Author: Connor Clennell | Banner: Matthew Williams & Dao Zang Moua
The sound of an explosion boomed across the city. The terrified crowds looked up, seeking its source. Armed soldiers ceased corralling the masses, aiming their weapons upward at the skyline, anticipating resistance. Another boom filled the air, followed by a shrill, alien sound, as a column of fire rose up from a neighboring street. A jet raced overhead, its engine aflame as it just missed the buildings above the crowd. It spiraled downward, leaving a trail of thick, black smoke in its wake, and disappeared behind a row of houses in the distance. Seconds later, another pillar of fire arose.
At this point, any control that the military had on the situation was lost.
The people surged forward, shouting and screaming in panic as they shoved aside each other in their rush to escape. Where, they did not know. Like a horde of lemmings, they ran blindly onward. The soldiers around them did not attempt to regain control. Rather, they urged the crowd onward, knowing fully well what was coming. They had hoped to hinder its progress for much longer, to buy enough time for the people of Paris to escape before the more destructive weaponry was called in. Now, it was too late. No one was going to be spared.
Another wave of jets raced overhead, unloading bullets and missiles at an unseen target. Moments after starting their assault, it was ended by a wave of sapphire flames. Their remains fell to the streets below, crushing dozens of fleeing citizens. The alien scream sounded again, closer than before, and a crown of dirty green spikes emerged over the roofline. The soldiers on the streets opened fire on the creature as it appeared in its entirety. Their weapons failed to harm or deter it in the slightest, and the reaction it earned was one not of annoyance, as expected, but amusement. The crowd continued running, with only the brave daring to look behind them and glance upon the emerald devil.
Bemular smiled, blue flames flickering behind his lips. He peered over a line of houses from another street, his lanky arms digging into the tilework to support himself, looking over the fleeing masses with something akin to curiosity. But Bemular’s method of learning was cruel and heartless. He was deciding how he would kill the humans.
The decision took only a few more seconds, little time for the people to find shelter or predict the interstellar psychopath’s next move. Bemular’s maw opened wide, spewing an azure wave of heat into the street. Thousands of lives were incinerated instantly, followed by countless more as Bemular swept the stream upward, engulfing the rest of the street and several side roads in bright blue flames. Still firing, the frog-faced creature swung his head upward, taking off the roofs of multiple buildings, and targeted another formation of jets. His heat breath washed over the aircraft, melting them to slag mid-air. Three of the jets crashed into the city, adding to the devastation. The fourth collided with Bemular’s chest, erupting into a ball of flame. A hiss of pain escaped the reptile as the flames scorched his still healing chest wound. Bemular traced the edges of the slash marks, recalling his battle with the enormous walrus Maguma. The creature had given him more than a matching pair of scars. He had provided Bemular with an estimate of the Earth’s inhabitants. Bemular had smelt the stench of other massive monsters in the days between Maguma’s defeat and his arrival in Paris, but none had appeared so far. Did they fear his presence? Or did they consider him not enough of a threat to be worth their time? Bemular was ignorant to whatever the true reason was. The less resistance he encountered would make adding to his already high body count quicker and easier.
He advanced onward, assaulting more buildings and crowds of escapees with his heat wave and blasting his aerial attackers away with ease. He screeched loudly as he rammed his bulk into a particularly large cluster of buildings, bulldozing through the structures and reducing them to piles of rubble and clouds of dust. He then proceeded to stomp on the remains, grinding them to powder under his massive heels. In the middle of his rampage, another cry sounded from somewhere in the city. Bemular ceased his actions, snapping his head in the direction that the sound had come from. A cloud of dust was rising up from another section of the city, advancing toward his position. Flexing his claws, Bemular’s eyes narrowed as a serpentine beast emerged from the streets. Its emerald scales glistened in the sunlight, contrasted by the dark mane of fur adorning its back and the long whiskers at the tip of its snout. The serpent reached the base of the Eiffel Tower and started to wrap around the structure, its eyes never leaving Bemular’s form. Halfway up, Manda stopped and glared at Paris’ attacker, his deep roar booming from his fang-lined jaws.
Bemular gaped at the dragon, surprised and concerned by its appearance. There was no way that the beast had simply arrived here by luck. He was correct. Bemular was not the first creature from beyond Earth to threaten the home of humanity. Legendary destroyers, survivors of deceased worlds and heralds of great interplanetary empires had attempted to take Earth for themselves in the past. All these invasions had been repelled, through a combination of human genius and the might of its monstrous inhabitants. In one such plan of failed domination, a race from the same solar system as Earth had tried to turn the planet’s monsters against the humans. They were unsuccessful, and in an ironic twist, mankind used their own technology to command the monsters themselves. By the time Bemular had made his way to our solar system, the last alien sects in Earth had left long ago, or had been captured or killed. The races of the cosmos had seen Earth as an easy target, and paid heavily for their arrogance. With their failures, humanity was able to gain control of the things they once thought untamable.
They’d conquered monsters.
The two reptilian beasts stared down each other, Bemular’s lip twitching and claws flexing as Manda awaited the order to attack. Impatient, Bemular took a step toward the famous landmark. The moment his foot touched the ground, it erupted upward, blasting the mold green creature with earth and concrete. He stumbled backward, screaming in confusion. In the midst of the dirt shower, a form lay crouched low to the ground. It reared onto its hind legs as the earth settled, shaking its head and large ears free of collected dirt. The reptile’s nasal horn pulsed briefly with light as it bellowed fiercely, its feral eyes homing in on its alien target. Baragon lunged forward, smashing into Bemular’s chest head first. The reptilian criminal was launched backward, crashing into a residential structure and flattening it beneath his titanic size. He struggled back up, his head rolling in a daze. In his stunned state, an opportunity was seen for Manda, and he was given the order to engage. The sea dragon sprung from his perch, allowing a snarl to escape as he descended on Bemular. He lashed out with his tail, treating his entire body like a whip, and struck Bemular’s legs, sweeping them out from under him. Both reptiles fell, the latter screeching loudly and squirming helplessly. Manda moved in quickly, coiling his length around the spike-covered beast as carefully and quickly as possible. Bemular staggered up, shaking wildly as he tried to dislodge his serpentine captor. As the ancient, deity-like dragon began to squeeze, Baragon attacked again. His jaws found Bemular’s right shoulder and sunk his teeth in deep. Hot blood filled the prehistoric relic’s mouth, triggering Baragon’s primal instincts. He bit down harder, shaking his head roughly as he tried to tear off Bemular’s shoulder. Screaming aloud from pain and rage, Bemular willingly fell backward, surprising both his attackers. He slammed onto the pavement, the impact forcing his back spines into Manda’s flesh. The serpent howled and wiggled under the emerald fiend as blood gushed from his wounds and painted the road red. His coils loosened, allowing the dragon to crawl out from under Bemular. With one foe dispatched for now, Bemular directed his assault on Baragon, driving his feet into the reddish-brown dinosaur’s gut and kicking, throwing the beast off with a pained cry.
Scrambling to his feet, Bemular charged at Baragon. Still recovering from the last attack, Baragon was unable to react sufficiently as Bemular kicked the bulky reptile in the jaw. He was sent rolling down the street, roaring wildly, before he managed to flip himself onto his feet again. Bemular was already running toward him, but Baragon sprang into the air, ramming his forehead in Bemular’s. The extra-terrestrial stumbled back, allowing Baragon to attack again, spinning around and slamming his robust tail into the creature’s side. As the subterranean dinosaur stood upright and moved to strike Bemular with his front paws, his foe thrust his head forward, smashing it against Baragon’s own. The Earth-born reptile staggered back, moaning, as blood trickled from his cracked forehead. His nasal horn glowed brightly and he opened his jaws, spraying an orange-red beam of heat, but he had little time to aim prior to release. The ray shot over Bemular’s shoulder into the sky, but the emerald alien was still surprised by the quadruped’s attack. It could fire a ray similar to his. In light of his discovery, Bemular showed off his own heat-based ray. Unlike Baragon, his aim was true, the sheet of azure flames striking the back of the Cretaceous relic and driving from him an agonized howl. Bemular cackled, shaking his body with glee.
Leaping from behind a series of buildings, Manda intervened, sparing Baragon from further misery. He crashed into Bemular’s side, pushing the slender reptile into the structures on the other side of the street. The serpent god hissed, drowning out Bemular’s own, similar sound, and slapped the alien invader’s chest with his tail, forcing him back down the street, away from Baragon. Manda rushed forward, avoiding Bemular’s leg as it lashed out at him. He slithered around him, entrapping Bemular with his own body, then lunged and clamped his jaws onto the psychopath’s shoulder. Bemular howled as Manda’s bite aggregated the wound afflicted by Baragon, and he thrashed around, partly from the pain, and partly to try and free himself from Manda’s grip.
Unlike before, Manda focused on restraining Bemular, rather than try to crush him, allowing the recovered Baragon to rush in. The dinosaur thrust his head forward, driving his horn into Bemular’s torso. Bemular screeched and thrashed even harder, forcing Baragon’s horn deeper into his chest. He continued to struggle as Manda’s coils slowly tightened and Baragon shoved his weight against the emerald invader, both creature attempting to force Bemular to the ground, where he would be more vulnerable. Bemular would have none of that. After a few more seconds of shaking, one of his legs escaped from Manda’s grip, and he kicked out, planting his foot on Baragon’s stomach. He shoved the saurian away, his horn ripping free from his chest in the process. Bemular used the pain generated to fuel his attacks. He moved toward Baragon, lowing his body parallel to the ground and swinging his top half from side to side, using the bodies of himself and Manda as a giant club to batter poor Baragon. Strong muscles and sharp spines assaulted Baragon’s sides, bruising and cutting the dirt-coloured dinosaur’s flesh. He tried to attack back, but could not with Manda still wrapped around his quarry. His hesitation allowed Bemular to head-butt the reptile in the throat. Stumbling back, choking, Baragon spewed his heat beam wildly, scorching the pavement and buildings around him. A blast of heat struck Bemular’s torso, but it was Manda who felt the true sting of the attack. Releasing his hold on Bemular’s shoulder, the dragon roared in anguish. His coils loosened on instinct: a fatal mistake for the ancient ex-guardian. In his distracted state, he felt Bemular’s jaws close around his neck. Blood dripped from the evil creature’s lips as his teeth penetrated the snake’s hide. He swung his head around, tearing the dragon off of his body, and flung him into the narrow street.
Recovering quickly, Manda lunged at the taller monster once more, and was met by the murderer’s tail as he spun around, slapping the marine serpent across the head. He crashed into the structures lining the street’s sides and slumped to the ground, groaning slowly. Bemular moved to place his foot on the dragon, when Baragon’s roar came from behind. The monster criminal spun around to face his new opponent, the mole-like dinosaur rushing at him, upright, with his head lowered. The reptile charge was hindered by Bemular catching his head with his own. The two pushed against one another, aiming to get ground on their opponent. Slowly, the struggle was turning in Baragon’s favor, as Bemular began to slide backward under the eared reptile’s strength. A bright flash of blue suddenly engulfed the space between the two, and Baragon cried out as his legs stung with the burning pain of Bemular’s heat wave.
The alien psycho continued firing, pushing Baragon back and scorching the subterranean beast’s chest. His focus was drawn away from the saurian as a tail slammed into his back. Bemular ceasing firing and turned around, barely catching Manda’s jaws with his arms as the dragon leapt at his face. His strength was barely enough to keep Manda from biting his face off, but it waned fast, the dragon’s fanged cavern inching closer and closer with each second. Manda’s jaws were inches away from Bemular’s ugly visage when he saw the extra-terrestrial’s mouth morph into a sinister grim. The confused serpent had little time to understand his foe’s tactic before it was revealed. Unable to shut his mouth, Manda’s gullet was forced to accept Bemular sapphire flames. The dragon squirmed and squealed in agony as he tore his jaws free of Bemular’s grip, thrashing wildly in the street. Pushing on his advantage, Bemular pinned the sea snake under his clawed foot, sinking his talons into the smaller reptile’s flesh. His head shot down, jaws clamping down on Manda’s throat, and shook violently, then pulled away, taking with him a chunk of the emerald dragon’s flesh. Blood sprayed from Manda’s gaping wound, accompanied by his gurgling, dying sounds. Within seconds, the once-noble guardian’s eyes dimmed and his movements ceased, death overtaking him.
Bemular ran his tongue across his lips, tasting Manda’s sweet lifeblood. From down the street, Baragon watched on, horrified and sickened by what he was seeing. The creature remained motionless, waiting for the next command from his controllers. Before he could be given, Bemular turned to address him, his mismatched eyes both glaring down at the horned reptile with sinister intent. His jaws parted, unleashing his deadly heat beam. Acting on instinct, Baragon leapt up like a frog and soared through the air as the ground beneath him was bathed in blue flames. Snapping his head up, Bemular squealed in surprise as Baragon came down. The quadruped’s head smashed against his own, harder than the previous times, and the emerald reptile howled out. Several of the spikes lining his head were snapped off by the blow, and blood trickled from several of their stumps. Baragon was unrelenting in his attack, delivering a hard blow to Bemular’s face with his paw, sending the creature spinning. Bemular cried out dizzily, unable to stop himself. As he managed to stop himself, Baragon lunged in, slashing at the alien menace’s chest and gut. Each slice of his claws, perfectly suited for digging through hard rock, left deep gouges in Bemular’s flesh and evicted loud screams of agony from the creature.
As Baragon’s assault continued, Bemular managed to regain some of his wit and form a counterattack. His leg shot up, crashing knee-first into Baragon’s lower jaw. The strike managed to lift the reptile off his front legs, and he staggered back on her rear pair, roaring with pain. Moving to attack, Bemular was halted by Baragon’s heat ray, which crashed into and washed over the criminal’s injured chest. The interstellar reptile scowled, but did not scream to spare his already raw lungs, even as the heat burned and cauterized his wounds. To counteract the problem, he fired his own stream of heat waves, which slowly began to push back Baragon’s ray. Seeing both beams being forced toward him, Baragon increased the power of his own. The speed that his beam was forced back began to decrease, until both beams could not overpower the other.
For a few seconds, there was a stalemate. Then, the epicenter of the struggle exploded.
A blast of heat washed over the two monsters, blasting them back from each other. Buildings were annihilated by the sheer force, and plants from up to half a mile away were set aflame. In the aftermath, Baragon was the only one standing, or rather, crawling, in the charcoaled remains of the street. Amongst the blackened debris, Bemular lay sprawled on his back. Numerous burns adorned his skin. Fresh cuts oozed blood onto his battered form. Yet somehow, the monster managed to rise, albeit shakily. His head looked up as Baragon charged, bellowing loudly. The reddish saurian leapt forward, but Bemular stepped to the side, causing Baragon to miss his target. Before he could hit the ground, Baragon felt Bemular’s jaws clamp onto the nape of his neck as he passed. The taller monster spun around, using Baragon’s weight and momentum to hurl the ancient creature across the city. The world around Baragon was but a blur as he flew through the air at high speed, but one structure caught his attention as it loomed closer. He smashed into the Arc de Triomphe, crashing through the famous landmark with little resistance and crying aloud as he disappeared into a cloud of dust and debris.
Watching on with amusement, Bemular shrieked, his arms wiggling in excitement. As the dust cleared, Bemular searched for his foe’s fallen form. Instead, he found nothing but a pile of rubble surrounding a large, recently dug hole. He reared back, eyes widening with shock, realization, and horror. The ground violently shook, bursting upward only seconds later, leaving Bemular little time to repel the feral Baragon. He cried out as the smaller beast sank his teeth into his left leg and shook his head furiously, tearing into his flesh. Unable to continue standing, Bemular fell to the ground, screeching helplessly. Seizing the alien’s moment of vulnerability, Baragon pounced atop his foe, pinning Bemular beneath his weight as he snapped at his exposed throat. Bemular’s arms shot up, hands grabbing Baragon by the jaws and holding the beast back. He could feel the more muscular and powerful creature push against him, painfully forcing his arms back. Bemular tried to hold him off, but his small, skinny arms weren’t strong enough to compete with the dinosaur’s strength. That was not to say there were completely useless, however. Releasing Baragon, Bemular slashed at the reptile’s face with his claws with a ferocity that made up for the small gouges they made. With all the strength he could muster, Bemular drove his right hand in Baragon’s left socket, puncturing his eye and tearing it from its socket. Baragon, howling in agony, reared up, blood spurting from his destroyed socket. Bemular lashed out with his legs, forcing the injured quadruped back and rising. His heat beam struck the earth beneath Baragon, causing the beast to fall back into the hole he had emerged from. As he tumbled into the darkness, Bemular peered in, watching and relishing in the saurian’s misery.
After several moments, Baragon did not return. Bemular breathed a sigh of relief, assuming the worst was over. He turned away from the hole and started toward an undestroyed section of the city. After taking only a few more steps, a searing blast of heat engulfed his back. Bemular cried out, attempting, and failing, to reach his back and soothe it with his hands. Far behind, Baragon’s top half peaked out of the ground, letting out a sound like laughter. Catching on to the subterranean monster’s reappearance, Bemular spun around, firing his blue heat wave at the beast. With his now reduced vision, Baragon did not see the beam soon enough to dodge, and was subjected to its burning power. As he patted the flames from his head, Bemular rushed at him, determined to destroy the creature this time. He stomped on Baragon’s head, driving the beast below ground, and unleashed his heat breath again as the reptile disappeared into the darkness. The stream of fire lit up the darkness, but no sound of pain followed.
Slowly, Bemular looked around, staying as still as possible. Now that Baragon was using his burrowing ability to his advantage, the emerald reptile could now deploy a strategy to counter it. He knew how subterranean monsters hunted: he’d dealt with very similar creatures on other worlds. They tracked prey on the surface using their vibrations as sonar to guide them. If Bemular did not move, Baragon shouldn’t be able to find him, assuming the beast had poor memory.
After a few more seconds of waiting, the ground shook again. Baragon poked his body out of the earth not far from Bemular’s location. True to the extra-terrestrial’s theory, Baragon had been unable to properly track Bemular’s location, and while he had appeared close to the spiked creature, he was facing the wrong way!
Looking around in confusion, Baragon didn’t register Bemular’s footsteps until it was far too late. The slender reptile clamped his jaws around the back of Baragon’s neck and ripped him out of the ground with all his strength. The rust-coloured saurian crashed onto his back, flailing his limbs in a panic. Bemular moved in, smashing his foot into the horned reptile’s gut over and over and driving pained cries with each strike. He then took it one step further, stepping onto Baragon’s belly and jumping atop him like a trampoline. Baragon roared helplessly, then his cries turned to gurgles as Bemular stomped hard on his stomach. Noisily, Baragon vomited up the contents of his stomach, spraying bile and half-digested food across the streets. As he started to choke on his own vomit, Bemular scrunched up his face in disgust. He pressed his foot down on Baragon’s throat, closing off his windpipe. Baragon’s eye budged as his oxygen was cut off further. He thrashed around in a panic to try and throw his tormentor off, but Bemular refused his pleas. He only starred into the saurian’s eye, grinning a mad grin. Baragon’s face began to turn from reddish-brown to blue, and his eye rolled up in his socket as he frothed at the mouth. His struggles started to lessen, becoming weaker and weaker, until the creature went still. Through the saurian was most likely dead, Bemular wanted to make sure. His heat beam washed over Baragon’s face, burning his flesh severely. He concentrated his beam, refusing to cease firing until the stench of burning flesh was unbearable. As his flames ceased, Baragon’s face was revealed, now a burnt, horrific mess.
The reptile stepped off Baragon’s corpse, leaving a single foot on its chest to pin down his prize. Leaning down, he bit down on the deceased dinosaur’s shoulder and tore away a chunk of flesh, swallowing it in several messy bites. The taste of blood was made even sweeter with his victory over not only one, but two giants, and Bemular revealed in that rare accomplishment.
The military force was withdrawn completely. Bemular knew that they now feared his power after making short work of their lap dogs and delighted in his bolstered reputation. Of course, the humans would return with a new plan, and perhaps other monsters to challenge the otherworldly menace. Perhaps among them would be a challenge to finally put an end to his rampage of terror across the galaxy, but such thoughts were for the future. For now, Bemular was content to feed and rest, free to use the City of Love however he pleased.
Until he got bored, at least.