet… … …

“Honey, are you there?!”

Yasuko fought with every microbe that composed of her very being to stifle a cry of relief as she heard her beloved’s heavenly–albeit terrified beyond comprehension–voice fill her ear. “Chinatsu?! Baby, are-”

“Yukari’s here in the car!” her wife finished for her, and Yasuko closed her eyes as she allowed herself a sigh of the sweetest gratitude on earth, an incomprehensible weight having been lifted from her shoulders with that sentence alone. “We’re at the park!”

“Yasuko! This is no time for–!” Before Kouji Chujo could finish his sentence, Takasu snapped up her hand, stopping him in his tracks. “Let her have this!” she hissed firmly, causing him to fall silent as Yasuko averted her glare from him.

“Honey, listen to me,” the G-Force operator spoke softly with undertones of urgency, “the city is going to begin evacuations soon. When they start, take Yukari and head along with them. Go straight for the shelters. Don’t go anywhere else–no other place will be safer. Okay?”

“…Okay.” Yasuko’s stomach twinged at hearing the pain in her voice, her eyes closing as she took a deep breath. “How do you know the evacuations will start soon? I’ve heard the tsunami is dying…”

A deep rumble that rippled through the Headquarters accommodated with her wife’s sudden cease of talking, and Yasuko didn’t have to ask whether or not she heard it too. Not that it mattered–for no one in the room was talking anymore. Instead, they were all staring wide-eyed, slack-jawed at what now lay in front of them on the screen. A spitting image of the dreadful nightmare who had changed their country forever, an entity weaved in a familiar outline–yet, at the same time, it was in so many ways very different.

“Honey?” Chinatsu’s fearful voice crackled through the phone. “Honey…what’s happening out there…?”

But Yasuko couldn’t form words, every attempt died in her throat before it could exit. Even Prime Minister Takasu herself couldn’t believe what she was seeing, standing up to her full height as she took in the sight before her. The signal had revealed itself.

“No… … …” was all Yasuko could muster as her breathing began to increase. “… … …there can’t be ANOTHER Godzilla!”

*****

Seawater dripped in layers from his timber-gray body, falling into the hellish current he walked through. His ancient scales gleamed like quicksilver from the water still stained on his colossal form; three rows of rocky plates shaped like maple leaves ran across his back like a vertebraeic crown; a powerful segmented tail swung behind him like a biological war club, occasionally smashing into any undemolished buildings while the world itself quaked in terror from every footstep he took. His monolithic body rippled with prehistoric muscle as he walked; clawed hands attached to scaly, bear-like arms grasped and flexed as if anxious to engage in non-friendly conflict; blazing yellow eyes scoured the city with a gaze that sent a cold chill down even the most hardened war veterans.

The beast towered above the buildings around him as if they were mere play structures, looming above the great city as the dominator of all. Giant nostrils flared loudly as he sniffed the air, lumbering in the direction his nose told him to go. The scent he craved was closer than ever now; its source drawing nearer with every step he took. A booming rumble that put the greatest thunder to shame boomed from his massive gut as his gills flared, several humans watching in dumbfounded terror as he waded past them without so much as sparing them a single glance.

His eagle-like gaze focused up ahead, and even finally seeing it for himself he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of shock. But he brushed it aside–Godzilla had reached his destination at last, and he had a job to do.

*****

“Chinatsu, go to the shelters as fast as you can!” Yasuko cried. “Stay in there until this is all over. I’ll come meet you there, then. I’m going to have to hang up, soon!”

“Okay…Yasuko, just… … …please stay safe…” she pleaded, failing to conceal the break in her voice.

“I will, I promise,” the G-Force operator replied back. “Hey.” While no noise ran through the phone, the lack of any beeping made it clear that her partner for life had not hung up yet. That was all she needed.

“I love you so much.”

A long moment of silence… … …before being broken by a final reply.

“… … …I love you, too.”

Yasuko smiled, her hand beginning to drift away from her ear. “Tell Yukari mommy loves her.” Her thumb pressed the red icon, and her hand fell away as she finally re-entered her post. As she looked up at the screen, she met Takasu and Hayogata’s gazes, the two politicians staring empathetically at her. “The nearest shelter to Showa Kinen Park is less than half a mile away. Your family will be safe there,” Hayogata stated gently. “I know you’re worried sick for your family’s safety, Yasuko. Especially in times like this.” She looked about in the room, sweeping her powerful gaze across all before her.

“But we must all keep our heads. If we have time for tears, we’ve got time to fight.”

She looked back to Yasuko. “Operator?”

“Ma’am?”

“Take us to disaster level 3. We’re going to put our new weapons to the test–”

“Ms. Prime Minister, we need to scratch that order and change priorities right now!” one of the fellow operators suddenly cried out. She turned her head sharply in her direction. “Why?”

“The countdown just re-started!”

All gazes jolted to the screen immediately, eyes wide with indescribable terror. The woman wasn’t lying–the timer, which had been frozen still for four years, had indeed begun degrading second by second. Takasu’s fingers curled into fists, her hands red from a mix of pressure and pure rage. “That deranged son of a bitch…” she seethed with a lethal fury. “He didn’t even give us so much as a warning. Or a chance… … …”

Yasuko’s glinting eyes remained fixed to the now-moving timer. She was frozen to the spot, her heart threatening to stop at what she was seeing. At what it meant. “No…” her larynx finally built up the air to speak. “No… … …no… … …” she whispered grimly, her voice beginning to fail while she took in the now-inevitable outcome. The inevitable fate that would befall her wife, her precious daughter, the countless families that had barely even started the process of evacuation. At how little time there was left for anyone to do so… … …

“Operator! Listen to me,” Takasu spoke quickly, snapping the anxious woman back to reality. Her expression softened, before continuing, “is the crew of the Super X3 on standby?” The G-Force operator nodded swiftly, taking a breath to stabilize herself. “They’re still in the hanger, awaiting orders.”

“Tell them to suit up and wait for our signal. We’re at Maximum Disaster Level, now.”

Yasuko nodded a second time, grabbing her microphone to adhere to the Prime Minister’s orders. As the operator proceeded to give the order for standby, Takasu turned away to stare hard at the screen with furrowed brows. “If that dictator loves violence so much, we can all find joy in denying him his wishes once more,” she assured. “Rando Yaguchi’s organization fought too hard to prevent another Hiroshima for such an exhausting battle to be rendered pointless by a spoiled man-child. If that excuse for a President thinks his term is equivalent to a monarchy, he has another thing coming.” She turned to her cabinet, who gazed at her in a way that spoke a thousand words in of themselves: they all agreed.

“The shambled government before didn’t blindly follow America’s wishes when all seemed lost, and neither will we. They made a point. Yaguchi’s team did as they pleased. Goro Maki did as he pleased.” She smiled as everyone’s stares remained on her.

“And we’ll do the same.”

*****

The prehistoric alpha predator grumbled as he drew ever closer to his goal, the anticipation of finally erasing what was quite possibly the biggest threat to life on earth fueling his primal instincts. But as he reached a nine-hundred-meter distance between himself and the frozen thing ahead of him, his ears were subject to a whooshing crack that thundered in the sky. He turned his head skyward, his yellow eyes furrowing into a glare. He should’ve suspected the humans would use their aerial constructs against him from the start.

Five of the bird-shaped things descended rapidly from the sky, diving toward him in a V-shaped line. Godzilla winced a deep growl when lightning-like energy suddenly lashed forth from the strange tips of their wings and burned into his armored chest. The injuries were very minor at best and wouldn’t take long to heal, but nonetheless Godzilla was enraged. How dare these pests try to stop him from stabilizing nature’s balance!

The metal birds swept over his head, circling around before coming back for another go. Godzilla prepared a swipe but winced again when another torrent of electrical bursts zapped against his scaly body. As the constructs swept overhead, the ancient reptile bellowed a challenge, demanding they face destruction at his hands like a real fighter. But the mindless drones only circled around again, preparing for another go. The legendary Godzilla sneered. Fine, if that was the way they wanted to have it, then they better not say he didn’t warn them.

The old saurian stood still as a tree, completely ignoring the insignificant stinging of more maser blasts against his ancient skin. He watched as they circled around him again, before diving back and blasting him once more with their pathetic beams. They swooped away, circled, came back for a fourth round, rinse and repeat. And still he didn’t move.

Wait for it… … …

The metal birds zoomed over his massive skull, their filthy scent scourging his nostrils, but still he stayed in one place. Just a little longer, just a little longer, just a few more seconds and all that annoyance can be paid for, just a little longer and those little pests can pay with their lives for their grave mistake. Mercy, just a few more seconds… … …

NOW!

The legendary Godzilla bellowed a thunderous shriek as he whipped his lower body upward faster than anyone thought he could, his colossal tail snapping like an organic whip and cracking loudly upon smacking not one, not two, but four of the metallic vehicles out of the air. Two of them exploded from sheer impact; the other two plummeted away to crash to the watery ground below, never to fly again. The remaining construct did not circle around for another try–instead, it continued to speed away into the distance, fading away until it was but a dot that vanished in the horizon. The predator huffed in satisfaction.

Yeah, that’s right. You better run!

*****

Takasu closed her eyes, her head bowing as a mournful scowl crossed her brow. She slowly, silently clasped her hands together, quietly praying for the now lost souls of the departed soldiers. She knew this job wouldn’t be easy; that when the inevitable came, lives would be lost. But that didn’t make it any less of a tragedy when it came to this point.

“Ms. Prime Minister,” Hatogaya politely spoke up, “if I may.” The woman opened her eyes, her gaze drifting to him. She nodded in equal politeness, before muttering “Go ahead.”

“It may be possible we need to let this creature continue on its way.”

Takasu’s eyes widened, an incredulous expression on her face. Hatogaya noticed and immediately made way to explain himself. “What I mean to say is…!” he spoke quickly, doing sure as to be able to get his point across, “… … …look at that creature. Just look at the way he behaves.” Unsure of what the man was saying, but still willing to consider what she didn’t yet know, the Prime Minister did as told. She turned back to the screen, watching this… … …new Godzilla lumber about through the flooded streets of Tokyo. “Look at the way he moves… … …” Hatogaya continued. Takasu’s nerves began to flare slightly, still unsure of what exactly her aide was getting at.

“But most importantly… … …where he’s going.”

At this, the Prime Minister’s eyebrows rose. Even from the moment this beast had first revealed itself to them, not once did anyone in the room, including herself, bother to question why this second Godzilla had come ashore in the first place. In the back, Yasuko raised her head to look at them, her expression equal to Takasu’s. “You don’t mean… … …”

“Operator?” Takasu turned to face her.

“Yes?”

“Does this creature appear to be headed anywhere specific?” But Yasuko was already on task, narrowing down the schematics until… … …

“Yes, he is, ma’am!” she called. Everyone turned their eyes on her expectantly, waiting to hear the results. “He’s headed straight for–!”

“Heartbeat!” another one of the operators suddenly cried. “I’ve got a clear heartbeat!”

The entire room froze.

*****

It started with a pink glow from the frozen muscles on his back. Very faint, but the first glow to radiate from that body in four years. For a minute the glow remained there, faintly emanating from his dorsal region like a dying lamp. Trace amounts of radiation scattered to and fro around his back, no higher or further. But then the minute passed, and more obvious changes began to take place. The glow steadily began to brighten, changing from a faded pink to a more obvious blood-red. Steam began to billow from his brightening back as the ice that encased it melted, exposing his dorsal musculature to the world. The heat began to build, and soon his dorsal plates followed that same glow as the ice around them too, melted into water which in of itself evaporated into steam.

The ice encasing his scarred skin began to shift with loud cracks. Fracture after fracture grew across every inch of frozen water that had entrapped his colossal being for so long, every crack echoing like a crumbling glacier. The glow of his dorsal region spread to the open sores and scars of his body; the exposed muscle tissue issuing the same crimson aura that began to melt whatever ice that hadn’t cracked yet. The same glow lit up the tiny gills on the side of his neck… … …just moments before, for the first time in ages, the ice encasing his hand cracked and his finger twitched. The frozen beast had moved!

The twirled tail began to shift and contort, snapping off chunks of ice to reveal the bumpy skin underneath. More of the reptile’s fingers twitched and curled, breaking free of their subzero prison. Water began to run down the monster’s body in sheets, only adding to the effect of the melting ice as the glow of its internal fission finally reached its full state, and with a loud CRASH! All ice on the monster’s body shattered apart, falling to the ground to break into pieces that eventually melted into water. The water still clinging to the beast’s body evaporated, steam billowing off its glowing back, and the creature curled and uncurled its hands for the first time in what felt like forever.

Then its eyes moved.

*****

It began the same way it had ended: with a calling.

The light burst like a firework, encompassing all in its path and heating him to the very core. Warmth. It felt so nice, so soothing, so… … …real. Gone was the cold that had chilled him to the bone; ceased to be the nightmares that had once plagued his frightened mind in an incessant loop, banished by the darkness that subsequently gave birth to this heavenly light.

And the monsters were gone.

The light spread through every inch of his very being, warming him both physically and psychologically. So grateful was he for this light. It was as if one blanket had slipped off of him, only for a fresh and new one to whip in and wrap around him in a warm embrace. It reminded him of the sea, his place of ancestry, his peaceful solitude from the horrors of the surface world that frightened him so. The warm confines of the water, the ambient flowing that always permeated his ears and helped him fall aslumber whenever tiredness called.

It reminded him of home.

Then, through the light, different forms began to take shape. The warmth began to mix with a chilled cool as the morning air crept across his skin. The brightness dampened as the world around him took shape, his eyes refocusing as his brain finalized banishing the dreams and waking him back to reality. His vision cleared, and he was met with the last sight he had seen before being knocked into his long sleep. He was so taken aback at the fact he was back to the land of the living that his brain didn’t even allow his ears to register the earth-shaking roar that shrieked from his gaping jaws. It was no dream. It wasn’t a trick, a ploy of the mind. He was awake at last.

Godzilla was finally free.

The creature loosed a long sigh of pure exhaustion, his breath mixing with the cool morning air to form a wisp of short-lived vapor. The God Incarnate took a wobbly step forward, his body threatening to fall, but he held together as he focused his mind. Slowly, he took another step, reminiscent of the day he first lengthened his legs. The third step came without much trouble, and the fourth was as if he had never entered a coma at all.

Godzilla stopped as quickly as he had started.

His eyes had caught sight of a massive obstacle, headed directly his way with massive, loping strides. A huge shadow began to envelop the ground ahead of him as the obstacle revealed itself to be a hulking reptilian behemoth that towered over all in its path. Godzilla stood perfectly still as he watched the Titan approach, a deep rumble resonating from the pit of its scaly gut. Its heavy footfalls made mother earth tremble, so powerful they even rattled Godzilla himself; its golden eyes piercing him with a truly primal gaze, as if they were the eyes of a wrathful god. Eventually, the saurian behemoth came to an abrupt halt a good five hundred meters away from the evolved reptile; its final footstep sending chills through the earth’s crust.

Godzilla’s long tail waved ceaselessly from side to side, the nuclear spawn continuing to hold still while he stared at the newcomer with his beady, shark-like eyes. As large as his brain was in capacity to his body size, Godzilla was still an animal. And like any animal, he relied a large majority on his instincts. To say he was mindless for doing so would be false, for relying on instinctual responses was an intelligent route to survival for all organisms. Nonetheless, there was always the capacity for cognitive thought going on through that brain, which opened the door for emotion. So it was that the lack of facial muscles prevented Godzilla from outright expressing the surprise he felt when he comprehended what he was staring at. Despite its numerous differences, this being…this creature… … …

It looked like… … …him!

So, the mutated beast made the obvious instinctual decision. He called to the elder creature, a greeting.

And he waited.

*****

Godzilla never broke off his eye contact when the mutant abomination before him released a roar in his direction. The very utter of the call nearly made the alpha predator visibly wince. The ululation that flew from the mockery’s hideous maw was not the majestic, kingly cry indicative of his long-lost species, not the prehistoric shrill that told a story of a bygone age long forgotten by nearly all life on the planet; rather, it was a hollow, revolting shriek. A visible byproduct of the new modern age, a testament to a bastardized creation of the human race and its arrogant misuse of nuclear materials.

There was not a single attribute about this creature that Godzilla didn’t despise with a thermonuclear passion. The body was a twisted, disgustingly deformed tumor; arms that were far too small for a creature like it protruded outward with no movements whatsoever; a ridiculously long tail at least three times the length of the body swayed behind it, the only other movement the creature presented aside from a few twitching of the fingers. The mockery’s skin was deeply, hideously burnt; rough and craggy like tree bark with countless bloody scars that exposed glowing muscle tissue and blood vessels. Scars of a very different sort from his own, gained from a body that both doubled in size without the skin growing with it and burned itself due to the nuclear fission in the body.

And the eyes… … …evolution have mercy, the eyes alone threatened to take the title of everything wrong with this creature, other traits be damned. Just two beady white orbs with a single round pupil and iris, far too tiny for a mushroom cloud-shaped head that dwarfed his in size. There was zero personality in those eyes, zero character or soul reflected off those blank little orbs. They were the eyes of a lifeless corpse, staring back at him with no thought or intent of any kind–a fitting description for this abomination’s zombie-like appearance.

Godzilla gritted his teeth and snorted at the mindless husk, who–no, which–continued to stare into space in his direction. His claws flexed, his arm muscles knitted together, and he puffed out his chest and roared as loud as his lungs would allow.

*****

Godzilla felt his heart sink when the Old One bellowed at him, screaming at a volume that threatened to crack his unseen eardrums. It mattered not whether or not they were related in any way shape or form–he knew exactly what that sound meant. Understood what it conveyed.

This creature had just challenged him. It wanted to fight him.

And, quite possibly, kill him.

*****

Yasuko held her eyes closed and drew a quivering breath through her nose as G-Center rumbled from the intensity of the distant sound that unfolded on the screen for all to see. The G-Force operator knew what was to follow. She knew that the event that was about to occur would become one of the biggest moments in history, and she would be here to witness all of it. She was going to watch an occurrence that would go down in books, photos, and documentaries for decades to come. There was no way of avoiding it–the Super X3 could not be used for such a task. They needed it on standby, for the time when the countdown reached its end. For this matter here, they could only stand idle.

And watch.

“Orders, ma’am?” Yasuko spoke up, opening her eyes. The Prime Minister merely stood unresponsive; her eyes glued to the screen. Fixated on the sight of two saurian leviathans facing one another in a monolithic buildup to the unavoidable. Then she swallowed, closed her eyes, opened them once more, and spoke.

“Nothing to be done. We wait for the countdown to finish.” Then she turned to her audience. “Conflict is inevitable.”

Yasuko slowly nodded, feeling a chill from the confirmation. Allowing herself a brief moment to close her eyes and caress where her wedding ring was, the G-Force operator grabbed her head-mic and issued with certainty:

“Threat Assessment: Conflict Inevitable. Repeat, Threat Assessment: Conflict Inevitable.”

She declared the evaluation one more time, then cut the contact. And the room was filled with grim silence once more. Takasu nodded gradually.

“Let them fight.”

*****

Crispy vapor blew from the gaping jaws of the second Godzilla as he bellowed another booming challenge, gills flaring and eyes seemingly glowing with primal rage as he started his march. The original Godzilla would prove to surprise his elder counterpart when he raised his head into the air, his shark-like jaws snapped open to thunder an equally powerful roar in response. His tail swished like an enraged cat as he too began to walk toward the newcomer.

Footsteps that echoed with the intensity of an earthquake mixed with loud booms belonging to footfalls that sounded akin to bombs going off. Natural and unnatural marched toward each other, glaring prehistoric eyes locking with unblinking human-like orbs. Armored gray scales charged toward radioactive keloid scars, the soil of Japan rattling like never before as they neared. Ancient war cry mixed with modern-day howl, the Alpha Predator readied to meet the God Incarnate head-on.

A mere half-second before they collided, a photographer snapped a picture. Perfect aperture, shutter speed and depth of field all in one shot, masterful symmetry of the two bellowing kings about to meet in mortal combat amidst a devastated central Tokyo; a photo that would go down in history before the dawn of a new tomorrow arose.

And then the island of Japan itself shook when 99,600 short tons met 92,000 metric tons in a collision that, like the battle it represented, would echo through the ages.

*****

The mutant abomination howled when Godzilla slammed his palms into its shoulders and lunged, plunging his powerful teeth into the lower base of its neck just above the right shoulder. Black claws dug into scarred flesh and drew rivers of boiling radioactive blood, exerting enough pressure to crack bone and pop muscle with ease. The abominable beast shrieked and screamed as Godzilla shook his head before powering his columnar legs forth, catching it by surprise.

The mindless (was it truly mindless?) organism shrieked as its legs failed to catch up with his stride, and before long it found itself being effortlessly pushed back by Godzilla’s legendary strength. Clouds of dust kicked up as one powerful body ceaselessly shoved another backward in an intense show of physical prowess. Every footfall put the loudest of thunder and the greatest of avalanches to shame as the Permian Titan continued his push, the abomination thrashing about with its upper body as it seemingly tried in vain to do something about its attacker’s stride.

Godzilla screamed into the abomination’s face as he flexed his muscles, but before he could put all his strength forth into a shove that would certainly send the living tumor falling, the cancerous beast lunged like a crocodile and bit down as hard as its jaws would allow; every single one of those hundreds of ugly teeth plunging into his flesh like hundreds of knives through butter. Huge sprays of blood fountained from the injury and the King of the Monsters roared in indescribable agony.

The abomination suddenly powered its chubby leg forth with speed he thought it incapable of and kneed him straight in the gut. Godzilla dry-heaved as he backed up–which soon turned to a grunt of pained surprise when the abomination snapped its head from under him and clocked him upward with its mushroom cloud-shaped skull. With a whale-like moan, Godzilla was sent toppling backward and falling to the earth with a deafening CRASH!

Godzilla’s eyes widened at what had just occurred. NEVER had he been the first to fall in a fight!

*****

The mutated saurian stomped the ground and shrieked a warning at the elder. A warning that unfortunately went unheeded when the prehistoric predator reared his head and bellowed forth a cry for blood. His muscles rippled as he pushed himself off the ground, and before long the elder rose back to his full intimidating height, towering just a head taller than the evolved reptile.

Godzilla slowly pawed the ground with his left foot, his tail still swaying. Otherwise, he remained still. The elder snorted vengefully and lit up his dorsal spines with a beautiful cerulean glow, a certain intimidation display. But Godzilla remained unmoved, an infrasonic rumble booming from his throat.

The elder charged once again with a roar, his footsteps rattling his mutated opponent through the core. Godzilla took one step back, readying himself–but came unprepared for what happened next. The elder suddenly stopped short a mere sixty meters away and hunched his head and neck down, and with equally shocking momentum he whipped his massive body around and slammed his segmented tail into Godzilla’s stomach. The crack of natural flesh meeting mutated flesh shook the air with such force that even the distant Mt. Fuji quivered, some of its snow cracking and falling in sheets.

Like a broken statue, Godzilla collapsed to the ground with an even greater impact.

The Incarnation of God groaned as he found himself in the same predicament as he had when he last fought the monsters that froze him. His massive body in of itself was a heavyweight powerhouse, his arms were quite tiny and could barely do anything to help push himself to his feet, but most troubling of all was that his lower torso ached horribly from the impact he had just sustained. Godzilla could barely rear his head before he felt tiredness fight to keep him down–which then turned to sheer force when a clawed foot came down and stomped his skull back to the earth in a cloud of debris. A screech of surprise left his jaws as the elder repeatedly stomped his head and neck into the earth, bellowing mercilessly.

But Godzilla was only down, nowhere remotely close to out.

His gigantic tail suddenly reared up like a mythical serpent, and before the elder could comprehend its presence it swung like a baseball bat and struck the predator head-on, sending him sprawling. Seizing the opportunity, Godzilla straightened the appendage before slamming it into the ground with all his force, forcing him upward and allowing himself to find his feet at last.

The elder bellowed again and again as he thrashed about on the ground, his tail ripping up trenches in the earth as he quickly gained his footing and began to push himself back to his full height. The old predator balled his hands into fists as he announced his return with a roar, an ugly glare crossing his scaly mug. Godzilla opened his jaws ever so slightly, uttering a defensive alligator-like bellow in response.

The elder growled as he turned his body half-around, slowly beginning to circle Godzilla. The God Incarnate stood like a fossilized tree, the only sign of movement still being that of his tail. He didn’t need to see the elder, even after he had circled around entirely behind him; his internal phased array radar could detect him and his movements flawlessly, akin to the pressure senses on a crocodile’s snout, albeit several times more effective. The old one snarled loudly as he continued to lumber a circle around the mutated saurian, but the only response Godzilla gave was a low infrasonic boom from his closed muzzle. The reptilian predator continued to walk on, eventually going behind the mutant for the second time. Low growls quaked from the elder’s jaws as he tried to provoke Godzilla into making a move of any sort, but Godzilla wasn’t buying it.

The elder suddenly exploded toward the still behemoth, intending to take him completely by surprise, but Godzilla’s survival instincts reacted just a fraction quicker. The scarred reptile thrust his lower body sideways quicker than the elder could’ve anticipated and smacked him with his oversized tail, flooring him for the second time. But unlike last time, the elder only fell to his knees.

*****

Godzilla loosed a painful groan as his palms collided with the earth, a mixture of pain and shock keeping him from making way to returning to his feet. His gills flaring and his nostrils exhaling wisps of vapor, the Alpha Predator took a breather from the impact as he attempted to both fight the pain scourging the side of his torso and recollect his strength to get back on his feet.

A sharp, stabbing pain suddenly knifed through his neck as he felt himself being hoisted up to his feet by something. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the abomination had his neck in its jaws, and was holding him like a crocodile with its catch–and then felt himself slung roughly out of its grasp as the cancerous beast threw him like a ragdoll to the ground. Godzilla howled with a yearning vengeance, unwilling to let these misfortunes continue. A foot suddenly slammed down on his neck, holding him fast to the earth, eliciting an even louder roar of rage. The abomination had traversed the distance between it and him faster than it looked, but not that it mattered.

It was time to turn the tide of the battle back in his favor.

Thrusting his arms to the side, Godzilla suddenly grabbed the abomination’s leg and shoved it hard, sending the beast sprawling with a shriek. It didn’t take long for both combatants to return to their feet and bellow their respective cries at one another, loud enough to make small buildings crack. Godzilla charged the abomination, reacting just as it lunged in for a bite. Grabbing it by the jaw with one hand, Godzilla planted his other on the monster’s chest and began to shove once more. The abomination scratched feebly at his arms with its tiny claws, but to no effect. Once more, Godzilla’s physical superiority allowed him to dominate the fight.

The abomination snapped its jaws together, puncturing his hand with several ivory barbs, but despite the agony, Godzilla refused to relent. Releasing a dominating roar, Godzilla shoved the abomination to the ground, painfully ripping his hand out of the mutant’s jaws in the process, before proceeding to wail on the pinned monster. The mindless beast’s teeth still embedded in his hand, Godzilla used the pain to heighten his aggression as he slashed, punched, and bit at his prey; screeches of anguish echoing from the abomination’s bloody jaws all the while it tried in vain to dislodge the attacker. The cancerous mutant tried whipping its tail at the Alpha Predator, but Godzilla saw it coming this time and reacted accordingly. With one swift grasp of his arms, he held the writhing appendage in his claws. Biting down on it as hard as his jaws would allow, Godzilla yanked his head to the side, taking the abomination with it. Growling like a frenzied dog, Godzilla dragged his helpless prey all around the earth in a rage, ignoring the tail’s feeble attempts to whack him in the side.

The heat of the abomination’s nuclear blood was beginning to test the limits of Godzilla’s jaws, however, and he soon found his mouth feeling uncomfortably dehydrated. The saliva in his gums had dried out, and a stinging pain was beginning to creep through the roots of his teeth. Unable to take any more of it, the King of the Monsters let go, instead electing to briefly let go of the mockery’s tail.

Seeing his prey lying on its belly, Godzilla lunged. Slamming his full weight on its back, the Alpha Predator snapped on the largest dorsal plate he saw, and with a few hard twists and yanks, ripped it off in a spray of boiling crimson. The howling scream that ripped from the abomination’s maw was so loud it made Godzilla’s ears bleed, startling the nuclear giant. The cancerous beast continued to screech its agonized cries to the world, the sound threatening to make Godzilla go deaf, but only temporarily did the King of the Monsters stop his assault. Lunging down to snag another dorsal plate in his tyrannosaur-like jaws, the predator twisted and yanked once more, ripping the cancerous bone from its post in another spray of red.

The abomination tried to rise, but a foot planted firmly on its back, staying it.

*****

Godzilla shrieked in pain as he felt another of his dorsal spines being torn from his back. At that moment, something occurred. Something triggered solely on instinct. Survivability kicked into overdrive; generating a shift, a change in the creature’s very being.

Godzilla’s genetic information was eight times that of a human being; such a massive web that even after his four years of being frozen humanity still hadn’t sequenced all of it. The nuclear giant was the most evolved living organism on the planet, and a walking mass of limitless potential. The God Incarnate was a living representation of the driving force of evolutionary survival: change. In order to survive, to adapt to new changes, life must evolve with those changes. And Godzilla was capable of self-mutation over a short period of time–not generational over thousands or millions of years. Right now, he was met at a severe combat drawback. Despite being lighter in weight, the elder outclassed him in the category of sheer physical might.

So, Godzilla would adapt. Change.

Evolve.

Deep within the mutant reptile’s blood cells, the very fabric of his complex DNA began to rewrite itself. Began restructuring, changing some of its ways. Perfecting what needed doing so. At first, it was an invisible phenomenon; solely restricted to the internal workings of the animal’s deoxyribonucleic acid. Unseen by even the sharpest eyes and the deepest X-ray visions. But as the changes came into effect, visibility was inevitable.

Godzilla’s back began to glow a bright red, much brighter than usual. Waves of heat began to permeate off his dorsal region, catching the elder’s attention. The heat was merely a prelude to what was coming, much to the Old One’s dis-knowledge. Only when a loud, organic crack echoed across the desolate battlefield did the elder get a glimpse of what was coming.

*****

“It’s happening again… … …” Yasuko whispered, her voice laced with terrified recognition. Memories began to flash through her mind, images snapping in rapid succession with one another, as if she were witnessing it all over again. She didn’t hide her attempts of shivering as she watched the original Godzilla stand to his feet on the screen.

“He’s… … …evolving… … …”

*****

The mutant’s arms cracked loudly as the bones that composed them began to snap, their density increasing by the second. Burnt skin split to make way for the thickening humerus, ulna, and radius. The original Godzilla bellowed in pain as the bones grew to the needed depth, but just when the pain couldn’t get any worse, the arms lengthened. New musculature and the thinnest amount of skin regenerated over the arms, barely enough to hide the bones–and then the nuclear fission of the reptile’s blood took effect and the flesh burned itself, outlining the bones once more.

The second elder Godzilla stepped back in shock at what he was seeing, his eyes widening like grapefruits. The mutated behemoth howled one last time as boiling blood ran down his arms to collide with the ground, steam following its impact. Then, his fingers twitched.

*****

Godzilla took another step back; not in fear, but in pure disgusted surprise at what had just transpired right before his 250 million year-old eyes. For countless millennia he had overseen the evolution and adaptation of many species throughout the endless sands of time; had seen many strange and unique adaptations animals and plants alike had formed over generations to cope with changing habitats and survive to carry on generations into the future. But what he had just seen violated everything he had witnessed beforehand, went against everything in the natural order of things.

The abomination had grown larger arms right before his very eyes!

Evolution was supposed to be a generational process, taking thousands if not millions of years to successfully mutate and change the species. It was not supposed to be a physical mutation on a single animal, and one that took mere seconds nonetheless! This horrid creature was even more abominable and naturally offensive than he had originally perceived.

The changes to the abomination were very minor in terms of appearance–the beast was mostly identical to how it was mere moments ago, but the adaptations were still obvious enough. The creature’s arms, while still relatively thin compared to Godzilla’s own and still composed of burnt musculature and blood vessel outlines, were longer and bulkier than they had been beforehand. The hands were slightly larger, the claws sharper and a bit more curved. The animal’s skin, while still hideously scarred, was now a charred reddish-pink in color as opposed to its original blackish-gray. And at the end of the tail, the fleshy tip that once housed a malformed skeletal face now replaced by a mass of small, pointed vestigial spines slightly larger than the ones that ran down the creature’s tail.

Godzilla both internally and externally growled before puffing up his chest and roaring fearlessly in the face of the so-called “God Incarnate.”

Barely even opening its jaws, the abomination uttered a deep, near-infrasonic reptilian hiss.

Godzilla thrust his arms forward, and as expected the abomination instinctively reached out to meet them with its own. Two sets of clawed hands met with a loud boom! followed by a bellowing shrill and a baritone howl. Godzilla snarled as he strained and pushed against the abomination… … …before his eyes widened in surprise when the cancerous beast planted its feet firmly in the ground and began to step forward, pushing him back!

Godzilla was so taken aback at what was happening, he had merely a second’s worth to react before the beast raised its right hand and slashed him across the face, claws cutting deep. The Alpha Predator howled miserably as the claws just barely cut next to his eye, releasing his grip to step back while blood flowed down his face. The abomination roared at him, the meaning entirely unclear to him, but he ignored it and stood back up to face the beast. His left eye seeing a red haze that perfectly matched his rage, he glowered at the mutant as he snarled a dare for it to come get him. But the monstrous animal remained stationary, its mouth slightly open as it gaped defensively like a crocodile.

So Godzilla lashed out like a big cat. The abomination raised its arms defensively, but Godzilla bit down on one with all his jaw strength while he grabbed hold of the other with one hand. The Alpha Predator used his free hand to slash and jab away at the mutant’s scarred flesh. Screaming in pain, the abomination lunged in an attempt to bite its aggressor, only for Godzilla to pull a retreat and yank himself back, ripping a chunk of flesh off the mutant’s arm. The scarred behemoth howled miserably as it backed away–and Godzilla took the opportunity to charge.

This time, the ancient reptile took the abominable beast full force. While pushing with his legendary strength, Godzilla crunched and tore at the abomination’s torso like a hungry bear; sturdy teeth crushing and ripping chunks of bloody flesh with repulsive cracks only barely muted by the mockery’s cries of agony. A loud CRASH! echoed across the Chiyoda ward as Godzilla finally smashed the abomination through a building, ignoring the masses of debris and glass falling on himself as he whirled around and threw the mutant forward with all his might.

Despite temporarily staggering, the mutant smashed its tail into the ground, steadying itself before it could fall. Godzilla bellowed as he attempted to rush the beast, only for it to turn to a groan of surprise when the abomination turned and whipped him across the head with its massive tail.

*****

G-Center.

Yasuko felt her stomach twist when she heard the sickening CRACK! of the original Godzilla’s tail smacking the second one upside the head ring through the speakers, the room itself rumbling slightly as a testament to the force of the blow. Even Prime Minister Takasu and her cabinet visibly winced, unable to comprehend how painful such a strike must have been, even against a skull as thick as that of a giant monster.

For a moment, everything was quiet; the only noises being the occasional mutters of the workers.

“Ma’am?”

“Operator?”

“Countdown’s at nineteen minutes.”

*****

Godzilla slammed his tail into the ground as he lowered his head, taking a moment to catch his breath. The abomination slowly lumbered toward him, its bomb-like footsteps threatening to topple even the highest buildings. His eyes drooping open and closed as he fought the concussion that poisoned his mind, the old predator struggled to keep focused on his nearing opponent, determined not to let it take him by surprise.

The creature was regaining the upper hand of the battle–he needed to change that now.

It began as a deep crackling which then crawled to a hum, as the first spine at the end of his tail lit up. Then the one in front of it. And the next one, and so on. The hum grew louder and more deafening as each of Godzilla’s dorsal plates lit up like Christmas Trees until the very last one at the tip of his neck shone like a light. Godzilla’s eyes narrowed and a slight smirk crossed his jawline as he stood back to his full height, holding his arms back as he puffed up his chest and took in the deepest breath yet… … …

A focused blast of pure atomic radiation launched from his jaws, meeting its intended target with precise accuracy. The abomination shrieked as it stumbled backward, the blast pushing its 92,000 metric-ton bulk with little resistance. Godzilla kept firing as the mutated mockery tried to put up with the heat ray’s power, but even then its feet dug trenches into the earth as the atomic ray did its work. The Alpha Predator wished he could smirk while firing; they may be somewhat similar in shape but in no way were they the same creature. He wielded the ancient power passed down from countless generations of his long-lost kind that solidified their–and as a result, his–position as the apex predator. The beast that faced him was a mere accidental imitation that possessed mere fancy tricks with the laws of physical mutation, nothing more.

Its evolution ends here and now.

Taking a moment to cut off his atomic breath, Godzilla regained some air as the abomination took a step in his direction–a mere second before he let loose again. The atomic ray smashed and burned against the mutant’s emaciated torso, and with another roar the beast continued to be shoved back by the sheer force of Godzilla’s legendary weapon. Blue sparks flew, cerulean flames burned off the ray’s continuous impact, and the unnatural “deity” tried and failed time and time again to hold against the superheated stream of atomic energy. Eventually, the abomination released a lasting bellow as it bent low, panting with agonized exhaustion.

The King of the Monsters grunted mightily as he finally cut off his nuclear payload–and his eyebrows raised when he saw the crimson glow of the creature’s back beginning to change color.

*****

Godzilla gave a terrible howl of frustration as he bent forward, the last of the superheated river burning into his shoulder before finally shrinking and fading away in a puff of fiery vapor. The scarred reptile hissed for breath as he recollected a much-needed dose of oxygen, tail swaying quicker than before due to heightened stress. Despite aching legs and a few lightly blackened splotches on his torso from where he had been blasted by the elder, he wasn’t any more injured than his already disfigured body. His blood ran on nuclear fission, powered by the same radioactivity that the elder’s breath composed of, and his skin was already burnt to the bone.

Trying to kill him with radiation was more or less akin to trying to douse a forest fire with a flamethrower.

Godzilla’s lizard-like eyes shifted to focus on the elder, his head remaining lowered. The predator’s dorsal spines were still glowing, indicating he wasn’t finished wielding his most formidable weapon. The God Incarnate’s notion perception proved right as the elder puffed in before releasing one last burst of his nuclear arsenal–but this time, it struck the scarred mutant’s back. Thermonuclear flames burned into the softer flesh, and at first Godzilla bellowed in pain. But as the beam lasted, his body began to quickly absorb its radioactive properties, giving the irradiated reptile a meal more than anything.

Eventually the atomic ray ceased to be, and the elder’s dorsal plates stopped glowing–however, Godzilla’s own continued to do so.

No longer were they the usual blood-red, the saurian’s back had now changed to a bright, violet hue. Godzilla could feel the radiation within him begin to skyrocket, so much so that much of it already began to taint the area around him. His scars glowing with that same purple light, the mutant reptile uttered a silent warning as his jaws slowly gaped like a snake, his lower jaw splitting in half as the radioactive glow shone from his maw like a ghostly flashlight. The elder roared and began to speedily march toward him, but Godzilla paid him no mind. Remembering how he had used this weapon last time, Godzilla mentally prayed he would have perfect control over the conflagration he knew would follow as he let loose.

Rearing his head back and snapping downward, Godzilla painfully vomited an explosive burst of purple gas that rapidly rushed forward like a wave to encompass the elder’s entire form. The elder bellowed loudly as he was nearly knocked off his feet, but strain as he may Godzilla continued to vomit a continuous river of the radioactive vapor. It wasn’t to last, however, for the gas was merely a prelude to something far more dreadful to behold. Instinctively, a membrane of protective skin sealed shut over his eyes, and Godzilla wished he could take a deep breath before the inevitable took form… … …

With a loud roar, the gas ignited into a colossal blast of atomic fire. Every ounce of the glowing vapor was ignited, and the elder Godzilla had barely a moment to roar before he was completely engulfed in a massive wall of flame that drowned out his howls of agony. The fire spread in all directions, turning the entire ground for half a mile to molten slag while decimating any buildings in its path. For a good twenty seconds, Godzilla fought with every ounce of strength in his neck to hold his head in the direction of the elder, bathing him in nuclear flames. It was then that the main event showed itself; the Thermal Flame quickly condensed into the saurian’s most powerful weapon, the Radiation Heat Ray.

Fighting harder than ever, Godzilla held his body stiff as he fired the ray into the elder’s chest with pin-point accuracy. A booming scream thundered from the elder’s jaws as the Radiation Heat Ray welded near-effortlessly into his chest like a hellish blowtorch, cutting and searing prehistoric flesh, muscle, and bone out of existence. The elder’s roars were half of indescribable agony and half utter determination not to be dominated. No matter the gravity of his wounds, the old predator would never surrender. Booming a quaking growl, the elder fell to one knee and presented his more armored shoulder to take the brunt of the assault. Unfortunately for him, such a move proved no better than before as the Radiation Heat Ray lanced into his body and out the other end in no time.

Painfully snapping his toothed jaws, Godzilla finally cut off his primary weapon as he gave the elder time to contemplate his options.

*****

At first, Godzilla saw nothing but white. Terrible, molten, pure white clouded his once razor-sharp vision; his body was on the verge of going into numb shock from so much pain. Minutes felt like hours as the white slowly began to give way to forming familiar shapes, the background of the environment reforming in Godzilla’s eyes. Or at least, what was left of it. Rumbling as viciously as he could make himself, the Alpha Predator painfully lifted his head to look at the abomination with newfound horror and loathing. It was bad enough the abomination had taken on his species’ basic physical outline; now, this disfigured travesty had stolen fire from the gods!

It had committed hubris–now, it was going to have to suffer judgement.

Godzilla stood slowly to his full height, his dorsal spines beginning to light up one by one for the second time. The abomination boomed an infrasonic rumble and fired its Radiation Heat Ray once more. Godzilla held his hands up in defense, only for the beam to weld straight through them in two seconds and begin drilling into his chest once more. Loosing a cry of defiance, the Alpha Predator reached his full charge and let loose his atomic ray to match that of his opponent.

*****

Both beams had locked in a battle that was every bit as spectacular as the one waged by their respective owners. The molten battlefield was bathed in a spectral blue-violet glow that looked as if a portal to another plane of existence had opened in the very heart of Chiyoda itself; radiation levels had climbed through the roof in measurements unlike any Japan had ever seen before.

Both Godzillas stood undeterred amidst the otherworldly carnage, pouring every drop of atomic power they could muster into letting loose their respective weapons as one attempted to overpower the other. But try as they might, neither could best the other, and the struggle seemed destined to go on for eternity. The second Godzilla, despite his crippling wounds, still held strong against the heated current of the beam lock, only occasionally swaying to and fro as he kept his balance in the push to overcome his evolved foe. The original Godzilla moved nary save for the rattling of his immense body and thrashing of his tail, due to the titanic power of the heated conflict. If anything, he seemed almost rooted into the ground like a divine tree.

Even the occupants within G-Center had to narrow their eyes to protect themselves from the blinding lights given off by the outside struggle. Yasuko didn’t bother video-taping this footage herself; the crew here recorded everything. If–no, when this was all over, she would have plenty of footage to show to her family for the years to come. Not that any of it mattered, for her eyes were glued to the degrading timer, and the timer only. The G-Force operator wanted to give the order to send out the Super-X3 right now, wanted them to go out and make short work of the thermonuclear warhead before it got anywhere at all close to mainland Japan, but she knew she wouldn’t do it without the Prime Minister’s confirmation. She trusted Takasu enough to know that she knew they would need to give the order at exactly the right time.

Yasuko erratically sighed. Man truly was more frightening than Godzilla.

The woman sighed, keeping all that she knew in mental order to steady her mounting anxiety. The Super-X3 was already prepared, its crew stationed and ready to take off. Its cadmium rounds were all prepped and ready, its ULT Cryo-lasers at full power, its TA32 heat layer at full functionality. When Takasu did give the order, they would do the same thing to the warhead that they had been trained to do to Godzilla when he reawoke. But despite knowing this, there was always the ‘what if’ that bit mercilessly in the back of her mind, infecting her heart with its fearful poison.

What if they didn’t reach the warhead in time?

What if they got close but missed it?

What if it was only a one and a million chance they could possibly hit it?

What if they got in the way and it detonated on the vessel?

What if blasting it triggered an airborne detonation?

Yasuko closed her eyes and drew another breath as she watched the timer decrease second by second; every one that passed was an inaudible tick that poked in her mind and mind only, her ears only able to register such a nonexistent sound because her eyes were so focused on a subject that was so often its source. A subject that often made noise with a second’s passing.

Tick, tick, tick, tick… … …

The real-world silence, the fact that the noise was relayed only in her head as the decaying numbers signaled every moment closer to the fiery doomsday that awaited her, her crew, her beloved angel and the angel of their own, was far more horrific than any audible ticking a clock could make. Far more blood-chilling than the relentless rumble that persisted through the bowels of G-Center from the nuclear beam-struggle occurring right before her very eyes, yet so very far away.

Tick, tick, tick, tick… … …

She would’ve given anything for there to be an actual clock in the room to make some noise. At least it would make for a mildly more tolerable replacement for the psychological substitute threatening to break her mind to pieces with frightened grief.

Her eyes opened. Her exhale loosed softly from her throat.

This was what she had signed up for. This was what she trained for. This was why she had taken the job. There would always be fear for what lay before her–that came with this job. Everyone held it themselves, and some like herself made no effort to conceal it. But she wasn’t here to just sit here and give in to the terror that haunted her being. Wasn’t here to mourn her losses before they had even come to light. Not one of those instances came with this job.

She was here to put an end to those losses before they could even begin. She was here to aid in a fight to put an end to further tragedy stemming from the one that took her parents’ lives. She was here to do as her nation pleased when a mentally unhinged dictator sought to obliterate their livelihood and expect them to sit helplessly and take it as a ‘last hope’ to destroy a threat beyond mankind’s understanding. The organization she worked for was founded on, had built means to protect themselves from, the very notion of circumstances such as this occurring. Its very existence was to resist events such as this in ways the old government couldn’t.

Tick, tick, tick, tick… … …

The G-force operator exhaled, allowing a brief second to remember the most joyful day of her life, just one precious second to reminisce the memory of the day her life changed in a way she would never trade anything else for in her life.

Her eyes opened. That one second was all she needed.

“Send them out.”

Yasuko grabbed her mic. “Super-X3, you are clear for takeoff.”

*****

The second Godzilla was every bit as relentless as his mutated counterpart when it came to terms of not giving a care in the world. The temperature around them had begun to distort the air, the entire battlefield itself was all but composed of artificial lava, and yet both kaiju stood heel-high in the molten material and kept on with their atomic struggle.

The Alpha Predator poured more energy into his atomic ray as he took a step forward, testing to see if he could get a reaction from the God Incarnate. But the original Godzilla remained still and steadfast as ever, protective membranes still sealed defensively over his eyes. The old predator’s eyes furrowed into a vicious glare, his patience being tested to its limit like never before; nonetheless, he continued to pour every drop of power from his gaping jaws in the seemingly never-ending effort to topple the unnatural deity. Despite keeping his focus on the struggle, the elder Godzilla allowed his gaze to fall upon the mutant’s tail, which had suddenly raised and pointed itself stiff in his direction. The Permian Predator raised an eyebrow at this, unsure of what exactly it meant.

Then, the violet glow of the original Godzilla’s back rapidly snaked along the entire length of the appendage, reaching the very tip as a purple spark flashed in the spines… … …

Another Radiation Heat Ray, equal in power to the one flowing from the mutant’s jaws, shot forth from the tail and lanced deeply into the armored flesh of the second Godzilla’s back. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, the tail began to drift along the old one’s back, and before the predator could anticipate the mutant’s plan, it was too late. The tail beam nigh-effortlessly sliced off all but the entirety of the old one’s dorsal plates in bursts glowing blue smoke, causing the elder to at last cut off his atomic ray and shrill in agony. Both Radiation Heat Rays then swept downward to cut into his torso, bringing the second Godzilla to his knees.

With a snap of his jaws, the original Godzilla cut off both beams with a growl. As seconds passed, the flash protection membranes slid back into the sockets to reveal his eyes once more, fixing the old Godzilla with that same animalistic stare. For a moment, nobody moved. The heat billowed around the two giants; melted rock, metal and plastic pooled around their clawed feet; the first Godzilla uttering a deep, thunderous warning to the second. Once more, the scarred animal was giving his elderly rival a chance to back down.

Trembling like a dying tree, the natural Godzilla pushed his palm on his knee as he slowly began to rise back to his feet, upper lip curling into a snarl as he rose to meet the mutant eye-to-eye. No matter the severity of his wounds, he still refused to back down or surrender. Masses of cerulean smoke pouring from the shattered remnants of his dorsal spines, the second Godzilla bellowed in reply to the original’s warning, letting him know it had gone unheeded.

Both Godzillas visibly twitched in surprise when they heard a distant roar, but one of an entirely inorganic source entirely. The reptilian giants turned their heads to the original Godzilla’s right, and sure enough both easily scoped out the distant metal bird that had taken flight several hundred meters away. Large and green, and had it been closer it would’ve been around half their own size. But it paid them no heed, never so much as turned in their direction, only flew along on its way as it seemed headed out to sea. The original Godzilla watched it with a mix of curiosity and caution, his snout pointed at it as if locking on like a heat-seeking missile. Like any animal, he instinctively waited for any sudden change in behavior of the mechanical construct, perceived any oncoming attack. But it never came.

Rather, another one entirely.

The elder charged faster than his massive size seemed to allow, but the scarred Godzilla reacted just as quickly. His dorsal spines glowing lavender once more, he let loose his Radiation Heat Ray. Despite the atomic lance driving into his body, the second Godzilla kept running, screaming a defiant war cry as he neared the evolved reptile in seconds. The first Godzilla lashed out with his hands, but the Alpha Predator ducked under and hoisted the God Incarnate onto his steaming back. The mutated behemoth roared in defiance as he slashed away with his claws, cutting deep wounds into the elder’s side, but this did little to deter the old predator.

Roaring a malevolent eulogy to the irradiated saurian, the second Godzilla unleashed a literal Nuclear Pulse from his back point blank on the first, sending him flying hundreds of meters into the sky with a screech that would’ve broken the eardrums of thousands of birds had they been present to witness the event. Burnt flesh cracked from the beast’s torso from the force of the concussive impact, nuclear blood leaked from the injuries as the mutant soared… … …then, after meeting a point of standstill, 92,000 metric-tons of reptilian bulk plummeted back down to the molten earth with yet another howling shriek.

Artificial lava exploded upward in a superheated geyser composed of anything but water. The second Godzilla roared to the heavens, denouncing his fallen rival as the shower of magma fell back to the ground. Amidst the dying lava shower, the natural Godzilla was able to make out a familiar outline, and triumph gave way to caution. The first Godzilla’s dorsal region protruded from the makeshift magma, still retaining its crimson glow. A subtle hint of the possibility that the nuclear behemoth still lived. Treading as lightly as he could on his feet, the Permian King of the Monsters stalked toward the unmoving kaiju like a leopard stalking an antelope, ignoring the searing agony of his wounds that had begun to catch up with him. His claws tensed, his jaws opened slightly to bare his teeth as he prepared to pounce… … …

… … …and a building-shattering roar screamed from his 250 million year old lungs when a volley of lavender beams erupted from the first Godzilla’s back! Cutting into all different sections of the second Godzilla’s body, the unexpected burst sent him stumbling blindly away in excruciating torture while a massive form began to rise from the field of melted rock.

Still keeping up fire, the first Godzilla rose from his superheated tomb with a baritone roar. The New Century King of the Monsters kept fire on the elder for a good twelve seconds, allowing his built-in radar to do the work of “seeing” the predator while he let him have it. Only when his radiation levels began to lower more than he felt comfortable with did he pull the ceasefire. The moment he did, an atomic ray slammed into his back, sending him stumbling forward with its kinetic force.

Eventually the stream of radioactive particles came to an end, and both combatants were free to face one another and look over their wounds. The original Godzilla’s cracked torso had long finished healing over, having been damaged by the concussive force of the elder’s nuclear pulse more than anything. Some of his dorsal spines, though, had visibly broken off from the elder’s surprise attack–and already, new ones were beginning to grow and take their place like shark teeth. But even despite his relatively stable condition, the scarred saurian hung his head low with visible exhaustion.

To say the second Godzilla was in a far worse condition was needless. Grisly burns and cauterized holes covered his once majestic build; one of his eyes had been seared out, leaving its socket crisp black; glowing blue smoke continued to weep from his back, mourning the loss of his beloved dorsal spines. Looking at him now, the old Godzilla’s age seemed on display for all the world to see.

Yet life still persisted in the old king. And as long as there was life, there was gonna be a fight.

The Alpha Predator’s vocal cords expelled a defiant trill, his unbreakable will seeming to glow from his one good eye. The God Incarnate answered with a defensive bellow, warning the natural Godzilla to back off. A notion that went unheard once more as the Permian Monster King sucked in a breath and spat an atomic ray that smacked into the mutant’s face. While the heat did little damage whatsoever, the force of the impact sent the original Godzilla reeling with a screech of pain, having gained a painful headache from the attack.

But as the old predator charged him like a maddened sumo wrestler, the burnt reptile recovered just as quickly and held his ground to meet him.

*****

“How are we doing?” Yasuko’s voice crackled through the headset of Major Akira Yuki, who’s indifferent expression remained unchanged as he merely raised one hand to grab the mic while holding the control pedals with the other.

“Systems are working just like in the drills,” he answered. He motioned to the young man on his right, who nodded back as he switched on the necessary panels in preparation for their current objective.

“ULT Lasers are ready for discharge,” piped Koji Shinjo, giving a thumbs up to his co-pilots. Kiyoshi Sato returned the gesture across from him, before proceeding to answer back into the mic. “You all just sit back and let us do the work.”

A colossal hybrid of a C1-30 and an F-18 sheathed in sleek olive armor, the Super-X3 roared across the cold skies flawlessly, flames howling from its engine as it streaked dead-set on its goal like a comet. 40 meters long and spanning a wingspan of almost 60 meters, the Super-X3 was already living up to its nationalistic reputation as Japan’s shining pride of defense. The strongest turbulence could not stem its resolve as it powered through the atmosphere with the pace of a hurled stone.

On the monitor, Yuki’s already stoic gaze darkened when his eyes caught sight of the peril that had hung over their country’s head for four years. The B-2 bomber responsible for carrying out the task of transporting the warhead had already launched the missile, the aircraft itself seemingly nowhere in sight while the warhead now streaked toward the center of Tokyo like the harbinger of apocalyptic destruction it was. Even Shinjo and Sato, who were usually more talkative, held hardened gazes toward the missile as their vessel rapidly shortened the distance between them. They may be of younger age, but they too knew just how incomprehensibly high the stakes were as long as that device remained in existence. Such was the very nature of nuclear weapons.

Yuki’s fingers wrung around the trigger as they neared, his crewmates following the same course of action. “Targeting systems are locked on,” Shinjo reported. “Prepare to fire ULT Lasers.” In accordance with his words, the ‘nose’ of the Super-X3 had opened, revealing the dish that served its subzero purpose. In spite of the considerable distance between the coming warhead and the futuristic fighter-plane, the dish pointed just perfectly at its intended target, locking on target as flawlessly as its manufacturers had designed it to be.

Yuki didn’t waste a second.

Without a word the Major’s fingers clenched the trigger, and the nozzle of the Super-X3 screamed to life with a jagged, focused beam of utter cold. The lowest, most frigid temperatures of Antarctica itself all contained into a single narrow blast that closed the gap between its owner and the nuclear warhead hundreds of meters away in less than a second, striking it with exactly the right accuracy. In an instant, the warhead was demolecularized in midair, frozen at such temperatures it was destroyed at a microscopic level and replaced with a sculpture of ice weaved in the shape of the missile, a process much like that of fossilization–but far quicker and the object turning to ice instead of rock. A third of a second later, it exploded harmlessly into a cloud of glittering vapor.

It was all over in a second. A future of millions of lives lost in a colossal blaze of nuclear fire, an entire city reduced to a smoldering ruin rendered uninhabitable for decades to come, all put to an end before it could begin. He may not have shown it externally in the slightest, but Major Akira Yuki would be flat-out lying if he denied the patriot within him screaming joyfully and growing proud at what he and his co-pilots had just prevented; about the dark future that had just ceased to exist with the press of a button.

“I’m taking to Twitter when we get back,” Shinjo said with a grin as he reached over to give Sato a high-five, “300 yen says he calls us an enemy of the people.” Sato shook his head with a half-sad, half-grateful smile.

“If close to half the country supports a man who pulls stunts like that, then I’m proud to be their enemy.” Shinjo nodded in agreement. “Let’s just hope the bigger half will vote,” he replied. “Otherwise, we’ll have to keep embarrassing them like this on a regular basis.”

Sato sighed, this time an apparent sadness in his tone. “Oh, what does it matter? 400 yen says nothing happens, and his cronies turn another blind eye.” Shinjo gave him a weak half-smile in understanding, reaching out his hand as the co-pilots prepared to confirm their bet.

“Shinjo,” Yuki’s gravelly voice cut through the humorous atmosphere like a shuriken. Both young men turned to gaze at him, watching as he lit a cigarette before blowing a puff that they tried their hardest not to wrinkle their noses at. For a good twenty seconds, he said nothing, only continued to turn the Super-X3 around to begin the course back home. And then… … …

“600 yen says he gets investigated and calls it a witch hunt.”

Shinjo’s face rose back into a gleeful smile as he turned to Sato, and the pair laughed. “Alright, you’re on!”

The Super-X3 roared across the heavens as it sailed like a triumphant ship toward its homeland.

*****

Tyrannosaur-like jaws crunched a scarred neck with a bite force among the most powerful on the planet. The original Godzilla hollered painfully as his ragged skin cracked like an eggshell under the Alpha Predator’s diamond-crunching bite, his blood seeping from the wound like a nuclear egg yolk. The second Godzilla recoiled from the mutant’s superheated blood, but nonetheless continued to slash and tear away at the injury with swipe after stab of his claws. The God Incarnate roared in the elder’s face as he grasped him by the shoulder with one hand, while proceeding to jab his claws into the elder’s torso and rake downward. The natural Godzilla snarled viciously as he lunged forward, this time chomping the cancerous reptile’s shoulder and quickly shaking his head to tear the injury.

But the evolved Godzilla fought back with just as much animalistic fury.

Ululating a feral battle growl, the New Century King of the Monsters plunged his needle-like teeth through the second Godzilla’s neck–including his right set of gills. The Permian Predator howled in painful surprise as he felt droplets of his own blood begin to trickle down into his lungs, a situation which only worsened when the God of Destruction began shaking his head as well. As if that weren’t bad enough, the mutant began to scratch away at the other side of the elder’s neck with his right hand.

Nature’s Fearsome Guardian bellowed defiantly as he thrashed with a newfound aggression, deciding to try his luck maiming the apex of evolution. All the while he snapped his jaws in an attempt to grab the mutant by the neck, he slashed and cut away at his foe’s torso with his free hands. The original Godzilla noticed, but still continued to maul his most vulnerable area. So the old predator improvised in the only way he knew how.

The natural Godzilla kept slashing his enemy’s torso just enough to catch him off-guard when an atomic ray thundered forth from his jaws, striking the scarred behemoth’s chest and forcing him off. The Alpha Predator kept the flow going for an impressive twelve seconds before ceasing, falling to one knee from fatigue; the cerulean steam flowing from his back slowly lessening in mass as his wound slowly continued to mend itself from “bleeding” its precious radiation.

The original Godzilla took a booming step toward the old timer; fingers twitching, blood dripping from his numerous oral icepicks. The second Godzilla looked up to glare at him through the haze of radioactive heat as he huffed and puffed, saying a thousand words just with that look alone. The Permian King of the Monsters hoarsed a raspy snarl at the cancerous saurian, his feet sinking further below the molten floor as he began to push himself back to his full height.

*****

Godzilla knew what was coming the moment he saw the elder rise to his feet. Once more there was no backing down, no resigning for the ancient leviathan. The burnt behemoth knew his multiple warning attempts were all but hopeless; he had tried time and again to ward the old predator off and attempt by attempt yielded the exact same results. If he was going anywhere, he was going to have to finish this fight. If he wanted to walk away, he was going to have to best the elder in the end.

It was quite possible, in fact, that he was going to have to kill him.

Trace fingers of radioactive smoke rising from his damaged back, the elder’s one good eye seemed to glow through the molten ruins of Chiyoda as he roared at Godzilla; the detrimental aspects of his age seemingly all but replaced by the beneficial. Godzilla returned the roar with one of his own, one shorter but just as loud and bone-chilling, laced with layers of infrasound that actually startled the elder stiff for a second, like a tiger roaring at a deer. The elder’s remaining eye fixed Godzilla with a predatory glare, a bird of prey eying its victim. But try as he might to intimidate the irradiated reptile, Godzilla’s feral, animalistic stare of warning delivered the same intention and succeeded just as much. A blank but clearly vicious look that seemed to bore straight through his ancient soul.

Rays of azure light began to travel up the elder’s back, shining as replacements for his severed dorsal spines. Godzilla’s back and scars changed from crimson to bright lavender, heralding his intentions. The elder’s remaining eye lit up with the same glow as his back, the hum of his inner nuclear power growing in intensity. Godzilla’s flash protection membranes slid over his eyes as he opened his maw, his lower jaw splitting in half once more. The elder opened his jaws, his maw glowing a brilliant sapphire hue. Godzilla’s mouth lit up like a Christmas light, shining with a ghostly amethyst shade.

At once, they let loose.

The Atomic Ray met the Radiation Heat Ray. Nuclear pyroclastic flow met atomic blowtorch lance in yet another clash of nuclear power. Tails thrashing, feet digging into the melted ground, the two titans squared off with their atomic arsenals yet again. No faltering, no sign of weakness or giving in to the building pressure, they were as unstoppable in their conflict as they had been the last time. A literal nuclear arms race waged by two prehistoric radioactive behemoths beyond humankind’s understanding.

And yet it was here into the battle that the inevitable catalyst began to show signs of existence. The ball of energy in the center of the colliding heat rays was building in intensity and pressure. With every second that passed, more and more nuclear energy built up nonstop into the middle of the heated clash; its stability plummeting by the second. Like a dying star the sphere of energy dwindled as its balance ever lost control due to too much atomic power clashing at such a rate, growing at a rate beyond the control of either of its users. Even if they wanted to stop, which they didn’t, both monsters couldn’t stop the unavoidable outcome that was to befall them at any moment now. They simply stood in place like statues hardwired on finishing the titanic battle, pouring every last drop of radiation they had into overpowering the other until at last the beam lock couldn’t handle any more and its balance spiraled dead out of control.

*****

The occupants at G-Center covered their faces with their arms as a blinding light filled the room, a light of which both Godzillas disappeared into. Nobody needed to look upon the screen to know what that light meant–they knew what would be coming in short order. So they shielded their eyes for as long as possible, letting the light passing through their eyelids inform them of the state of things; sure enough, it didn’t take long for the light from the rupture to fade in silence. But that didn’t stop them from standing their ground, knowing what would follow.

The floor vibrated thunderously–the shockwaves arrived.

The crew were lucky that the desks and computers were rooted into the floor, because had they not a great many of them would’ve fallen off balance and shattered apart. Not even all of the crew were able to keep their balance and fell to the floor in place of their digital devices from the force of the tremors. None could tell just how large the explosion had been but seeing it on the screen wasn’t necessary to know it was a powerful one, and such a burst would likely pack enough radioactive fallout to leave the Chiyoda Ward uninhabitable for a couple or more years. One Godzilla alone had been enough to do so in mere minutes; it was impossible to predict the aftermath of an all-out nuclear war between two such creatures.

Yasuko held steady on the trembling floor, having been knocked off her feet by the shockwaves. She kept herself in a sprawled position, like a crocodile, keeping low so as to not so easily get flung about the ground by the roaring tremors. The G-Force operator tried to steady herself with deep breaths, but such an exercise did little to stem the near-paralyzing stress. Thankfully, the fates grew more merciful with every passing second as the shaking began to lessen in intensity.

When the tremors died to the point where physical mobility was an option once more, Yasuko wasted no time snapping up off the floor and back into her post. “Super X-3, do you have a visual?” she spoke into her retrieved head-mic.

“Negative,” Shinjo’s voice replied, “too much smoke and debris. We’ll circle around at a safe distance to wait.” Yasuko nodded slightly. “Understood. Switching to aerial camera now.”

It was only a mere five seconds after Prime Minister Takasu recollected herself and stood to her feet that the screen above switched views, providing an aerial outlook at the fiery aftermath of the blast. The flames were already dying rapidly, but the battlefield remained molten and superheated; so much so, that a portion of it was actually beginning to pool downward in a wide, conical fashion. Meanwhile, what looked to be a 700-meter radius of what remained of the central Chiyoda ward was enshrouded in smoke, obscuring all view of whether or not either one of the two Godzillas had survived the rupture.

A small vibration in Yasuko’s pocket temporarily drew her attention, and she stole a glance at her phone. Her eyes teared up a bit when she saw the text from Chinatsu, a sigh of relief leaving her.

We’re okay.

Yasuko stroked her ring finger softly, praying that they had seen the last of the nuclear titans. That after so long of living in anxiety and dread, the terror that took her parents’ lives and plagued her and her family with a fearful four years was at last at a close … … …

A prayer that unfortunately evaporated like a snowflake on the sun when a distant roar echoed through the fading smoke. Distant, but familiar.

The smoke was slowly clearing but had faded enough that on the outskirts of the molten field Yasuko’s eyes spotted a faint outline increasing in visibility. “We have movement in the area. It’s Godzilla!” she announced.

“Which Godzilla?” Chujo called to her.

“The first one, sir,” Yasuko answered, recognizing the body shape and design of the dorsal spines.

Takasu turned to her with narrowed eyes–not out of anger, but clear growing anxiety. “Operator, can you get a visual on the second?” Holding her head-mic closer to her mouth, Yasuko reached out to contact the crew of the Super-X3 once more.

“Super-X3, do you have a visual on the second Godzilla?”

After a few seconds of silence, Yuki’s voice crackled through a reply. “Negative, operator. All we see is the first.”

“And he looks a little worse for wear, too,” Sato spoke up. “If the second one didn’t make it, we could go down there and freeze the first while we’ve got the chance–wait… … …”

Eerie silence took over, but Yasuko didn’t bother asking why he had ceased talking. Her focus was no longer on giving or receiving orders–no, her gaze was glued to the screen, as were the eyes of everyone in the room.

“G-Center, are you seeing this?!” Shinjo’s raised voice crackled through the mic, but Yasuko couldn’t find the breath to give a reply. Words failed her as she stared at the anomaly gradually growing in visibility on the screen. The original Godzilla was now fully exposed from the fading smoke cloud, standing ankle-high in the molten rock.

And, through the smoke, something massive–something glowing–was wading toward him.

*****

Godzilla shook his head with a bellow as he rose from the liquefied earth. His scars glowed brightly as he absorbed the high levels of radiation in the air, the explosion having given him a helpful boost of energy in of itself. His body was all but unscathed minus the keloid burns that already composed his form, his swaying stance attributed to dizziness and exhaustion more than anything. His throat inflated and deflated ever so slightly with air as silent breaths wisped between his teeth, the mutated reptile taking a much-needed breather from such fatigue. He was thankful for the high levels of radiation in the vicinity, the meal providing a big help in his recovery. If his internal fission levels stayed at such a state, he wouldn’t have to raid a nuclear plant to replenish like he had beforehand.

Godzilla’s internal radar sensed a change. The wind suddenly shifted, his unblinking eyes staring ahead. It didn’t matter that thick levels of smoke still obscured his eagle-like vision–his phased-array radar instinctively told him everything he needed to know.

His rival still lived–and yet, there was an anomaly. A new aura permeating off of the scent… … …

The smoke was fading, and with it a glow began to shine through. A different glow than the artificial lava that surrounded him. Significantly brighter and packed to one spot, and said spot was moving in his direction. Godzilla boomed a threatening rumble as the orange illumination continued to grow, a familiar shape beginning to take form the closer it drew. A thunderous quake growled into the air as the massive shape walked forward, its glow beginning to penetrate the dying smoke. Godzilla instinctively took a step back as the true, terrifying result of the explosion revealed itself.

The smoke all but blew away when the shape stepped forward and loosed a powerful roar that nearly cracked Godzilla’s eardrums. The elder was glowing like a star; cracks in his armored skin shining with an orange hue to rival the sun, his eyes all but pupil-less from the atomic radiance than shone through them, rays of light beaming through his back in place of his dorsal spikes; his injuries having completely healed, even his ruined eye restored to its former glory. The old predator looked as though he were made of heated magma, his insides fueled by a biological nuclear furnace so hot that it was visible to the human eye.

Godzilla held his ground as the powerful form of Burning Godzilla bellowed forth another godly war cry, deafening enough to shake all of Japan itself with a miniature earthquake!

His back lighting like a violet lantern, Godzilla snapped his jaws open and unleashed his Radiation Heat Ray. At the same time, his tail snapped into a scorpion pose, its tip alight with nuclear power, and unleashed its respective heat ray. But to Godzilla’s surprise, both beams struck Burning Godzilla’s chest with seemingly no harm done. And the burning behemoth continued to march toward the evolved creature as if his attacks never existed to begin with.

Godzilla cut off his heat rays and turned about face, his back still aglow with the same amethyst light. In mere seconds, another volley of Radiation Heat Rays erupted from his back, striking the elder in multiple places.

Burning Godzilla winced once, then continued marching. The molten earth trembling with every footfall.

Godzilla whipped about face once more, the violet rays of atomic light dying away. Taking a step forward, he roared aggressively at Burning Godzilla, the near oxygen-less air distorting from the unnatural cry.

The already blinding radiance of Burning Godzilla’s hulking form began to brighten, a loud humming rapidly building up in the pit of his body. As the light brightened, the hum grew louder and faster, rays of light shining from every orifice. Godzilla snarled as his flash protection membranes snapped over his eyes, bracing himself as the fearsome guardian unleashed his true power.

A nuclear pulse exploded from Burning Godzilla’s shining form, quickly expanding like a dying star as it washed over Godzilla like an atomic tsunami. Magma blew away in waves, some of it even hitting both monsters; any smoke caught in its path evaporated into glowing radioactive vapor; large patches of fiery energy burned on every inch of Godzilla’s crimson skin. Burning Godzilla howled mightily into the sky as he let the unstable fusion within him grow out of control, and in seconds another pulse erupted from his fiery body. The second pulse was even larger, stronger and hotter than the last, and it exhibited enough force to push Godzilla back.

The fiery leviathan roared his denouncement to the God Incarnate as he continued to lumber toward him–but even such a powerful battle cry died down when he saw the clear results of his handiwork. And while glowing, his eyes did not need pupils to express the disbelief that he widened them with.

Godzilla had suffered little, if any, damage whatsoever.

The mutated animal began to march slowly toward him through the sea of molten rock, the heat but a minor nuisance, his scars glowing brighter than beforehand all the while. The evolved creature rumbled a bassy growl, prompting Burning Godzilla to let the nuclear power within him run haywire once more and unleash a third nuclear pulse. The atomic blast washed over Godzilla like water, cinders and embers igniting on his crimson skin… … …and then, in mere seconds, said embers faded and died away while his exposed musculature flashed a bright scarlet once, then died down to their normal intensity of red.

Burning Godzilla screamed in frustration, his claws balling into fists. It was time to end their aggravating game.

Powering his legs through the molten rock as if it didn’t even exist, Burning Godzilla charged toward the God Incarnate like a maddened rhinoceros, his body glowing brighter than ever. Godzilla waited until the elder was close enough, then whipped his tail–only for Burning Godzilla to catch it in his hands and sling him to the molten ground on his back. As Godzilla bellowed fiercely at him, Burning Godzilla roared back before rearing his right foot off the floor, and brought it down hard upon his torso.

The moment his claws met Godzilla’s body, an atomic aura exploded to life that proceeded to engulf both kaiju, expanding to cover the entire Chiyoda ward and muffling a pair of mighty roars.

*****

“What radioactivity!” Shinjo exclaimed as he watched the radiation meter climb to immeasurable levels in seconds. As Yuki steered the Super-X3 away from the superheated expansion that would surely wipe out whatever was left of the Chiyoda ward, Shinjo and Sato sighed to themselves. When this battle came to an end, they were gonna have to freeze every inch of the leftover crater for possibly hours on end if they were going to fight the radiation levels that would surely render the spot uninhabitable. It might even take days to do so–and that said nothing about whether or not they would truly be able to eliminate the potent radioactivity. It wasn’t implausible that they could only stem so much of the damage, and the rest would half to wait two or three years before it could finally fade away.

Nonetheless, they were thankful that this was all the damage they would have to deal with. Had the warhead reached the mainland… … …

Shutting off that horrid line of thought, the young pilots let their superior drive their prized vessel away from the blinding rupture, covering their eyes for the time being as they silently hoped that the radioactive titans had roared their last.

*****

Godzilla opened his eyes to pure brightness.

It took a few moments for the Alpha Predator to realize he was laying submerged in the artificial lava field–after the blinding light of his final attack, he wasn’t certain what had changed. The old saurian’s eyes darted to and fro, seeing nothing but the complex ripples of the melted rock that flowed around him. It wasn’t long before he felt his leg muscles ache, half-numb from staying immobile for goodness-knows how long. His legs stretched pleasurably, as if eager to become mobile yet again, as he pushed himself up out of his igneous tomb. His tail powered a swing, like an alligator swimming through the marshes, and with a geyser of melted rock he burst to the surface with a mighty roar.

Godzilla sighed a mixture of content and exhaustion. His ancient body, no longer laced with burning cracks, had healed of its former injuries thanks to the elevated levels of radiation released into the air; though still his majestic dorsal plates remained absent. Not that it mattered–they would regrow over time. This wasn’t the first occasion he had lost them in combat with another monster.

The King of the Monsters took a step forward, grateful to feel his legs working just fine, with little pain accompanying his movements. There was still some afterburn in the pit of his chest that ached now and then, but he knew it wouldn’t last. Steamy vapor snorted from his nostrils as he tiredly circled around, his head now facing the distant sea. He could smell no scents on the radioactive air, a sign that the mutated abomination that had caused him so much trouble was no more, that he had achieved his goal and restored balance to the planet at last. Therefore, aside from the option to stay and feed on the leftover radiation, there was no reason not to return to his watery domain. For the world, the threat of the abominable New Godzilla had expired, and thus another blight on Nature’s plane had been erased. Nodding with satisfaction, Godzilla puffed out his chest and roared for all of Japan to hear.

There was only room for one king.

*****

Yasuko didn’t know how to feel about what her eyes told her, whether on the screen above or her computer right in front of her; both told the same thing. There was only one signal still active on her scannings–and only one Godzilla remained amidst a field of melted rock that was once the Chiyoda ward.

The nuclear menace that had changed her life forever was no longer; his signal had vanished amidst the atomic blaze. It seemed as though the very power that had created him, given him the limitless capabilities that it did, had destroyed him in the end–a fitting demise for the spawn of nuclear disaster. Yet, Yasuko’s heart didn’t cry out with joy, nor smirk with satisfaction, or marvel at the ironic karma. The G-Force operator stared at the screen with a somewhat blank sense of indifference. Why, she didn’t know either. Perhaps because it had all happened so fast, one minute the God Incarnate still walked upon this Earth as the toxic blight he was, and the next he and all the worldwide nuclear desolation he heralded had been whisked from the face of this good Earth. Perhaps her brain didn’t know yet how to handle such an occasion, one that was seemingly too good to be true, becoming reality; that her mind had only just seen that it was true for a few seconds, and that it needed more time to line it all up and go over the facts one by one, processing everything that had just transpired long enough for whatever necessary emotions to ignite and come out when need be.

Or maybe, it was because she had something new to fear in the original’s place–a new presence to haunt her for the days to come, a new fight that she and the organization she worked for would have to partake in someday. There was no guarantee that this victorious second Godzilla was finished doing business with humanity, whether it be today or at a later date. None of the crew in the room had so much as a clue as to what was going on through the saurian’s head right now and had no prediction of what he would do next. Would he head back out to sea, now that he had defeated his enemy? Would he turn his primal eyes toward the rest of the city? And if not today, would he be back sometime in the future? If so, would it be to protect them from a similar threat?

Or would it be to punish them, to wreak just as much fiery destruction and havoc upon their nation as the first Godzilla had done?

Yasuko took her eyes off the screen, averting her gaze to the one human being whom everyone acted on accord. The one person in this room she trusted more than any other. “The first Godzilla’s signal has been lost,” the G-Force operator announced, “all G-Force units are awaiting your orders, ma’am.”

“Wait,” the older woman replied back almost instantly. “Wait until he makes a move.”

An aura of uneasiness settled in, the rest of the crew gulping silently as all eyes fell back to the primal leviathan looming triumphant on the video feed. Watching him stand there, little sign of movement present, as if he too was contemplating what to do next now that his hideous opponent had fallen. Or perhaps, in ways they didn’t know, he was fully aware that he was participating in a stand-off. Perhaps he was waiting on them, on humanity, waiting for them to make their next move.

No course of action came from either side.

Eventually, the victorious Godzilla just snorted, and with a heavy gait put his back to the city and began to wade through the cooling lake of molten rock, in the direction of Tokyo Bay. The entirety of G-Center breathed a series of audible sighs of relief, Yasuko being among the loudest-

The giant saurian suddenly stopped, his nostrils flaring and his eyes raising with clear alarm. To make matters more distressing, a second blip had shown back up on the radar, causing Yasuko’s heart to suddenly freeze like ice and drop to the pit of her stomach… … …

*****

The second Godzilla turned his back to the sea upon hearing a heavy splash, as if something had just moved within the miniature sea of magma he stood in. His eyes enlarged with shock when his suspicions were confirmed, when a section of magma not three hundred or so meters away began to shift and bulge, like something was trapped deep within its igneous pits. Something fighting, something trying to break free… … …

The bulging and boiling of magma erupted with a warped contrabass roar that threatened to shatter the heavens themselves as the original Godzilla burst tall and almighty from the lake of melted rock, his keloid-scarred body unchanged in spite of the Alpha Predator’s last attack. His open scars blazed not red, but with the same godly orange light that the second Godzilla had been during his ‘burning’ phase. His back and dorsal plates shone with the same fierce orange, his flash protection membranes still sealed shut over his eyes, his keloid-scarred body trembling violently as if yearning to unleash all the stored nuclear power he had obtained.

The second Godzilla would’ve sworn loudly for all to hear had his mind been accustomed to such human concepts, taking a step back upon realizing how badly he had screwed up. Had he only known that his greatest weapon would not harm or cripple his evolved attacker, but feed him instead!

The Doom Inevitable marched toward his dumbfounded rival, his footsteps making the world tremble even with the layers of lava beneath his taloned feet. Heat was no longer an adversary to him; that weakness had long passed when he evolved from his third form to his fourth. His blood, already burning hot, ran on nuclear fission, and his dorsal plates acted as heat vents for his natural internal cooling system. Burning Godzilla’s atomic pulses had done nothing but power him up–their million-degree heat harmless against that of his regular nuclear blood flow; their immeasurable levels of radiation feeding the mixotrophic reptile. The Alpha Predator could’ve never hoped to beat the evolved mutant by overheating him–his one key weakness was, in fact, the exact opposite.

Something unachievable on the old timer’s part.

The second Godzilla had unintentionally given all that stored power to his unnatural rival free of charge, and now dire consequences would await him because of it. It amazed him how much this creature was able to evolve, how much potential it held within itself. Its capabilities truly were limitless! No matter what weaknesses any adversary could find on the creature, it was always only temporary. When the creature had a flaw, it righted it in seconds; whatever had hurt him before wouldn’t do so again. Whatever held him at a disadvantage the first time, would be countered the second.

This animal, whether he liked it or not, truly earned the title of God Incarnate.

His exposed musculature shining brighter than ever, the original Godzilla held back no longer. His lower jaw splitting snake-like in half, the New Century King of the Monsters fired his almighty Radiation Heat Ray–this time not purple, but the same fiery orange as the glow that encompassed his scarred body. Composed of the very power his opponent had unleashed upon him many minutes ago, the carrot-colored lance of atomic radiation knifed effortlessly through the second Godzilla’s chest and out his back. Before the elder could roar out, the end of the mutant’s tail flashed to life and fired another beam that speared through his upper leg. The appendage was stricken by agony so great it went numb instantly, and the Alpha Predator screamed in more misery than he had felt in centuries to the heavens, falling to one knee with a quake. The ancient saurian was not one to go quietly into the night, and with a puff of his chest he released an atomic ray against his enemy’s stomach, pushing him back.

It was a most valiant, yet ultimately futile effort.

The original Godzilla’s tail fired another heat ray, this time lancing through the guardian’s stomach. Cutting off his most formidable weapon, the elder Godzilla howled in agony yet again as the mutated mixotroph pelted him again and again with Radiation Heat Rays made up of his own power. Old wounds that had healed were re-burnt, cauterized holes punched straight through nearly every meter of his monolithic body, and in seconds Nature’s Fearsome Guardian was fighting with every last ounce of strength in his ancient body to stay standing. Bellows of pain filled the superheated air as the original Godzilla unleashed another atomic ray, this one striking the old one’s left set of gills, frying them instantly.

The Permian Predator reeled back, but the moment free of the fiery torture was short-lived.

Whipping himself around to face his dorsal region toward the second Godzilla, the God Incarnate didn’t waste a second before firing a dozen columns of blazing orange photons from his exposed back. There was no dodging, no fleeing, to time to even block for the elder saurian–he was caught dead-center in the laser light show. Beam by beam sliced like a hot dagger through butter through his flesh, muscle and bone and out his body, and a sensation unlike any he had felt in countless millennia overcame him. His vision was white; pure, molten, unrelenting white and nothing more or less. An agony so great that even scientists themselves would argue that it didn’t exist enshrouded every cell, every fiber, every last ounce of his prehistoric being, and a roar the likes of which the world had never heard before vented from his gaping jaws.

And as the roar faded to a rumbling drone, the Old Century King of the Monsters fell to the molten earth with a colossal, splashing THUD!

Pain began to give way to a pregnant numbness, a numbness accompanied by an old friend he knew all too well. An old friend he counted upon to bring him into the realm unconscious. Darkness. Oh, hello darkness, his old friend. But in those last few seconds before he passed out, he caught a last glimpse of the original Godzilla, standing as the undoubted victor of this long, drag-out conflict, his jaws gaping to unleash a howl of victory. But strangely, he saw not the abominable wretch that stood as a boil on this earth that demanded to be lanced. Not the scarred deformity that mocked the shadow of his great, ancient lineage. Not the hideous imitation of a species’ former self, nor even a man-made mistake.

He saw a descendant. A successor. An… … …heir?

The briefest hint of a smile crossed his toothy mug as his eyes finally closed, and his old ally darkness finally ended the pain and allowed him to journey to the most sacred corners of his mind in the realm of sleep, and he passed out.

He saw another Alpha Predator. Just like him.

*****

He did not have to rely on his nose or radar to know the elder wasn’t getting back up.

Godzilla tilted his head to aim his toothed muzzle toward the heavens, his jowls parting to boom a quaking roar that would’ve made the fallen angel himself empty his bowels–but despite victory having been achieved at last, such a concept was not the foremost thing on the mutant reptile’s mind. It was no roar of triumph that howled from his fanged jaws; it was a roar that warned all for miles around to stay away, to not come near. Relief only partially graced Godzilla’s nerves as his roar faded to a bass growl, his breath coming forth in ragged waves when he at last took a moment to simply pant for breath.

His phased-array radar reacted instantly; his brief moment of rest came to an end when he detected an object rapidly approaching his vicinity. Metallic in nature and almost certainly artificial–and approaching from the air. As soon as he began to move, a wave of pure cold chilled through his very being as a burst of subzero energy struck his calf, freezing it in sheets of snow and ice.

An attack that triggered an instant reaction.

Screaming in utter rage, Godzilla snapped his back toward his airborne adversary and fired off another volley of atomic photons. The metal bird’s protective heat layer was not as resistant to the attack as it had been designed to be; the stored power of Burning Godzilla was second by second melting the protective barrier from the God Incarnate’s atomic wrath. At first, the metal bird powered through the onslaught long enough to fire a second cryogenic blast that struck his shoulder, freezing it over instantly.

But, like the elder’s last attack, it too was a futile exertion.

Godzilla’s nuclear light show was cutting holes through its hull, and as if it had a mind of its own the metal bird suddenly veered away with the last of its strength, whatever manipulated it knowing that it stood no chance against the saurian’s upgraded power. But as it turned and headed away, Godzilla allowed his back to follow it, the beams actually slicing off its wings as it lost its once fluid airborne balance. As Godzilla continued to unleash the rest of his stored power, the metallic object fell away into the distance, its distant crash echoing amidst the faraway towers of concrete and steel that still stood.

Only after the last drop of radioactive power drained from the monster’s body and the orange columns of energy shifted back to their normal purple before thinning out and dissipating, did Godzilla finally cease fire. Only then did the God Incarnate take a moment to catch his long-deserved breather, to calm himself down after finally losing his temper. Loud hisses rasped from his half-open maw, like a giant panting crocodile, as Godzilla finally allowed the fatigue of all that had taken place in the last hour to catch up with him. He was awake from his coma; he had made it through what was undoubtedly his greatest challenge in life as a terrestrial animal.

He was so… … …tired.

Godzilla didn’t want to stay here anymore. He wanted nothing more to do with this dreadful place. Four years being trapped in an unnatural sleep and a subsequent attack by a creature that resembled him had sent the message clear through his head that this place wasn’t worth the effort. It was far past time he put his back to this strange land and departed. That he took his leave for a place he had been absent from for far too long. A place he held in the highest of regards, a place he longed to feel claim him once more. His birthplace, his home that he knew so well, even after so long.

The sea.

Godzilla raised his head a little as he felt the energy he needed flow through him. Standing in the middle of the cooling lava crater, absorbing the plentiful radiation in the air to satiate an age-long hunger. His dorsal plates drew in the radioactive properties like a solar panel absorbing sunlight, his back sparkling every now and then with wisps of crimson electricity as he gorged.

Microsievert by microsievert, the radioactivity was drawn into Godzilla’s colossal body, disappearing as it re-energized the nuclear reptile, until eventually the only radiation left was that given off by his presence in the area. His nostrils flaring, Godzilla at last turned in the direction of the great blue sea he so desired to be a part of again, and with thunderous footfalls began his march to freedom.

He paid no mind to the unconscious elder as he lumbered right past him, his blank eyes staring off into space as he continued his walk.

Every step he took, the shallower the artificial magma became, until eventually he felt his taloned foot stomp upon solid concrete for the first time in nearly an hour. The tar and rock cracked under his mighty weight as an impression of his foot formed on the surface, but it was a mere background occurrence for him. Nothing to pay any mind to. So he walked.

And walked.

And walked until he lumbered upon the edge of the endless stretch of water that waved and rippled before him, the roaring of the ocean waves calling him home. A call he accepted with open arms as he took a step into the cold, familiar substance. Deeper he waded, straightforward with no sign of falter, and let himself lean forward and plunge into the heavenly sea with a massive SPLASH!

His glowing spines knifed further oceanward as he swam, massive ripples forming from the swishing of his colossal tail. And then they sunk below the surface, disappearing into the endless blue.

He was home at last.

*****

“Goddamn lizard!” Shinjo snarled as he sat back in his chair. The Super-X3 had lost functionality, and there was no moving from here on out. The once proud aerial vessel built for Godzilla’s defeat now lay sprawled, crippled and helpless somewhere in the middle of Tokyo, somewhere far away from the igneous battleground. Whether their prized battleship had been damaged beyond repair, none of the trio knew. As of this very second, however, repair schematics could come later–they needed to re-establish contact with their peers at G-Center. God knows where Godzilla was headed now that he had disposed of the last of his opposition–plus, everyone at the center probably knew more than they did at the current moment.

“Got anything yet?” Yuki asked as Sato picked up his mic, tapping it to test its functionality. The static he had heard seconds ago came to an end, and the young pilot capitalized on the given opportunity. “G-Center, can you read me? Super-X3 is crippled, incapable of further use. Damage levels unknown, target whereabouts unknown. Respond, over?”

No response.

Sato shook his head. “Damn it,” he cursed. “Pick up, why don’t you?” he smacked his headset again, attempting to trigger a change. But nothing came through. “Shinjo, why don’t you-”

“This is G-Center, we read you loud and clear!” Yasuko’s voice nearly made the men jump out of their seats. “Godzilla has left Japan behind. He headed out to sea not thirty seconds ago.” At this, Yuki sighed and pulled out another cigarette, lighting it for a puff. His crewmates’ faces fell in defeat and frustration along with him as he inhaled the tobacco and let out an exhale. “How’s the Super-X3 look from out there?”

“You’ve lost your wings and suffered large holes in the bottom of the hull, but it doesn’t seem damaged beyond repair,” the G-Force operator’s voice replied through the comms, eliciting sighs of relief from the pilots sans Yuki. “You three landed in Shiroyama dori Avenue, in the Itabashi ward. You can emerge from the vessel, and we’ll send a rescue to pick you three up.”

Shinjo nodded in reply. “Roger that, operator. We’ll send a flare when you get close.”

*****

Yasuko leaned back in her chair as she cut off the communications, sighing with gratitude. “They’re okay,” she announced, resulting in her co-workers cheering gratefully. Prime Minister Takasu and her cabinet exhaled with relief at the news, grateful that no more lives had been lost. “Thank God for that,” Hatogaya murmured in reply.

“Get those choppers in the air. Let’s get them back to base right away,” Takasu directed, “make sure those three don contamination suits before they’re transported. God knows how much radioactivity the Super-X3 absorbed from Godzilla’s heat rays.”

“And what of the second Godzilla?” Chujo asked. “Now that he is at his weakest, what is to be done with him?”

“Based on his behavior prior to the first Godzilla’s return” Hatogaya interjected, “I think the option is simple.”

“And?” Chujo was getting impatient. A common characteristic of the man–and what Hatogaya replied with only heightened his relatively short temper.

“Do nothing. Let him go.”

“NO!” Chujo slammed his fist on the table. “Extermination’s the answer!” he turned to Takasu. “A few maser tanks?”

“Even if we gathered them to one spot and opened fire while he was asleep, they would only do just as well as our previous assault,” the Prime Minister answered. “Even if they are equipped enough to injure the creature, they’d have to spend days chiseling at him to kill him. And that’s just saying if he stays asleep, which is unlikely.”

“Furthermore,” she continued, “if they fire at him while he’s awake, it will only lead to further collateral damage that will extend outside of Chiyoda, not to mention the needless loss of more lives.”

She turned back toward the old man. “I don’t always agree with him, but I’m siding with Hatogaya on this. Our resources are all but useless, and our only weapon capable of truly besting him is crippled beyond further use. As of now, there’s little to do but wait until he wakes, and heads back out to sea.”

“What about the President of the U.S.?” Yasuko asked from the back of the room. “How do you think today will affect his public position?”

Takasu smirked slyly at the question. “He tried to wipe out a city of thirteen million with the first use of a nuclear weapon on Japan since World War II, all in broad daylight, and we put a stop to it and embarrassed him for all to see, subsequently embarrassing America in the process.” Her smile grew broader. “How do you think everything will unfold for him at this point?”

“I’ll put it this way,” the G-Force operator responded with a smile of her own tugging at her lips, “I hope Yuki wins his bet with his co-pilots.”

“Don’t we all,” Hatogaya shook his head with a light grin. “Nowadays, I wonder if there even is a limit anymore.”

“Oh, I think there will be,” Takasu said. “Attempting destruction of an entire city without giving so much as a warning is a far different matter than anything that son of a bitch has done in the past. Even those close to him know that full well.”

“In the meantime,” Hatogaya piped up, “other countries must be careful on how they use nuclear power–if anything, all of us should look to using new energy sources. Godzilla is back on the loose, and he reportedly lives off radioactive material. If he ever gets hungry, he might target France or the U.S. next.”

“Let them have it,” Chujo scoffed, “after all they nearly cost us today–”

Takasu fixed him with an intense glare, cutting him off faster than the blink of an eye.

“Don’t blame an entire country of innocent lives for the sins of a handful of those in power,” she spoke calmly, yet fiercely. “Otherwise, we’re no better than them.”

Whatever was building in the man’s vocal cords died in an instant, even his pride knowing full well when to quit. Takasu lightly shook her head before continuing. “If Godzilla lands on American soil, we’ll gladly come to their aid whether the current dictator likes it or not. And once he’s been kicked out of office and replaced by a real president, then current political strains will be lessened considerably to say the least. But there’s one problem…”

“Problem, ma’am?” Yasuko asked.

“We only have a single anti-Godzilla weapon formidable enough to potentially match him, and it was downed in battle not fifteen minutes ago.” She sighed, turning back to the screen. “We can’t rely on the Super-X3 alone. We need more means of defense–especially given that there are two Godzillas in the world now. Lord knows what else may be waiting for us out there.”

She closed her eyes for a moment and took a silent breath.

“This all may only be just the beginning.”

*****

Puffs of vapor wisped loudly from two gigantic nostrils as a slumbering lifeform re-awoke. Lids of scaly skin lifted to reveal two weary, orange eyes that gazed tiredly upon the environment around them. With every muscle and nerve that re-activated through his massive body, Godzilla hissed as all the pain suffered in his defeat returned ounce by ounce. The King of the Monsters gazed around and saw no sign of the scarred mutant. He took a whiff through his nostrils, and found only a vague whiff of the creature remained behind. A sure sign he had long departed by now.

Summoning his willpower, Godzilla fought against the horrible pain as he strained to push himself out of the cooling artificial magma. As he rose with a loud grunt, he noticed that some of his injuries were not in as poor condition as they had been when he collapsed. It seems like the radiation left behind had helped somewhat in his recovery–but that said very little. Every inch of his monolithic form hurt like the lowest plane of oblivion, and the trace amounts of radiation left over from their explosive battle would be nowhere near close enough to restore him to his full strength. His time on this island was over.

It was time to head back home.

Godzilla lumbered through the viscous molten rock, his stride actually leaving marks in the solidifying substance as he moved. But when he reached the edge of the crater-to-be, his eyebrows raised upon glimpsing an unexpected memento.

A four-toed footprint, with a familiar scent to it.

The Alpha Predator stared at the taloned track for a moment, letting his surprise linger. And then, very slowly, he took his left foot, reared it out of the last of the melted rock, and stepped in the footprint. He looked forward, seeing yet another track left behind by the mutated reptile. Rearing up his matching foot, he stepped in it too. Track by track, he followed in the departed creature’s footsteps, smirking ever so slightly as he allowed himself to dwell on all the possibilities that could open up from this day, about the potentials that could be brought forth in the future following his newfound respect for his irradiated doppelganger. If a threat ever showed its face to the planet in the not-too-distant future, he may not be its only hope of defense.

Godzilla smiled again as he dove beneath the waves, letting the soothing blanket of the water cool him down.

For the first time in 250 million years, more than one Alpha Predator drew breath on this earth.

*****

Showa Kinen Park

Her eyes had begun to water before she glimpsed them from afar, spotting them sitting on their favorite bench. Even from a distance, Yasuko could make out their shapes instantly; the little girl huddled against her mother’s side while the former’s arm wrapped around her like a blanket as they waited. For half a second, they remained that way–vigilant, tired, frightened, and waiting.

And then the next half of a second passed, and they moved in a way that told Yasuko they saw her.

There were times when one deemed it necessary to not show weakness in front of one’s family in times of terror and hardship, to remain strong so as to ease the family’s pain and fear, to make them feel at least a little better while something frightful loomed in their minds. But now was no such time for Yasuko–and she knew her family would hold no judgement to her for it. The woman’s face contorted into one of heartbroken relief and she elicited a half-gasp, half-sob as she took a brief second to cover her mouth with her hand, before her walk sped up as they got off the bench. Then her walk evolved into a jog, and soon the was full-blown sprinting at them as the first tears fell from her hazel eyes.

She closed the gap between her and her running daughter in less than ten seconds, nearly sliding as she dropped to her knees and clasped the weeping four-year old in her arms with a protective grip only a mother could deliver. As little Yukari Hashimoto tried to hug her just as hard, Yasuko stood up with her daughter in tow when she saw the second shape sprinting toward her at what seemed to be cheetah speeds. The most dazzling human being in the world, her partner for life, her soulmate, her other half; weeping silently as she dashed to meet her. Throwing one arm wide open, Yasuko only took a step forward as Chinatsu Hashimoto ran right into it with an ecstatically relieved cry. Sobbing, squeezing with all their strength, the three gently fell back to the grassy earth in a warm huddle.

And they stayed there for a while, bound together as one, under the golden-leaved tree.

*****

27 days later

The photographer sighed with content as he finally allowed himself to sit against a suitable tree, letting his legs turn to jelly as he relaxed from a long, exhausting, but truly worthwhile hike. The wind sang gently through the forests of Mt. Fuji, a light breeze nipping at the sides of his neck while the remaining leaves trembled their death throes before plucking from their branches, carried away by the wind.

The man clicked the directional buttons on his camera as he looked through the different shots he had taken through the course of the day, reviewing each and every aspect of every one, judging which ones were exactly fit to stay in his album and which ones he would have to re-take; and to his pleasant surprise, he detected no true error among his collection. As far as he could tell, each shot was primed and ready to be printed into physical form and added to his album when he got home. Every image possessed exactly the right color, mood, and style that he had individually intended; for now, he was free to rest his feet and enjoy the serenity of these sacred grounds personally. For these calm next few minutes, the camera could wait.

SNAP!

The photographer’s eyes jolted open, his once-soothed nerves snapping awake instantly when the sound of branches breaking entered his ears. Whatever had made that sound, it didn’t sound like any bird or macaque; no, it sounded like something big. Far too big to make the ground vibrate the way it did. Whatever had just broken those branches didn’t just make considerable noise–he could feel a sense of great strength shuddering from it. Perhaps it was a rather large branch, and it had finally fallen off its respective tree?

SNAP!

The crack echoed a second time, stronger than the first. More branches had broken, and whatever made that noise sounded as if it had gotten closer. The photographer climbed to his feet as quietly as he could make himself sound, not wanting to attract the attention of whatever was moving through the woods. He switched his camera on, wondering if he could snap a photograph of the unseen entity should it pass into open view.

SNAP!

With a final twisting and crashing of bark, the source of the noise stepped out from the trees and into the photographer’s field of view, not ten yards away. His heart nearly stopped at what he was seeing, his mind failing for a half-second to comprehend the being that had just emerged from the undergrowth to lumber before his very eyes. At first, his mind registered it as looking very human; tall and lanky with a round cranium and mouth full of similar teeth. But then the other details set in, putting it as anything but. The beast was at least twenty-five feet tall; It possessed blackish-purple skin, tiny yellow eyes and large canine teeth. A skeletal tail dragged behind it, and a single row of pointed plates of bone running down its spinal column. Plates shaped like maple leaves.

The photographer jutted his camera up, and acting as quickly as he possibly could, snapped three quick photos of the humanoid giant that walked before him.

Crossing the threshold of the path, the Godzilla-humanoid turned its eyeless head to look at the photographer, and for that brief moment the man stilled as he felt time freeze. This was it; this was the end. The ghastly creature had caught him in its sights, its little yellow eyes seemingly fixing him with its predatory gaze. He knew it saw him, and he was but an unarmed and defenseless prey animal. No weapons, no means of escape, no distractions. He was as good as dead.

And then the humanoid turned its head back forward as it continued to walk, time resuming its normal pace to the stunned photographer as the skeletal creature crossed the path and lumbered down the hill. Seemingly not having given a care in the world about the flabbergasted human being watching it.

And the creature vanished into the woods, as if it had never been there to begin with.

*****

Aurlandsfjord, Norway

When used as an offensive weapon, cold would normally hinder the mighty Godzilla. But as he waded through the shimmering mirror of a fjord under the overcast sky, chunks of ice occasionally bumping against his keloid-scarred hide, the God Incarnate paid it no mind. The cold here was just one of many comforting solaces that pacified Godzilla, informing him of the near lack of civilization in this particular stretch of land and water as he lumbered quietly, peacefully through the frigid fjord. The mountains around him quaked and trembled with every impact of his clawed feet meeting the cold depths of the water as he walked, but such vibrations could not be detected by the saurian mixotroph. To him, everything was peace and quiet. Birds chirping from the mountains, distant reindeer barking to one another in a language Godzilla didn’t know nor care to understand, the water waving and rippling with every movement of his massive hips. All exactly as he preferred it.

Godzilla roared, listening to his call bounce off the mountains as it echoed down the snow-laded gorge.

The unnatural deity stopped still as the inanimate mountains around him when a sound different from his own echo bounced lightly through the fjord, catching his ears. Godzilla’s natural radar detected something down the gorge, a presence not too far away, not even a mile behind the mountains. And if his radar didn’t confirm the existence of a lifeform, his sense of smell certainly did. A scent had drifted into his nasal passage, and his nose told him everything he needed to know. That scent didn’t belong to a being of artificial nature–everything about it screamed biological.

There was another animal in the vicinity.

Godzilla roared again, resuming his locomotion… … …and sure enough, the call wailed back.

The irradiated reptile didn’t know what he was going to find when he discovered the source of the wailing cry. He didn’t know if the unseen beast was friendly–or ferocious. Until first contact, he wouldn’t be able to differentiate friend from foe. So he walked, inching further and further down the fjord as he sensed the presence drawing ever closer; his instincts warily preparing him for the possibility of yet another conflict. Emitting rumbling infrasound, he practically stalked down the gorge as he prepared to meet whatever it was that lay ahead.

A splash of water acted as the prelude to a reptilian quadruped emerging from behind the mountain that covered the right turn of the river. A carapace of spikes adorned its back, with fierce eyes glowering fearlessly beneath a head topped by a crown of curved horns. A spiked tail swayed behind it, signifying its own caution. Opening his razor-toothed jaws, Anguirus honked at Godzilla. The God Incarnate was stunned to see yet another Titan; he was beginning to wonder whether or not the terrestrial world was full of them. It seemed that his evolution through the years into a creature as large as he was had allowed him to step into a larger world, the surface of which he had only just begun to scratch.

Godzilla hoped that what he was about to do would prove a benefit, and not a fatal mistake. Hope in of itself could be a fatal mistake–Godzilla had learned that the hard way. Hope could get you killed, so it was a concept never to be taken lightly when faced with circumstances in which survivability could be on the line. So, after a moment of hesitation, the mutated reptile decided.

Godzilla called to the spiked ankylosaur. A greeting. Thus, he waited.

And Godzilla hoped.

Winner: Godzilla (Reiwa)

K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles

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