Author: Connor Clennell | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

It was inevitable. It would have happened sooner or later, this conflict between legends. With reputations spanning half a century, it was impossible that, on such a small world, the two would never come into contact. And when they did, the very Earth would tremble in awe. A proud city would fall, millions of lives would be lost, and the rest of the world was left to question the future they strived for.

Dark smoke coated the skies, shielding the metropolis from the sun’s warmth and light. Towering structures crumbled into ruin, unable to withstand the destructive forces imbued upon them. Hundreds of streets were crowded with people seeking to escape death. As Tokyo burned, a titanic shape emerged from the gloom, bringing with it destruction and despair. A relic from the past, given new life from the arrogance of mankind. Charcoal-grey scales, toughed by decades of radioactive exposure, acted as armour for its rippling muscles. The rows of enlarged, white dorsal plates adorning its back clattered against each other with each step the titan took. A thick tail dragged behind it, occasionally whipping around and striking the buildings around it. Its general shape was like that of a dinosaur, one that the world had never known until its first appearance over sixty years ago. It was the first and last of its kind. Palaeontologists were quick to label the natural form of this creature as a Godzillasaurus. To the world, it was known by a much more familiar title.

Godzilla.

The atomic saurian let loose a howling, ominous cry. The sound travelled across the city, forcing millions to cover their ears in an attempt to not be deafened. Many fell to their knees, unable to continue running as Godzilla’s roar tore into their ear drums. They refused to stand, accepting their coming fates. Few stopped to help them. Yet amidst the surging crowds, one man stood, unafraid. He stared up at the approaching destroyer, awaiting the challenge that lay ahead. Normally, the self-defence forces would have been here by now, attempting to fight off Godzilla while the civilians escaped. But something was wrong. In its darkest hour, Tokyo’s defenders were absent. Not a single tank or maser trundled through the streets. The sky was devoid of jets and helicopters. Not a single warship or submarine occupied the waters of Tokyo Bay. The man wasn’t sure what could have caused the Japanese military to not defend its capital in its time of need. Even if there were other threats to contend with, they should have been able to send something. But alas, there was no support given. As far as it seemed, Tokyo had been abandoned to the chaos of Godzilla.

But there was still one last hope.

The man broke into a run, charging through the crowds. People called out to him as he raced towards the very thing they sought to escape, urging the man to turn back before it was too late. The man ignored their pleas. The crowd began to become thinner and thinner as he neared Godzilla. Soon, he was the only one standing in the middle of a crossroad. Blocks away, Godzilla’s shape towered over, ignorant to his presence. No human could stand against his infamous power. But Shin Hayata had not been a mortal man for many years. He reached into the pocket of his jacket, pulling forth a strange, silver, cylindrical object. He looked at the object, then back at Godzilla with uncertainty. For the first time in many years, he had doubt in his abilities. The stories of Godzilla’s feats and conquests were well known to those inside and outside the kaijutology community. A look of determination crossed his features as he pushed these thoughts aside. The lives of an entire city depended on him. Even if his strength was not enough, lives would be saved by his actions. At the end of every day, that was his goal. Hayata thrust the Beta Capsule into the air and pressed the button on its side.

Godzilla stopped in his tracks. His head tilted, sensing a disturbance in the air. Energy rippled through the air around him. The scale of this power made Godzilla wary. He scanned the area, seeking the source of the anomaly. Several meters away, a bright flash appeared in the city streets. As Godzilla’s gaze was diverted to it, the light began to grow. He watched, growling lowly as the light increased in size, morphing into a familiar shape. In just a few seconds, it had nearly matched Godzilla in size. The light faded, revealing to the atomic saurian the warrior beneath. Silver, armour-like skin coated its humanoid form. Patterns of red highlighted portions of its body. A pair of bulbous eyes, glowing with benignity, made contact with Godzilla’s savage orbs. On the being’s chest, a jewel-like object glowed a healthy blue. Godzilla reared back in alarm, taken aback by the new arrival. Its appearance triggered long forgotten memories of similar warriors. Godzilla recalled the encounters and conflicts he had shared with the two. But Jet Jaguar and Zone Fighter could not compare to Ultraman’s majesty.

The two stared off in the middle of a burning Tokyo. Godzilla’s hands flexed and his lip curled, exposing twin rows of teeth. Ultraman tightened his fists, gathering his power. Across the city, millions watched on in anticipation. Rumours and whispers had passed around since the two had first made their appearance. The legends of Ultraman and Godzilla extended past the limits of Earth and to the stars. No one would say it, but many had wondered, when Godzilla and Ultraman would finally meet in combat after fifty years of co-existence, who would emerge victorious from such a legendary bout.

The question asked for half a century would finally be answered.

Godzilla’s head turned to the sky, unleashing his infamous battle cry. Ultraman shifted into a fighting stance, letting out his own signature sound. Both broke into a sprint at the same time. City blocks shook as the two shattered the earth with each step. Buildings trembled as they ran past, seeking the other’s destruction. The two met in the middle of an intersection, Godzilla slamming his bulk into Ultraman as the latter drove his shoulder into the nuclear spawn’s chest. Shockwaves from the impact ravaged the area, sending buildings crashing into the streets. Tremors could be felt from halfway across the metropolis.

Godzilla and Ultraman stumbled backwards, taken aback by each other’s strength. Neither gave the other a chance to recover. Godzilla turned and swung his tail, missing Ultraman as he ducked low. As Godzilla spun to face him, Ultraman leapt forwards, delivering a chop to the titan’s neck. Godzilla stepped back, fighting to keep his balance. Ultraman capitalised on this by planting another chop on his chest. Growling in frustration, Godzilla swiped at the warrior, missing as Ultraman moved to the side. Godzilla’s mistake was punished by a strike to his right side. He snarled as he looked down on Ultraman. At first glance, Godzilla appeared to have the advantage in size and strength. But these two factors also worked against the king of monsters. His blows meant nothing if they could not find their target. Ultraman possessed the agility and speed to match his strength, expertly dodging and deflecting Godzilla’s slow, predictable strikes whilst delivering his own blows.

As the one-sided battle dragged on, Godzilla’s rage intensified. To his fortune, Ultraman slipped up, misjudging a strike meant to block the nuclear menace’s fist. It smashed into Ultraman’s head with the force of a bunker busting bomb. Ultraman shouted in pain as he shot back. Godzilla strode forward, giving Tokyo’s defender no time or room to prepare. His claws clamped onto Ultraman’s shoulders and he shoved his weight against the warrior, forcing him backwards. Grabbing hold of the saurian’s shoulders, Ultraman dug his heels into the street, pushing against Godzilla to halt the atomic titan’s advance. Wide trenches were carved into the tarmac and concrete as Godzilla continued to force Ultraman back. However, his pace began to slow, struggling to overcome Ultraman’s strength. Eventually, Godzilla was forced to submit to Ultraman’s intentions and came to a halt, unable to progress further. His frustrated roar boomed for miles. Bolts of nuclear energy coursed from his hands, zapping Ultraman’s hide. The warrior of light went rigid as the energy assaulted his shoulders and neck, relinquishing his grip on Godzilla’s left shoulder. Godzilla’s brow furrowed, unsatisfied with this result. His left arm moved to deliver the same shocking energy to Ultraman’s other arm. The warrior responded to his intentions by raising his free hand. Energy channelled into the limb, strengthening it. Then, with extreme strength and precision, he thrust it into Godzilla’s gut. Layers of flesh and internal organs gave way to the hero’s sharpened hand. Godzilla’s hands fell from Ultraman’s body as he screamed, lost in a world of agony.

Ultraman removed his hand from Godzilla’s abdomen, then thrust it in again with greater force than before. Regenerating tissue was forced to give way to his sharpened limb. Over and over his arm delved into the depths of Godzilla’s body, inflicting focused internal damage. Godzilla gritted his teeth, refusing to allow the pain to impede his actions. As Ultraman pulled his arm free for another strike, it was caught in Godzilla’s claws. The monster king’s gaze met Ultraman’s as the hero struggled to remove his arm from Godzilla’s grip. It was like trying to break the grasp of a python. Godzilla’s head shot down, jaws crunching Ultraman’s shoulder. The giant’s shout of pain pleased his ears. With Ultraman secured, he lifted him off the ground. Ultraman fought to break free, kicking and punching at the saurian, to no avail. With a flick of his head, Godzilla tossed the harbinger of peace aside. Ultraman crashed into a deserted street, rolling to a stop. A shroud of dust was kicked up, attempting to hide his form from Godzilla’s wrath.

Through the gloom, a bright blue glow caught Ultraman’s attention. The dust settled to allow him a glimpse at Godzilla’s illuminating dorsal spines. The atomic titan’s reptilian orbs were filled with hatred, which he spat at the alien warrior as a stream of concentrated thermonuclear fire. It closed the distance within milliseconds, warping the air surrounding it with heat. Ultraman’s advanced reflexes saved him from destruction, but not from Godzilla’s wrath. The beam caught his left shoulder as he leapt to the side, earning a loud yelp as he crashed to the ground, rolling on impact and landing on one knee. He groaned as he clutched his scorched shoulder, feeling the sizzling heat upon his palm. This was not the first thermonuclear weapon he had endured, but it was unquestionably the worst. The heat and force behind Godzilla’s primary attack was astounding. It reminded Ultraman of Ragon and Gabora’s radioactive rays, only far greater in power. He didn’t need to be told to avoid a direct hit at all costs.

Tremendous heat warped the air. Now familiar with the energy, Ultraman cast his gaze upon Godzilla’s flickering spines once more. There was little time to escape. Ultraman made full use of it, taking to the air as the second atomic beam was launched. It detonated on the spot where he stood previously, erupting into raging flames that consumed the entire block. The flames raced upwards, seeking to consume Ultraman in a fiery inferno. Flying at supersonic speeds, Ultraman easily escaped the flames. He hovered over the city, looking down at Godzilla and the destruction he had wrought. Godzilla averted his gaze to the airborne warrior, growling softly in frustration. Placing his hands horizontal to his Colour Timer, Ultraman gathered energy for his next attack. He threw his right hand forward, discharging a jagged disk of energy. The Ultra Slash carved into Godzilla’s torso, cutting and burning through flesh before dissipating. The irradiated saurian’s painful howl shattered windows for miles around. Onlookers brought their hands to their ears, deafened by the volume. Godzilla stumbled backwards in pain. Scorched flesh dangled from his chest. The putrid smell of his cooked body made him nauseous. The regenerative properties of his cells worked overtime to repair the damage.

Ultraman launched into Godzilla from above, knocking the distracted mutant to the earth. The force of the impact sent both skidding down city streets, leaving a trail of ruin in their wake. Pinning the atomic king beneath him, Ultraman smashed his fists across Godzilla’s head. Godzilla voiced his fury as he attempted to remove his attacker. This only increased the severity of Ultraman’s blows. Blood and teeth flew from the frenzy and stained the streets as the champion from M78 shattered Godzilla’s skull. Consciousness began to leave Godzilla’s body. His unbreakable will and savage fury barely kept him from slipping into the void. As they began to slow, Godzilla’s dorsal fins shone with nuclear power. Ultraman was not oblivious to this phenomenon. His hands wrapped around the saurian menace’s throat, preventing the discharge of his atomic beam. Godzilla writhed in his grip, unable to break free. As the two skidded to a stop, the nuclear titan’s scutes still pulsated with eerie blue energy. Ultraman’s gaze stopped on them, confused. From Godzilla’s nearly repaired chest, the same glow emanated from his wounds. Ultraman’s head snapped down at it in horror, realising the saurian king’s true intentions.

A wave of energy was released from Godzilla’s body. It tore Ultraman off and launched him across the city. Buildings crumpled from the destructive force. Smaller structures were annihilated in their entirely. Masses of people, thinking they were far enough from the conflict, were reduced to atoms as the shockwave washed over them. All this in a matter of seconds. Gravity captured Ultraman’s flying shape, dragging him to the ground. The earth trembled from the impact as several residential structures were flattered beneath the fallen hero.

In the aftermath of the nuclear pulse, Godzilla pulled himself onto trembling legs. Bone cracked and flesh pulsated as his skull began the regeneration process. Through blood-soaked vision, Godzilla located Ultraman’s form amidst a grey haze. Part of Godzilla’s mind hoped that the warrior would stay down. Another wanted Ultraman to rise and continue the fight. Like his monstrous subjects, Godzilla identified with others through combat. The motivation for battle is what separates friend from foe in the kingdom of monsters. From the beginning of the battle, Godzilla had sensed no animosity from the alien warrior. Only a strong desire to protect. Godzilla could relate with Ultraman’s noble cause. He too had fought to defend his family, extended and biological, from harm. The similarities to Zone Fighter and Jet Jaguar were unmistakable. But unlike them, Ultraman had done nothing to garner his respect and trust. To Godzilla, the warrior of light was the enemy, and would learn what happened to those that stood against the King.

Atomic fury flashed on Godzilla’s back. Ultraman dragged himself from the rubble, groaning with pain and dizziness. Godzilla’s brow furrowed, annoyed and pleased to see the giant still had life in him. Lingering internal energy from the nuclear pulse was gathered and added to Godzilla’s blossoming power. His dorsal plates shone brighter, crackling with enhanced power. Assuming a defensive stance, Ultraman prepared for the worst. From Godzilla’s opening maw, flashes of light emerged from his throat. A different kind of atomic beam was fired, composed of blue and purple and coated with a spiralling wave of energy. Melting the streets beneath it with its heat, the spiral atomic ray raced to ensure Ultraman’s destruction. It never succeeded in its goal. Ultraman extended his arms and traced a rectangle of light in the space before him. Between the glowing lines, a shimmering wall of energy materialised, catching Godzilla’s enhanced beam. The barrier doubled as a mirror, reflecting the spiral ray back at Godzilla. The atomic mutant’s eyes widened in surprise as his own ray crashed into his chest. A miniature nuclear explosion enveloped his torso, ripping away skin and meat in an instant. For the first time since the bomb, Godzilla’s body was raked with fourth-degree burns. Godzilla’s responding roar was mixed with a variety of emotions, of which pain was the loudest.

Through the dense smoke, immense energy rippled in the air. Godzilla recognised the power instantly. Far opposite the atomic dragon, Ultraman aligned his arms to form a cross. Vast internal energies were diverted to his vertical hand, launching from the side as a powerful stream. Molecules of energised Specium moved through the air at incalculable speeds, appearing to the naked eye as numerous lines. The energy attack lanced into Godzilla’s damaged sternum, forcing his body to absorb its energies. Destructive power flooded his cells, resulting in mass combustion of organic matter. An explosion of fire and gore removed Godzilla’s upper half from view, but his painful shrieks proved the titan still lived. Ultraman lowered his hands, surprised that the saurian had survived the attack. For most monsters, a single shot would have ensured their destruction. But tougher foes had proven resilient to Specium energy in the past. The monster king’s tough exterior was irrepressible, but not impregnable. He had been weakened by the blast. If he wore him down further, Ultraman may have a chance at besting the scourge of humanity. As the smoke cleared, Ultraman’s hopes died swiftly. Godzilla’s torso was nearly devoid of flesh. Ribs and organs could be seen through exposed areas. The nuclear titan’s breaths were wheezing and ragged as his damaged lungs attempted to draw air. Despite the suffering, Godzilla refused to fall. Even now, his body was regenerating at an astounding rate. In a few minutes, his strength would be fully restored. Ultraman did not share this advantage. His time in battle was limited, requiring expert control of his finite reserves. To triumph over the irradiated dinosaur, he would require more power than he currently possessed. He cast his gaze to the ruined streets. Humanoid shadows stained the pavements. Thousands of corpses remained lost under rubble. Ultraman could feel the life forces of people fade all around him. Countless lives had already been lost as a result of their clash.

Instinctively, Ultraman knew that many more would lose their lives today.

Rejuvenating charcoal scales sealed the gaping wounds in the dinosaur’s chest. Deeming the repairs sufficient, Godzilla fired his nuclear beam. With only a second to react, Ultraman jumped high into the air as the streets were consumed in a sea of flames. Ultraman leapt over the towering monolith of flesh, driving his heel into the radioactive destroyer’s head. Godzilla growled as he was forced to look at the streets below. Fierce flames reflected off his reptilian eyes. The stretch of city resembled a scene from the apocalypse. He cared for none of it. Ultraman kicked off the leviathan’s head and landed behind him. As he turned to face Godzilla, the saurian’s thick, muscular tail whipped out. It swung into his side, creating an audible sound as it cracked ribs. The warrior was pushed across the pavement as he yelped, ripping up concrete and tarmac as he gripped Godzilla’s wormy appendage. At last, Ultraman gained control of the situation. He began to rotate, dragging Godzilla across in surprise. The hero spun faster, rapidly increasing momentum. Ultraman shocked Godzilla and the world by lifting the monster king off the ground and tossing him across the city. A skyscraper caught Godzilla’s falling shape, embracing him in a tomb of granite and steel. Through the cloud of dust kicked up by the impact, flashes of blue appeared. Godzilla burst off of the rubble, eyes burning with atomic rage as he bellowed. Atomic fire blazed out of his maw. In quick retaliation, Ultraman joined his wrists, channelling energy to fire the Specium Ray.

The two sets of energies collided in a flash of intense light. People too slow to avert their gaze were permanently blinded. Unfortunate civilians foolishly close to the action felt their eyeballs burn in their sockets. Infuriated by Ultraman’s resistance, Godzilla funnelled more power into his stream. Ultraman continued to fire, fuelling its growing power with what energy he could spare. The sphere of light moved back and forth between the clashing powers, unable to be overcome by either attack. The energy fed into the orb eventually became too much, and it exploded. Powerful shockwaves annihilated city blocks, leaving a scar on the capital of Japan. Both titans remained standing in the face of the tremendous force, unable to be bested by its power. The light from the explosion was a different matter. Its blinding glare filled Godzilla and Ultraman’s vision. Evolution had granted Godzilla eyelids to save himself from blindness. Ultraman was not so fortunate. His bulbous eyes absorbed the light, temporarily robbing him of the ability to see. His hands sought his face, protecting his sensitive eyes as he groaned in agony. The earth shook as Godzilla charged, seizing the opportunity. Like a raging bull, his forehead crashed into Ultraman’s chest, launching the alien defender across the district. The pavement caved as Ultraman slammed into the earth, the imprint of his figure now forever embedded in that street. The Colour Timer’s healthy blue glow was replaced with a blinking red light, as a warning chime alerted the giant to his decreasing energy. Time no longer favoured the warrior’s mission of justice.

The ground shuddered as Ultraman moved to stand. Godzilla’s chaotic roar echoed as he kicked Tokyo’s saviour down the street. He followed after, polluting the air with his radioactive essence. Godzilla turned with an elegance unfitting of his form and slammed his tail into the recovering Ultraman’s back, knocking him to the floor. Ultraman struggled to rise, only for another spine shuddering blow to hammer him into the ground. A third blow would surely snap his back in two. Before the strike could connect, Ultraman rolled to the side, allowing Godzilla’s tail to pound the pavement. He pulled himself to his feet, but Godzilla’s reptilian appendage was not finished with the hero. It swung up at an angle, slapping Ultraman across the head. Losing his balance, Ultraman stumbled into the side of a skyscraper. Godzilla whipped around to face him. His clawed hand slashed across the giant’s chest, drawing violent sparks. Ultraman retreated from the pain, allowing Godzilla’s fist to plough into his face. The warrior smashed into the earth, burying his form in the street. Ultraman frantically struggled to free himself as Godzilla’s massive heel came down, pressing him further under the street. Ultraman cried out as bones cracked under the pressure of the monster’s weight. Lifting his foot, Godzilla prepared to repeat the process. Ultraman could only watch on, forming his own tactic. The champion’s strength was not limited to his body. Concentrating his psychic powers, Ultraman disappeared in a cloud of particles as Godzilla’s foot shattered the road beneath.

The nuclear mutation reared back in confusion, scanning the streets for the warrior. A burst of Specium energy struck his unprotected back, destroying tissue and spinal nerves alike in a violent explosion. The painful shrieks of an injured giant flooded the air as sixty thousand tons of saurian flesh and bone collapsed, unable to communicate with his lower half. A distance away, Ultraman lowered his hands, dropping onto a knee and panting in exhaustion. The teleportation technique was a severe drain on his reserves. Coupled with excessive use of the Specium Ray, his power was dangerously low. The pitch and speed of the Colour Timer’s ringing increased, warning Ultraman that his time was up. Ultraman ignored it, too focused on Godzilla’s rising shape. New nerves grew before his eyes before vanishing in an embrace of flesh. Godzilla’s constant cries informed the hero of the excruciating process. In no time at all, the creature would be ready for combat once more. Ultraman cursed his limitations, wishing he should stay and finish off the icon of destruction. The only death that would occur if he did not recharge would be his own.

With his spinal column still exposed, Godzilla rose to face the weakened warrior. Radioactive might surged on his dorsal plates, eager for release. Gathering what energy he could spare, Ultraman tossed a shimmering buzzsaw into the monster king’s skull. Scalded flesh dangled over Godzilla’s eyes, working with the intense pain to distract the saurian. Taking the opportunity, Ultraman ascended into the skies, rushing to reach the stratosphere. Regenerative properties allowed Godzilla to overcome Ultraman’s distraction and cast his gaze upwards. An atomic ray fired, refusing to allow the champion to escape. The power of the thermonuclear weapon diminished as he travelled farther and farther from its projector. By the time it caught up to the fleeing hero, most of its kinetic force and heat had been lost. It struck Ultraman with a fraction of its true power, delaying him for only a second. Dark smoke shielded him from Godzilla’s prying eyes as he vanished into the clouds. Godzilla roared in anger, commanding the wielder of light to face him.

Booming thunder and howling winds sounded as Ultraman ascended through the dark clouds. Bolts of lightning zapped his shimmering form, useless in deterring the warrior’s flight. At last, the clouds gave way to an empty void, peppered with specks of light. The vastness of space greeted the interstellar defender as he left the comfort of Earth’s atmosphere. Raw solar energy engulfed Ultraman’s form, recharging his celestial power. With this time, Ultraman observed the blue planet below him. This was not the first time that he had seen the Earth like this, but the beauty of the sight still remained to this day. Many religions believed in a higher power, watching over the planet and its people with love and compassion. Despite the power he wielded, Ultraman was no god. He has been born with the power of light, but the warning light on his chest was a constant reminder of his mortality and the goal of peace that his kind strived for.

Ultraman and his kin had been watching Earth for more than fifty years. In that time, they had seen, fought, rescued and destroyed a whole array of monsters, demons, aliens and automatons. Yet out of all of them, Godzilla was an enigma they could not solve. It was after his service that Ultraman had learned of the monster king and his origins. The genetic urge for man to wage war was something that Ultraman feared would ultimately destroy them, and Godzilla was the closest thing to personifying those fears. Yet despite his destructive nature, the child of atomic warfare had been responsible for protecting the world on numerous occasions, only to threaten it once again. The titan’s uncertain allegiance was something that had captured Ultraman’s attention. It was not something that could be explained by animalistic intelligence, yet Godzilla had never demonstrated anything close to an intellect like that of King Kong or Gamera. His supreme commander, Father of Ultra, had once described Godzilla as a force of utter chaos. But chaos did not form alliances or father offspring.

The blinking light on Ultraman’s chest returned to a solid blue. With his energy restored, Ultraman started re-entry, accelerating through the atmosphere at incredible speeds. Far below him waited an entity that Ultraman could not accurately describe. Out of all of Earth’s protectors, Godzilla was the most complex. Even as he laid waste to the city below, the silver giant knew that he would eventually return to protect the people he sought to destroy. If Godzilla saw Ultraman as unworthy, then he saw Godzilla as untrustworthy. He needed evidence that he could rely on the king of monsters to defend the planet in his absence. So far, he had nothing.

Tokyo continued to burn. Pillars of black smog choked the sky, shrouding the desolate landscape in darkness. Emergency services used this brief pause in the clash of titans to rescue as many as they could from the wreckage, rarely finding people that had not been majorly harmed by the conflict. At the city’s epicentre, Godzilla stood motionless, his gaze cast to the far heavens. The ancient goliath knew that there was no point in continuing his rampage. Something in his mutated genetics told him that he would not have to wait long for the giant of light’s return. Godzilla knew he would return for the humans; that strange, indescribable species that had managed to capture the hearts of his previous humanoid allies.

For the longest time, Godzilla had no care for the human race. They were a nuisance at best, tiny insects that attempted to match his might time and time again, and their distaste for him and his kin had almost lost any chance of ending this unwinnable war. Despite their hate towards him, though, Godzilla had been responsible for saving their tiny civilisation time after time. Even with their hate for one another, there was enough honour between Godzilla and Man for the two to make truces when peace was needed. Behind humanity’s anger and loathing was a kindness that Godzilla had never understood and never could. So long as the king of kaiju lived, humans and monsters would live in fear of each other. But when the opportunity came to end the war of the monsters, the humans showed their appreciation for his efforts at the worst possible time, and saved his life when he was prepared to give it away. He lost what he cared for, because humanity chose to be kind for once in their cruel existence. This was why Godzilla now despised humans. It was why, despite the respect he secretly held for Ultraman, he hated the warrior that the citizens of Japan held love for in their hearts.

In the far distance, a speck of light glimmered. Godzilla’s binocular vision caught onto the approaching air-bound figure and his lips curled into a snarl. High above the waters of the Pacific, Ultraman shot through the turbulent skies at supersonic speeds, leaving a trail of disturbed clouds in his wake. He looked upon the city of Tokyo in the distance, preparing his newly-restored energy for his upcoming rematch. There was a sudden flash of light, bright and brief, between the towering structures of man. Seconds later, Ultraman sighted the azure wave of scorching nuclear death. With supreme reflexes, Ultraman maneuvered his course to avoid the atomic beam in the short pocket of time he had. The blast shot past, lighting up his reflective form with its bright radiance as Ultraman twisted around the cone of destruction. The attack had nearly taken the veteran warrior off-guard. He was still several miles from the metropolis’ shore, yet Godzilla had deemed the distance short enough to launch a premature and highly accurate assault, providing more evidence for Ultraman’s internal thesis on the dinosaurian giant’s intelligence.

Now aware of the attack, Ultraman’s excellent vision homed in on his reptilian nemesis’ location. The luminous glow of the atomic dinosaur’s dorsal fins filled his sight, alerting the guardian to his next action. Ultraman swiftly decelerated, coming to a stop and hovering over the Sea of Japan. With his arms and legs still extended, he started to spin rapidly, flipping heels over head as streams of energy trailed from his hands and feet. As his movements became a blur, a shell of crimson power formed around the hero, materialising into his protective travel sphere. Now with protection against Godzilla’s thermonuclear might, Ultraman raced down to the capital in crisis as the second atomic ray launched. It struck the surface of the accelerating orb, but failed to inflict any damage, rolling across the sphere like waves of water. Scowling but undeterred, Godzilla spewed out another stream of atomic power, once again unable to damage or halt the travel sphere, his condensed atomic flames washing across its surface with no effect. With its course unaltered, Ultraman’s vessel rocketed towards the approaching city streets, surprising Godzilla with his incredible speeds that could match the velocity of Rodan, and seconds away from colliding with the king of kaiju. With no chance of halting or avoiding the orb’s course, Godzilla steadied himself for contact.

The travel sphere collided with the atomic monster’s bulk, driving the air from his lungs and cracking ribs. The winded Godzilla drove his clawed feet into the concrete, refusing to yield to Ultraman’s force. Ultraman continued to push against the saurian, prevented from toppling the kaiju king by his impressive strength. Instead, Godzilla was pushed back through the streets, his colossal heels carving trenches into the tarmac and stone as Ultraman’s sphere forced him back into the depths of Tokyo. Rows of small businesses, residences and industrial warehouses were demolished without any impact on the two rivals’ path. Eventually, a larger structure looked to halt the duo’s battle. Godzilla’s heavy tonnage slammed into the skyscraper, ignoring the obstacle as he was forced inside. Concrete shattered, glass cracked and steel beams snapped as the monster of monsters came through the tower against his will and continued on, clawing away uselessly at the crimson shell. Snarling in aggravation, Godzilla grasped onto the orb as best as he could. Blue power surged through his spines, collecting power in his throat. As the gathered atomic fire was ready to be released, he swallowed it back down, directing the supercharged energies out of each inch of his body. The travel sphere was blown back by the nuclear pulse, spinning out of control as waves of kinetic and atomic force ravaged it. The orb burst apart, fading wisps of crimson energy waving through the air as Ultraman spun out of his control, plummeting to the ground not far below. The hero’s controlless period was forgivingly short, and Ultraman prevented a harsh landing by planting his palms against the street, flipping backwards to land upright without hazardous delay.

Seconds passed as Ultraman and Godzilla stared down the other, assessing their next actions. Both knew that they could not underestimated their rival for even a second. Godzilla’s claws twitched impatiently as he considered what he knew about the warrior of light. Like Zone Fighter, the denizen of Nebula M78 was a formidable opponent, possessing strength near equal to his own and speed and agility to match it. However, Ultraman shared the same weakness as the Peacelandian warrior. Godzilla’s gaze drifted to the guardian’s glowing Colour Timer. Although Ultraman was powerful, he did not have a long period to harness that power. An average of three minutes was the longest he could spar in Earth’s conditions. It had taken almost that exact time to severely harm the monster king. In the first clash, Godzilla was unprepared, still understanding the warrior’s abilities and motivations. Now he had information to work on. A weakness to exploit. Ultraman was in the same situation. But while he had first-hand knowledge of Godzilla’s powers, his vulnerabilities were a different matter. Unlike himself, Godzilla possessed no inherent weaknesses to exploit. Humanity has found something akin to what Ultraman required: a secondary brain located near the saurian’s hips that controlled the functions of his lower body. While that factor had been exploited once, Godzilla had evolved and adapted since then. The chances of paralysing the nuclear menace the same way twice was slim. Ultraman would have to wait and see if further conflict revealed another exploitable trait. For now, he would have to try and take out the kaiju king through his sheer power.

His hands tapped his chest once more, drawing the almost divine power of his inner light to his hand. Recognising the technique instantly, Godzilla’s atomic lust flared. With a toss of his hand, another churning Ultra Slash was launched at Godzilla’s reptilian visage. Halfway across the distance, the atomic ray slammed into the spinning buzzsaw. Sparks of nuclear fire spitted across the neighbouring structures as the beam fought to overcome Ultraman’s deadly construct, but the Ultra Slash managed to hold out, keeping Godzilla’s stream of death at bay. As the searing energies chipped away, the disc began to slowly crack. Godzilla’s ray eventually overcame the spinning cutter as it shattered, consuming its remains as it lashed towards the unguarded Ultraman. The noble warrior raised his arms in a cross, taking the full force of the atomic ray through them, and was pushed back, yelping loudly as the harsh heat penetrated his thick hide. As he tore through the roads, he focused his strength through his arms, imbuing his limbs with his psychokinetic power. Exerting his might, Ultraman swung outwards, ripping apart the nuclear beam instantly. Atomic fireballs rained down around and upon the buildings of Tokyo, erupting into towering columns of flame as Godzilla stepped away, awestruck. Against a wall of fire, Ultraman stood tall and triumphant, casting an imposing image onto the dinosaurian giant’s gaze. Godzilla drank in the sight, considering if, for the first time in years, he had poorly accessed his opponent.

For Ultraman, time was of the essence. He sprinted towards the stunned Godzilla, taking advantage of every second the reptilian titan gave him. Godzilla snapped from his stupor, plates flickering and azure power firing at his humanoid adversary. With quick motions and quicker reflexes, Ultraman generated a fourth cutting disk. He held it out before him as he ran, aligning the flat edge of the saw with the incoming nuclear surge. It exploded against the makeshift shield, launching streams of sapphire heat to the sides of Ultraman. Trails of ravaging flame sparked up as the M78 veteran charged on, pushing back Godzilla’s continuous stream. No matter the strength put into his primary weapon, the irradiated reptile could do nothing to stop Ultraman from advancing. As the distance between Earth’s champions closed to metres, he shut off the atomic ray, preparing for close-quarters combat.

It was a mistake.

Ultraman’s agile reflexes allowed him to lash out before Godzilla’s claws could touch him. Aligning the side of the saw construct against his palm, he swung down through the dinosaur’s chest. The thunderous howls of pain from the king of titans choked the air as the whirling disk tore through organs and bones with minimal resistance. Blood sprayed from the gaping gash, increasing the crimson portions of Ultraman’s figure. He swung again, carving another laceration into Godzilla’s impenetrable scales. Harvesting as much focus he could muster, Godzilla lashed out. Claws hardened and sharpened by decades of combat lunged at thin air, unable to land on Ultraman’s vulnerable shape. Weaving between the monster king’s swiping limbs, Ultraman slashed and stabbed at the leviathan’s vulnerable chest and belly, carving his form up at a rate exceeding his regeneration factor. But despite the bleeding tears that now formed the saurian giant’s front, Godzilla refused to fall or falter. Ultraman reassigned the target of his assault, swinging his jagged disk at the reptile’s throat.

Godzilla’s jaws snapped down at the oncoming saw, catching the weapon in his dagger-lined grip. Pulling back, he ripped the Ultra Slash from Ultraman’s telekinetic grip. Wild sparks leapt from the sides of Godzilla’s maw as the cutter continued to spin, grinding away at the saurian’s fangs. With a resounding crack, Godzilla’s jaws snapped shut, crushing the disk into glowing fragments. His claws lashed out and wrapped around Ultraman’s throat, hauling the giant from the ground. Fierce orange eyes glared into glowing domes with growing contempt and fury before Ultraman was struck by the reptilian’s other fist, launching him from the titan’s grip. Crashing to the asphalt, a spray of debris and ash covered all but the bright luminance of his eyes and timer from view. As he dragged himself up, Godzilla’s leg swung through the cloud, colliding with Ultraman’s chest to floor the great warrior once more. Godzilla’s amazing bulk pushed through the airborne particles, ash and dust rolling across his form in waves as his foot lashed out again, striking and sending Ultraman rolling with a cry.

Pain surged through Ultraman’s limbs, affecting the warrior’s ability to recover quickly. As he reached his feet, Godzilla was on him, lashing out with clawed hands imbued with atomic energy. On instinct, Ultraman leapt back to avoid the swinging talons, awkwardly landing back on the earth. Godzilla pushed on his advance, striking out and driving the champion of light back before he could recover his balance. Eventually, the saurian’s augmented claws found their mark as Ultraman dodged at the wrong moment, slashing across the titan’s breast with a shower of sparks. Ultraman fell back, but he arched his body at the last second, planting his hands against the earth and flipping his body upwards. His feet slammed into the base of Godzilla’s jaw, causing the behemoth’s head to snap up with a shriek. As he stood upright once more, Ultraman adopted his fighting stance.

The M78 being’s senses warned him of danger. Ultraman’s golden eyes kept watch of Godzilla, trying to determine the unseen danger. Then he heard it; the muffled sounds of fear and distress. It was not him who was in danger. Ultraman’s torso spun around so he could see the building filled with trapped civilians, scrambling to remove the rubble blocking their escape and banging on the glass as they called out for the giant of justice to save them. But Ultraman did not have the time. He silently cursed himself for allowing the battle to get out of hand. If he moved now, these people would die, and he would never allow that to happen. As he faced Godzilla, his fists clenched as he sought a way to continue the fight without spilling more innocent blood.

Godzilla stepped closer, atomic light engulfing his clattering spines as he locked onto his adversary. Ultraman swiftly brought up his arms and placed his right hand atop the edge of the other. The Slash Ray shot forth, blasting Godzilla’s visage with golden, pointed bolts of energy. Smoke obscured the dinosaur’s head as he flailed in pain and roared in anger. Immediately, Ultraman took to the air, flying above the towering buildings and floated over his reptilian rival. Orange, cat-like eyes glared at the warrior, his skin shining in the few rays of sunlight that could penetrate the dark smog over Tokyo. Atomic fire blasted from the destroyer’s maw, targeting Ultraman as the airborne hero accelerated away. He soared over the city, keeping within Godzilla’s deadly range as blue lances of rage were spat towards him. It seemed suicidal, but Ultraman was willing to take the risks to his life to protect the metropolis’ people from the leviathan’s power. His incredible aerial speeds outclassed Godzilla’s swift reactions, preventing his fiery beams from landing their mark as the champion formulated.

There was no way to face Godzilla hand-to-hand. The titan’s strength was too much for Ultraman to challenge directly with his time limit. His energy attacks were his best option, but Godzilla’s atomic power could counter most of what he could throw at him. As he continued to circle, Ultraman struggled to come up with a solution, but the answer never seemed to materialise in his mind…

It dawned on the giant of light on what he must do. He instantly turned, ducking under another atomic blast as he rocketed towards Godzilla. The titan screeched in alarm as the warrior closed the distance, energising every fibre of his body to strengthen it as he rammed into Godzilla’s skull. Tons of decades-toughened scales and muscle crashed down as Ultraman impacted, shaking buildings apart in the process. Blood drained from his gashed forehead and pooled around his head as his vision blurred. Ultraman, too, hit the ground, feet carving through the asphalt before coming to a stop. As he turned, Godzilla pushed his bruised bulk up. A fading scar and fresh smears of blood were the only signs of his previous injury as he stood tall and snarled at the warrior. The effects of the cranial impact still lingered, yet the reptile king started his charge, picking up speed despite his skewed balance. Ultraman simply raised his arms, bringing them before his chest in an “X”. Uncertain of his intentions, Godzilla’s nuclear might flared in preparation for use.

Ultraman’s fists clenched, but nothing seemed to happen. But with Godzilla’s next step, the titan suddenly stumbled as his foot failed to touch the floor. He lurched forwards, starting to fall, but stopped before he could. To Godzilla’s surprise, he was held upright. Surprise turned to confusion as he began to ascend, caught in an invisible force. The monster king cried out in rage as he tried to fight against whatever had him in its grasp, but his efforts were futile. Below, Ultraman’s gaze followed the immobilised saurian as he lifted him higher and higher through his psychokinesis. Godzilla may be able to match him in physical power and energy manipulation, but mental manipulation was an ability far beyond the evolutionary scope of the nuclear menace. Once the saurian had reached the desired altitude, Ultraman extended his arms towards his distant shape. Lasers shot forth from his middle fingers before he moved his arms once more to align them with Godzilla’s head and groin.

A sharp tingling sensation overcame Godzilla as the lasers created a crackling barrier across the surface of his form. He thrashed around to try and halt its formation, to no avail. As he began to gather energy for a nuclear pulse, the dinosaurian titan froze. Godzilla’s eyes looked in every direction as the feeling suddenly disappeared from his body, leaving him paralysed miles above Tokyo. With the menace contained, Ultraman unleashed his assault without restraint. Glowing buzzsaws flew from his hands one after the other, locking onto and slashing the motionless titan, spilling floods of his radioactive blood onto the districts far below. Intense agony surged through every part of Godzilla’s form, but the king of titans couldn’t even scream or twitch in his current state. Though his regenerative abilities were impressive, his body was not able to keep up with the rapid damage and loss of blood. As he continued to be torn apart, his vision began to blur and fade from the immense loss of bodily fluids, his life slowly slipping away. For the first time, Godzilla acted out of desperation, his fading consciousness trying to cling on. Despite his efforts, his vision slipped into darkness, his mind fading away as his heart beat slower and slower…

Somewhere in the city, an infant’s cries rang out. Godzilla’s eyes snapped open as his sensitive ears picked up the sound. In the recesses of his consciousness, a primeval instinct was reawakened by the noise. An irresistible instinct to protect and nurture offspring.

An instinct Godzilla had failed.

Anguish and rage overcame the bloodied king as the memories came forth of a situation similar to now, where Godzilla was weakened and helpless against a foe superior to him. Because of his impotence, a life dear to him was lost, unable to be replaced by the human’s actions. It was this event that taught Godzilla to never again be weak. To never submit to any other despite the great odds against him. To never allow this event to repeat itself.

Burning emotions fuelled the nuclear giant’s atomic lust, the excess energy crackling across his scutes as they glowed bright and hot. The great power of his atomic energy forced his jaws open, spewing the spiral atomic ray at an unguarded Ultraman. The blast slammed into the interstellar warrior, detonating against his shining form with force greater than the bombs that had created Godzilla. Booming explosions drowned out Ultraman’s cries as he was thrown back, bouncing along the burning cityscape and rolling to a stop. With his concentration broken, the psychic prison restraining Godzilla flickered away, allowing gravity to re-establish its grip on the monster king and pull him to the ground. A featureless office building was the only cushion for the titan’s landing, crumbling like ash as Godzilla crashed down atop the structure feet-first. His soles smashed into the pavement with a loud and sharp crack, gaining a roar filled with agony from the reptile before he toppled over.

A creature with Godzilla’s stature could never land on its feet from such a height without consequences. The ruler of the atomic age gathered his wits and pulled himself onto his feet. With his body weight channelled on both legs, Godzilla hissed as his right knee pulsed with pain. The landing had basically fractured the patella into pieces, sharpened fragments of the bone jutting from the flesh. A complex injury like this could not be quickly repaired even with Godzilla’s outstanding healing factor. Regardless of the injury, Godzilla hobbled on, set on ending this conflict.

There were few times in Godzilla’s life when he had come so close to embracing death. The atomic dinosaur had always assumed he would be invincible, but the few and far moments where that façade was shattered… terrified him. The concept that there was something greater than him, something that could remove from his position at the top of the food chain brought genuine fear to Godzilla’s soul. In the past, he had used that fear to motivate him in his battles, to keep him from submitting and giving up. To keep on fighting for what he cared for. But now, with nothing for him to protect, how would this fear influence the king of monsters?

Groggily, Ultraman made it to his feet. His head rang and his vision was blurred, but with lives still needing his aid, he could not afford to rest. Not far away, the wounded Godzilla limped towards him on a broken knee. It honestly surprised him how tenacious the atomic menace was. Other kaiju in the past had the common sense to abandon their fight against him when the odds did not favour them, yet Godzilla was dead set on continuing. Why? Was it pride? Sheer malice? Just determination to see this fight finished? Perhaps he would never know, but this battle had to be stopped before further escalation. A churning blade of light was hurled at the mutilated Godzilla, cutting into the side of his throat and only barely penetrating the toughened flesh. The irradiated titan flinched, gritting his fangs as blood drizzled from the wound, before opening his maw and spitting another empowered atomic blast. Rolling to the side, Ultraman avoided the deadly stream as it detonated against buildings in the distance, transforming them into a raging fireball. In the process of dodging, Ultraman caught sight of an interesting detail. As Godzilla fired, flickers of energy sparked from the gash in his neck, seeming to cause the dinosaurian giant pain in the process. If that wound could be worsened, it could perhaps turn the monster king’s own weapon against him.

As his feet touched the ground and the atomic beam died away, the gleaming warrior sprinted towards Godzilla. Another Ultra Slash materialised in his palm, spinning rapidly but not released. Godzilla had already turned to face his charging rival, his eyes locked onto their form as his deadly power rose. The atomic light shining from his throat began to lessen as the wound began to seal shut, which Ultraman could not allow. As the next atomic ray fired, he narrowly managed to duck under the blast while keeping his momentum. As he dove past Godzilla, the hand holding his Ultra Slash lashed at the nuclear reptile, carving into the closing injury and tearing it open. Blazing blue energies burst from the wound, spitting onto Ultraman and coursing pain through Godzilla’s body. Flipping himself upright, Ultraman hurled his bloodied disc at the fiend’s wound, carving it open further and allowing more energy to be directed and spewed out of this new exit point. Intense agony consumed the monster king, only ceasing when the atomic ray stopped firing.

As the sapphire flames decreased, the wound started to seal shut once more. Burning with anger, Godzilla limped around to face Ultraman. His scutes illuminated, knowing that the wound would have healed enough by the time he could fire. Ultraman was out of time, but knew he had to stop that injury from healing if he were to put a stop to this. His hands crossed, firing the Specium Ray at Godzilla’s throat. As the king’s maw opened, the beam struck, bursting into a cloud of flame and gore and splitting open the flesh as the spiral atomic ray fired.

Godzilla screamed as his deathly ray exploded from the hole in his neck, shooting harmlessly into the sky as the extreme heat and force further tore apart the radioactive titan’s throat. Panic and fear overwhelmed his primordial instincts, fuelling his energy stores and keeping the beam firing. Fire-hot agony engulfed every fibre of his body. All other thoughts were replaced with the desire to stop this hellish pain as it consumed the king of monsters, sending him crashing to the ground spines first as his meaty thighs burned with torment. His ivory-white scutes disappeared into the earth, hammered in by the prehistoric giant’s titanic weight and pinning him down as the nuclear energies mercifully died down.

The scaled fighter’s relief was short-lived. Bursts of bluish-white energy exploded against his body, aggravating unhealed wounds and opening up new ones. From crossed hands, Ultraman fired shot after shot of his Specium Ray, taking advantage of Godzilla’s position and mental state. Bursts of fire, sparks and blood erupted from wherever the beams struck, taking the monster of monsters apart piece by piece. The scent of burning meat filled Godzilla’s nostrils, but the leviathan could not even gag while he screeched through the blood filling his throat. Although his vocal cords were not in any state to produce sound, for the first time in his history, Godzilla gurgled out a cry for mercy.

Ultraman continued to fire, his bulbous eyes unable to betray whatever feelings he held at this moment. Godzilla’s body was hidden by eruptions of smoke and fire, but the titan’s pitiful cries confirmed that his work was not done. He kept on firing.

And firing.

And firing.

And firing.

At last, the barrage ceased. The city was almost quiet, silence only prevented by the crackling of flames and the wheezing breaths of Godzilla. Ultraman marched closer, unsure to anticipate as the smog covered his enemy flowed away.

Godzilla was a shell of his former self. Exposed tissues and blooded bone were visible over every part of his form. His lungs struggled to bring air to his bloodstream in their fragile state through his torn throat, and his closed eyelids signalled his departure from consciousness. It was so strange to see such a powerful and respected creature like him, reduced to this ravaged state. For Ultraman, it was the only chance to put an end to the world’s greatest menace. His hand raised towards the sky with a flash in his palm, transforming into an Ultra Slash. The champion of justice held his weapon high, preparing to bring it down on the nuclear menace’s neck. To end this cycle of destruction. To put an end to Earth’s greatest nightmare once and for all.

So why did he hesitate?

In his heart, Ultraman already knew the answer. King Ghidorah. Hedorah. Mechagodzilla. SpaceGodzilla. Destoroyah. Orga. Monster X. Ultraman was familiar with the threats that had plagued the Earth in his absence, and centuries of wisdom had given him the foresight to know that against creatures of such calibre, he would not have stood a chance. Earth had had many protectors outside of the Space Garrison’s members, and Godzilla was still one of the most complex. Through his entire history, he had gone back and forth between destroyer and defender, never sticking to one allegiance. But perhaps he had never strayed from his original goal in the first place. Godzilla was a by-product of war, but underneath those decades of agony and rage was the mind and body of a prehistoric animal, compelled by genetic urges to protect what belonged to it.

Millions of years ago, Godzilla ruled the lands of Japan. When he was reborn in the twentieth century, his territory expanded to the entire planet. And ever since, he had continued to defend what belonged to him, which included humanity by extension. Yes, Godzilla was far from a benevolent ruler, but somewhere inside him was a spark of compassion that had led the king of monsters to actively protect mankind despites their attempts to destroy him. There was a conscience inside the nuclear menace, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century, that benevolent spark had faded as Godzilla cut all ties to humanity and retreated among his monster ilk. No one was sure of the reasons why he had abandoned them, but Ultraman, whose memory was longer than that of any human, could recall one event that would have destroyed Godzilla’s ties with Man…

Regardless of his allegiance, Godzilla was a requirement for the continued survival of the planet. Even if he and humanity remained enemies, the Earth, his territory, would continue to be under his protection. Yet after witnessing his might and anger first-hand, Ultraman was uncertain if he could allow Godzilla to live on. If he ended his life here, millions of lives would be avenged and countless more saved. But could the planet survive with the absence of the king of the monsters? For Ultraman, there was little time to dwell on the future consequences of his choice. He glanced around the wreckage of Tokyo, reminiscing on his past experiences defending its people. Now he let it become this ravaged husk of itself. If Godzilla lived, he knew this would happen again. And the love and compassion in his heart could not let that occur.

Earth could survive without Godzilla. He’d take that chance.

In that time hesitating, Godzilla had slowly regained his senses. He knew he should be dead at this point, but the fact he was not confounded the ancient fighter. Perhaps Ultraman’s sense of right simply couldn’t deliver the finishing blow. In his position, Godzilla would not have given pause. Was it mercy? With all his deeds across the decades, Godzilla wasn’t sure if he deserved it.

The monster king had committed many acts in his lifetime. Actions that had both instigated and halted the conflict between kaiju and humans. He regretted none of them. He was a combatant at heart. A fighter to the very end. He was never the kind to make peace, and he knew it. But all those years ago, he realised that if the conflict between the two species hastened, both would be driven into annihilation. To prevent this, as his life neared its end, he was ready to pass his title down to a successor. But kindness was shown to him on a crucial point, saving him from death and dooming his inheritor.

Years of emotions bubbled within Godzilla, hastening his regeneration. The tear in his throat patched itself up, as his scutes blinked with radioactive light. As Godzilla’s strength recovered, the rhythm built up speed as uncontrolled emotions fuelled his recovery.

There could never be peace so long as Godzilla lived. Until the day he died, he would continue to protect his kingdom and subjects. He would not show weakness. And he did not deserve mercy.

Godzilla’s eyes snapped open, burning alight with a crimson aura. Ultraman flinched in shock, then raised his Ultra Slash. Beneath the dirt, Godzilla’s spines flashed brightly, illuminating the area surrounding him. Instead of neon blue, flaring crimson engulfed his back alongside crackling bolts. As the Ultra Slash was hurled down, his jaws parted, firing his rage and hate and pain as a surging, red nuclear blast. It swallowed the buzzsaw whole, atomising the weaker projectile in a second, and smashed into Ultraman’s chest with a breath-taking explosion. The alien giant screamed as the blast threw him back, slamming into the pavement. As he fell, Godzilla began to stand. His recovered knee assisted in his recovery to his feet, but he was a shell of his full might. Even with the enhanced speed of his regeneration, his body still bore the ravages of Ultraman’s assault.

As he struggled up, Ultraman was hit by another spiral fire ray and launched away again. Pain filled his body as the Ultra warrior tried to recover. He groaned as smoke wafted from his scorched chest, but he still retained the strength to stand again. Godzilla’s spines flashed, melting nearby windows and scorching plant life as he fired again. Acting on instinct, Ultraman quickly erected an Ultra Barrier, catching the blazing ray. Unlike the spiral atomic ray, the crimson stream was not reflected and surged against the wall of energy. It did not take much effort to shatter the barrier, assaulting Ultraman’s body with its searing power for a third time.

He fell to a knee, chest heaving in exhaustion. A familiar ringing graced Godzilla’s ears as the hero’s Colour Timer started to blink once more. It would be suicide to continue this further, yet he stood up, filled with determination. The end had to come soon for one of them as both fighters’ stamina began to drain.

A familiar sense overcame Ultraman. He stilled, filled with dread as he hoped what he’d detected was wrong. But it was not. Behind him, a crowd of refugees cowered from the two titans, unable to escape. Out of the corner of his eye, Ultraman caught a recognisable crimson flare. Godzilla’s next attack could not be stopped or diverted. If he tried to block it, his death was certain. But if he dodged it… These innocents would die.

Turning back around, Ultraman spread his arms, exposing his chest to the monster king. Though briefly surprised, he refused to hesitate like the warrior had, and spewed his spiral fire ray forth with nothing to stop it. Thousands of eyes watched as the enhanced beam struck Ultraman square in the chest. Its flaming energies blossomed over his shape, consuming his Colour Timer. Ultraman’s agonised screams filled Tokyo for the beam’s duration, and abruptly ended almost exactly as it did.

Ultraman tilted back-and-worth, struggling to hang on as his domed eyes flicked. The direct shot to his Colour Timer had sealed his fate, though. He toppled back, crashing atop the asphalt. The light faded from his eyes, swallowed by darkness.

The Warrior of Light had fallen.

Silence nearly overtook the desolated city, interrupted only by the whistling wind as the event sunk into the consciousness of its observers. Godzilla’s thundering footfalls cut through the tension as he walked over to his adversary, each step straining his unrecovered body. His eyes wandered over Ultraman’s lifeless form to analyse his condition. Although the warrior’s eyes were dulled, the gem on his chest continued to flash. It would be so easy to crush the organ, to just raise a foot and stamp out the last of Ultraman’s light. A lesser, more malicious monster would have done so with hesitation. Godzilla, a monster with decades of memories, did not make the call.

In a life that barely seemed like his own anymore, Godzilla had encountered other humanoid warriors. Like Ultraman, Jet Jaguar and Zone Fighter dedicated their lives to the protection of humanity. This fact alone should have made them his enemies. Instead, they became his strongest allies. Although they had never understood each other’s motives, there was respect and honour between the duo and the monsters that allowed them to fight and train at each other’s’ side.

The battle against Ultraman had brought back memories of this better age; a time before Godzilla was consumed by anger. The Godzilla of that age seemed long dead, buried under the dark memories of his later years. Yet time and again, that side has resurfaced, where Godzilla had shown pity to a beaten enemy or lesser kaiju. Standing over Ultraman, seeing the giant in this weakened state, changed something inside the ancient ruler. Perhaps these memories ignited a spark of compassion within him. It could have been the respect he had for the mighty warrior. Or maybe he was just exhausted from the fighting, both here and across the years. Whatever his reasons, Godzilla chose to spare Ultraman’s fading life, hoping that he might recover from this battle and they would fight another day. Where the champion of light might finish the job he had started.

Godzilla turned away and started towards the ocean. Every action shot pain through his form, but his immense willpower kept him moving. Once he was under the waves, he would allow himself to rest and properly recover. As he trudged across the acres of blackened concrete, a droning sound flooded the sky. Godzilla halted, head tilting and craning to locate the cause as the volume of the noise increased. Black smoke and fire suddenly blossomed from his back as small projectiles rained across its length. The titan stumbled and groaned as jet fighters soared overhead, dropping more bombs upon the wounded king. Across the ravaged landscape, military vehicles of many classes trundled through the ruins as they surrounded Godzilla. At last, the Japanese militia had returned from whatever task had delayed them to take on their country’s ultimate enemy once more. From the mass-produced Type 74 and Type 90 Tanks and the advanced MBT-92 and Type 90 Maser Beam Tanks, to the less common M24 Chaffee Tanks and Hyper Laser Cannons, every operational weapon targeted Godzilla’s weak shape, launching flesh far and wide with every impact. The leviathan stumbled under the barrage as he scanned the closing circle of firepower. Sapphire light flashed across his spines, but there was nothing the militia could do as the atomic power engulfed them. One wave of his attackers went up in flames, but the rest intensified their assault. These men knew of the risks when choosing this mission, but for the protection of their country and loved ones, they would give their lives and more.

Never had the king of monsters understood this suicidal strategy. These scenario had repeated over and over in the sixty-plus years of his rebirth. What was gained from the deaths of these un-noteworthy humans? What was the point of giving up life if it could not protect what it was given for? Godzilla knew what true sacrifice was, but had been denied the chance to save what mattered to him.

Far away, a crowd slowly gathered. People of all generations collected around the motionless Ultraman in mourning. For the majority, this was their first close-up experience with one of the giants that walked their world. To stand so close that you could reach out and touch the flesh of a legend. This was not how they had wished to do so.

The Tokyo community had grown up around the history of Ultraman and his brethren. Many of the adults here had been children during the warrior’s first assignment on Earth, and passed on their experiences to their own children and grandchildren. If Godzilla was the shadow of Japan, then Ultraman was the light that drove it out. For every beast and invader that ravaged the country, there had been heroes like him to thwart the schemes of another. Now that light has gone, and so too, did the spirit of the people begin to fade.

One parent held his son in his arms, comforting him even as tears trickled down his own cheeks. Whilst this scene played out, beams of sunlight leaked through gaps in the barrier of smog that choked the blue sky. Light flashed in the young boy’s face, causing him to squirm and moan as it blinded him. His father repositioned him out of the beam and checked him over before searching for the source, spotting the partly buried car reflecting the sunlight. The man covered his eyes as the light crossed his own face, hissing as he looked away from the annoying phenomenon.

Something clicked in the man’s thoughts. He looked back at the car window as a memory from the past came back into focus. Light… it was the source of the Ultramen’s power. While starlight was their main resource, other types of natural and artificial light could recharge their strength. The man turned back to Ultraman, checking that his Colour Timer still flashed. There was a chance.

He scrambled through the crowd, holding his child close while he pushed through to the wreckage. As he broke free, members of the crowd watched in curiosity as he placed his son down and dug away at the rubble with his bare hands. When the side had been cleared, the father called out for assistance as he tried to pry the damaged door open. People stared and murmured, unable to understand what he was attempting. Gradually, some began to catch on as memories similar to the father’s came to light. They joined the man and pulled at the door, while others smashed at its hinges with bricks and scrap metals. At last, it came away, and the group acted quickly to angle the reflective surface towards Ultraman. Sunlight was focused on his flashing beacon, but it was not enough. They needed more.

Parties of people split off, seeking out glass and metal from the ruins and cleaning it to their best standard. As they positioned their crude mirrors, others scavenged lamps and torches from the untouched structures. Several vehicles pulled up, all in various states of disrepair, but still functioning. Their headlights flickered on at full beam, illuminating Ultraman’s body amidst the dull atmosphere. The crowd continued to grow, shedding more and more light and engulfing the hero’s body. No words were spoken as the people prayed in silence. This was not the first time in history that humans had saved an Ultraman, and surely would not be the last. His mission was not over. The people needed him to fight once again.

Alone, a single man cannot hope to accomplish much. But united, humanity could achieve the impossible. Together, they could keep hope alive and fulfil their dreams. Their faith was something no monster could ever destroy. It was why Godzilla would never crush them. Now they placed their faith unto another.

And hoped.

Another lance of azure swept across the landscape, annihilating more of the militia and toppling buildings both ravaged and intact. The platoons spread out to avoid presenting larger targets before firing once more, striking at the tyrant’s exposed wounds. Godzilla groaned under the intense agony, retaliating with more nuclear fire. He could not keep this up for much longer. His radiation stores were greatly depleted from his battle and draining rapidly to fuel his regeneration. His body was slowly failing him.

He was so tired from all the fighting, here and over the years. He had reached the end of his prime decades ago, and now he was far past it. Though he hid it well, Godzilla was no longer the monster he once was. His near-critical meltdown years back was meant to be the end of his era, the battle against Destoroyah the final tale in his legacy. As that century neared its end, he was ready to pass on his title. But in a miraculous twist, Godzilla’s meltdown had been prevented and his condition stabilised. Mankind had saved his life, but at the cost of another. They’d been foolish to save him, when he would only continue the war that had raged for a half-century. He was no longer meant for peace, and his former allies had prevented it from forming when they made the ultimate error. When they sacrificed the life of his son.

Abruptly, the bombardment ceased. The platoon pulled back from their assault, leaving Godzilla perplexed. The weary dinosaur looked across his opposition as he tried to understand the situation. From behind, the sound of shifting debris caught his attention and made Godzilla’s eyes widen. That was not possible. But as he turned to face the cause of the noise, the monster king was forced to accept the reality before him in disbelief. Ultraman stood groggily from the rubble, bruised and aching, but alive. His Colour Timer remained blinking, but a second wind seemed to have engulfed the defender of peace. The crowds around him quickly scattered to safety, having learned to stay clear of the carnage. The two giants glared at each other from across city blocks, each holding the will to succeed. Their forms were broken and their power was sapped, but one last struggle would see an end to this conflict. A definitive answer to the half-century question.

Crimson energy consumed Godzilla’s spines, flowing through his veins and illuminating the ravaged portions of his body. Steam radiated from the scorching patches to complete the pseudo-burning look. Opposite, Ultraman’s celestial power washed over his body as a blue aura, seeping across his torso and channelling into his arms. He crotched low, swinging his arms out as they shone brilliantly with intense Specium might.

Surging emotions fuelled both combatants, improving their destructive power. For Godzilla, his thoughts were an odd mixture of joy and hate in what may be his final battle. Even if he won this bout, there was a chance that his wounds were severe enough to end his legacy. If that was the case, Godzilla was contempt with this worthy end.

Ultraman’s thoughts were the opposite of sacrifice. He’d already given his life, and now saw the error in his judgement. If he fell again, if Godzilla succeeded, the country would be unprotected from his wrath. The people who had risked their lives to save his would be the targets of his wrath. Bound to the Ultra Code, Ultraman would not allow their destruction. This planet was young in comparison to the other populations in the universe. Their full potential had yet to be reached, the human race’s place undiscovered. If this, too, was Ultraman’s last fight, he would make sure that his light shone brighter than ever to ensure that the people could see the future that may await them in time.

To remind them that they, too, could be Ultraman.

At last, they fired. Godzilla’s jaws unleashed his spiral heat ray at maximum power, scorching the elements surrounding its path. Ultraman’s wrists crossed, diverting his energy to his right hand and unleashed a super-powered Specium stream. The shockwave of the blast tore apart the landscape and toppled buildings as it raced as fast as light. When they clashed, a miniature sun was generated between them. Waves and bolts of both energies shot in all directions from the sphere, further ravaging the landscape as structures nearly crushed evacuees and military weapons were vaporised in a second. Despite the growing carnage, Ultraman and Godzilla continued their struggle of beams. Every drop of power at their call was funnelled into their duelling streams, increasing the intensity with every second that passed. Even the very ground was ripped up and scattered by the tremendous shockwaves produced.

At first glance, there appeared to be no victor. Both rays seemed equally matched in their clash, with the luminous sphere caught between them obscuring any struggle that may be taking place. Then the ball began to shrink. The sphere’s glow diminished as the equal energy output that fuelled it lessened. As the radiance cleared, Godzilla’s eyes widened in shock and disbelief.

The spiral fire ray was pushed back!

The scaled giant forced everything he had into his attack, fighting off the Specium Ray’s advance with what he could muster. Opposite, Ultraman did the same, his heels burying into the tarmac as he strained himself to keep the beam flowing. In this clash, there was a key difference. Godzilla only sought to save the life of himself and gain one last conquest. For Ultraman, victory held a different meaning than the destruction of his nemesis. It was not only his life he sought to protect, but the lives of every being in Tokyo. For decades, their city and country had been plagued by this tyrant, and now Ultraman had brought the weapon that could defeat the king of monsters. The one thing he once brought that the human race desperately needed.

Hope.

The struggle was for nought. Despite his efforts, Godzilla’s fiery ray was engulfed by Ultraman’s superior attack. Crackling atomic energies were replaced by rushing particles of Specium, striking the titan’s sternum. Not even a roar could be made before Godzilla was overtaken by flames and ash. A colossal fireball erupted from his position, overtaking the area where he once stood. Smaller explosions burst like fireworks, sparkling the cityscape with flickering embers. Like that, it was over.

With all his strength drained, Ultraman collapsed. Falling to a knee, his chest heaved with exertion and the toll of the conflict. His body ached with an intensity he had not experienced in hundreds of years. And yet, he was not sure if it was worth it. Godzilla had been essential in the planet’s survival in his kind’s absence. With his life extinguished, what new problems would plague the Earth? Other monsters would arise to lay claim to Godzilla’s throne, destroying the world in their territorial disputes. Even in death, Godzilla brought disruption to Man’s society. Could Ultraman take the challenge to control the coming chaos? It did not seem within his power, but the task had to be taken by someone.

The ground shuddered, dispelling the future possibility of a monster war. Ultraman’s head craned up, not believing the event happening before his eyes. From the smoke and fire, a bloodied and scarred king emerged. Despite the insane odds against him, Godzilla lived by a thread. His form was barely above a walking skeleton, covered by patches of flesh and tissues. Half of the reptilian’s face was burnt down to the bone, the empty socket staring blankly forwards. Even Godzilla was unsure how he still breathed. Little by little, his mass regrew at a snail’s pace, but he, too, was no longer in the condition to fight. He stopped before Ultraman, meeting the star warrior’s gaze as the wind whistled and howled. Neither moved or made a sound. They simply stared.

Both had been pushed to their limits by this encounter. Not in decades had either experienced such an intense battle. Time would be the judge of whether they would ever fully recover. But they both lived despite the odds. Sheer will alone was not enough to overcome the damage inflicted to them. The only answer to their shared survival was a link to a higher power. Perhaps fate itself would not permit the deaths of these mighty defenders, but why? For what purpose did the hands of destiny need Godzilla and Ultraman for?

There was a reason why Ultraman and Godzilla had co-existed for so long in the same environment. Like dolphins and sharks, they shared their territory by targeting enemies designed to suit their strengths. The foes of Godzilla were powerhouses, requiring extended combat to be effectively neutralised, while Ultraman’s enemies, though in a similar calibre, were more chaotic and simple, making their defeats much simpler and faster. The two possessed far different fighting styles that lapped over in areas, but should they swap their target groups, their chances of victory would be reduced. And yet every year, stranger and deadlier kaiju revealed themselves to the world in terrible fashion and increasing number. Eventually, some greater evil would emerge that would require both of Earth’s champions to put aside their rivalry and combine their might for the planet’s ultimate good. Godzilla and Ultraman, as strange as it seemed and sounded, were never meant to be enemies, but the characteristics that defined them had driven them into conflict.

Now, standing in the aftermath of their duel, the two giants now seemed to understand the driving force that defined them. A king driven by pride and grief, unable to move on from the past and turned into a servant of mindless vengeance, and an alien more human than anyone had believed, who gave his light to protect the dream of a hopeful future. How could two so opposite work together? Only the sands of time would reveal that truth.

But one detail ignited the start of this potential alliance. Godzilla had seen first-hand the lengths Ultraman had gone to protect the people, who had returned that heroism in kind. That event was sparked old memories from the time when he was a protector. A violent agent of justice convinced of the benefits of an alliance with humanity. In that era, he had found happiness, even if his coalition with Man was strained and blurred. For decades, he had assumed those traits of positivity were long lost. But something gained is no so easily discarded. Yet now, the embers of the Showa age warrior flickered once more. In time, that hero could re-emerge and bring back the hope he’d once delivered.

In some sense, he could understand the human’s decision to save his life over Junior’s. It was more than returning his times of service. It was a call back to arms. The current era was far from one of peace, his son unprepared to take the responsibilities of king. Humanity needed an experienced warrior to bring about the end of the war between Man and monster. To make a perfect future for the offspring of both sides.

Darker forces loomed on the near horizon. Godzilla had seen and experienced Ultraman’s power and honour intimately. When the hour dawned, he would fight at the warrior’s side. It was up for the hero of light to return that invitation.

Godzilla turned, heading back to the distant coastline. With his newly healed eyes, he glanced over the destruction wrought by their hands. For the first moment in a long time, he felt an ounce of remorse for his actions. It was not a complete shed of his hate for humanity, but it was a start. With confused feelings, Ultraman stood up and watched the retreating leviathan. When Godzilla turned his head and growled at the giant, he understood the parting of ways. They’d fight again, perhaps on better terms and not here, but a second chance to end this rivalry would come. Somehow, Ultraman anticipated their rematch.

“Shuwatch!”

Ultraman leapt up, soaring into the grey heavens as Godzilla sank beneath the polluted waves. Across the metropolis, people spoke to each other in many tones, high and low, about what had transpired. Many could not have expected this outcome, but all were uncertain about what the future would bring.

What events would transpire on a world where atomic mutants and celestial warriors could find peace?

Draw: Godzilla (Heisei), Ultraman

K.W.C. Kaiju War Chronicles

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